Thursday, November 20, 2014

How Do I Frame My Own Artwork?

One of the questions I am frequently asked by my students is how do I frame my own artwork? With so many options these days, you can frame your own artwork for a fraction of what it would cost if you took it to a frame shop. So let's get you started.

You now have so many options to frame your own artwork. You can order your frame online by shopping sites like Amazon or DickBlick. You can go to design and art focused stores like Ikea, Jo-Anns, Michaels, and Ross and buy pre made frames. Or you can be creative and create a simple frame with some materials from Home Depot or Lowes.

Before you go shopping, ask yourself…

What are you framing? Is it a painting or a drawing?
Gallery Wrapped Canvas
Gallery Wrapped Canvas

If your painting is on canvas, it may not need a frame. It depends on how the borders on the canvas are finished. If you have a gallery wrapped canvas, then you do not need to frame it. Gallery wrapped means there are no staples on the side border of the canvas. If you have painted the sides of the canvas, make sure that the sides are clean and have a finished look. Then, you will not need a frame.

What if it is not a gallery wrapped canvas but a regular canvas, with staples on the side? 

Then frame it.

Do I use glass when framing canvas paintings? 

No. But you might want to varnish your artwork before you frame it.  Varnish protects the painting from dirt and dust. It also helps even out painting final appearance. I like to vanish with matt vanish. I don't like glossy because it shines too much. There are varnishes for oils and for acrylics. 

What if the artwork is on paper? 

Then frame it with glass. Anything that is paper should be frame so it is protected from airborne pollutants as well as from people touching them. 

Do I need to use a mat? 

Not all artwork requires a mat, but they do add some elegance to the artwork and the frame. With mediums such as soft pastel and oil pastel, a mat is necessary to separate the art from the glass so the art does not smudge and the glass does not get dirty. 

What mat color should I get?
The one that matches best your artwork and frame. If you want to keep it simple and elegant white is your best choice. 

Double mat or one mat?
I like better double mat. It adds to the drawing. 

How do I keep my art work from moving inside the frame or on the mat?

Either glue it to the back board or use Scotch® Removable Mounting Squares. 

What kind of glue do I use?
I prefer the acid free version to insure that nothing turns yellow over time.

What kind of frame should I buy? 

If you are not sure, just keep it simple and clean. A simple black or white frame will go do the job and look good.

What kind of frames should I avoid? 

Plastic frames or fake wood wrap frames. 


First, your artwork might look cheap. Second, once they get scratched you cannot repair them. Third, they brake and warp easily.

What is the preferred material for frames? 

You can always touch up wood. So in my experience, wood is the best choice.

What about glass? 

Plexiglass or glass. For small artwork glass is okay, but for larger artwork use plexiglass. 

What kind of glass?
There are four categories of glass:
  • UV-Blocking/Preservation Glass helps protect artwork from harmful ultraviolet rays.
  • Non-Glare Glass reduce the reflections caused by clear glass and gives artwork a softer look, for work such as watercolors and landscapes.
  • Clear Glass is an affordable framing option protect the artwork from dust but highly reflective and does not protect artwork from UV ray. 
  • Anti-Reflective Glass 
looks "invisible" and enhances the color and clarity of the artwork. Anti-reflective, glass looks especially dramatic over bright colors.
Which glass should I use? 
Which one can you afford? It is more a personal decision and how much you want spend.

All work must have a wire on the back to hang the work. 

Where do I get the picture hanging set?
Walmart, JoAnns, Michels, Lowes, etc. You need the one with the nails and wire. 

How high should the wire be?
Please leave a space between the top of your frame and the middle of the hanging wire.

Space between the wire and frame

Here is the video on how to frame your own picture using a ready made frame. I created this video for my art students.

Okay, for the more adventurous, here is an idea from Lowes on how to frame your artwork. I really like it! It eve gives you the list of materials you will need and also shows you a video on how to do it.

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  1. This is so helpful! My art work is nowhere as great as yours, but I might treat it to a frame anyway.

  2. Anonymous10:25 PM

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