March 20, 2012

Beginner's Guide to Custom Framing

Growing up, we may not have had up-to-date stainless steel appliances or a white picket fence, but we always had beautifully framed artwork on our walls. My mom has impeccable taste when it comes to artwork and framing from her natural artistic sense as well as ~15 years of running the counter at Joy Art Gallery.
[Mama Sheen behind the counter]
Having grown up around this environment, I have a good understanding of custom framing, and today I'm going to give you an intro to it.

Why frame?
If you want to graduate beyond your first college apartment, you have to fill some of those bare walls with artwork. And not just tape up posters - frame it! Then you can pretend like you're an adult living in an adult apartment. Anytime you flip through magazines or watch movies, you'll see that to really complete a space - living room, bathroom, dining room - you need to put up framed pieces. 
[A living room pulled together with framed art. From Lonny]
Why custom frame?
You can always buy the typical square edged frames from Ikea, Aaron Brothers, or even thrift stores, but when you custom frame something, you make it fit the piece. You don't have to cut your piece or add paper to the edges to make it fit the frame. Ikea, especially, has some odd-sized pieces (metric system). When you custom frame, you have many more options for colors and sizes. For the most part, framing is hard to DIY correctly. 

What's Correct?
So, when is framing done correctly? Correctly framed means that the overall size fits the space where it will go, the proportion of matting/framing/artwork is aesthetically pleasing, the style fits the location (you don't want something modern in a colonial-style bedroom), the shade of the matting fits the color of your walls... and the list goes on and on.

[Top with matting, bottom without. Lonny]
Matting is the colored thick paper that surrounds the art. It can be single matted, double matted, or even triple matted. The width of each layer can be customized, and the distance between the frame and artwork should be different according to the style you want. A wide mat can look more classic, a narrow mat can look more modern. Matting is not always needed, such as with canvas, but it usually takes the piece of art and improves it 10fold. Unlike what comes with most pre-made frames, matting actually comes in more than just the three colors of white, gray, and black. It is key for bringing out the colors of the artwork as well as matching the surrounding walls, furniture, artwork, and accessories. 

[A small sample of frames at Joy Art Gallery]
The Frame
The moulding you choose to frame the piece has a huge effect on the look you achieve. The profile of the moulding can be modern, classic, simple, ornate, etc. Most frames are wood, but the colors you can choose from are endless - chestnut, mahogany, cherry, gold, silver, silver and gold, white, green, green with brown, etc, etc... When choosing the frame, you want to consider the size of the artwork. If you have a small piece, you usually choose a thin frame. If you have a small piece but need to fill a big space, you can choose to have a very wide mat and a wide ornate frame, or thin ornate frame. If you want to have a series of photos, you should choose a simpler frame without as much carved along the face of it. If you have a very messy art piece, you should choose a simpler frame. I guess I can explain the different combinations endlessly, but remember to consider 1) the size of the artwork, 2) the complexity of the artwork, 3) the fixtures and furniture near where the frame will go, 4) the width (if any) of the matting, and 5) other frames and art pieces nearby.

Now what? A quick plug
If you're interested in good quality and discounted custom framing, take a little drive and visit my mom at Joy Art Gallery. And if you're in Los Angeles - on the westside, downtown, mid-city, koreatown, anywhere between LA and Ventura County, she can come to you! Personally I would make an appointment to have her come to me. I do this all the time... hehe. She is great at hearing what the piece is, where it's going to go, and magically bringing over exactly the right frames and mats - saving me (and you) the trip and precious time! Monica had a great experience, and if you mention this blog, Mama Sheen will give you a 20% discount in additional to the discounted prices she already offers.

Next week, I'll show you some of the pieces in my own place!

1 comment:

  1. This is super helpful, Junette! SO much that I didn't know about framing... Future me is going to reference this post again, when I have my own place.