Framing Comparison

The following table is taken (with their permission) from our friends at the local framing business that we use to frame all my artwork from Limited Edition prints to original artworks, Otters Pool Studio. The table is based on an article that Otters Pool Studio were asked to write for the Guildford Art Society, comparing different framing methods and I liked it so much I felt I just needed to have it on my website so we can all benefit from understanding the advantages of going the bespoke route when it comes to framing.

Pros in BLUE, Cons in RED.

Local Bespoke Picture Framer

Frame and mounts are made to size to suit the artwork exactly.  Measurements are taken by the framer.

The framer is on hand to give advice on sizes, proportions, etc. and suggest alternative options. 

Use of responsibly sourced quality materials. e.g. FSC certified mounts and wood mouldings.

Use of acid-free and lignin-free mounts to prevent damage to artwork and discolouration.  Artwork installed using the correct materials and methods. 

Ability to physically see, touch and feel mouldings.  Ability to see and compare mountboard colours.

Use of quality d-rings and cord for hanging, rigid tabs to hold the backing in.

Fresh new quality glass options, including UV filtering and low-reflection, cut, cleaned and installed by the framer.

The framer will complete the whole job – make the frame, cut the mount, glass and backing, clean and assemble, seal the backing, but ultimately you will pay a premium for the framers craftsmanship and personal service. 

Your local framer may well offer discounts to local art societies or artists.

You will not be able to take the frame away there and then, as it needs to be made.  Lead times can vary from days to weeks depending on how busy the framer is. 

Online Bespoke Picture Framer

Frames and mounts are made to size to suit the artwork exactly but reliant on you getting the measurements right.

There is nobody on hand to give advice, suggest alternatives, or highlight mistakes.  You will get what you order, whether right or wrong.

Possible use of responsibly sourced quality materials but to keep shipping costs down, lightweight materials such as plastic moulding is often used.

Reliance on on-screen representations of the moulding with no real feel for size, texture or colours.

Rarely will online framers supply glass due to the likelyhood of breakage during shipping.  Most will be fitted with acrylic or styrene (both plastic, lightweight, easily scratched).

Mounts cut to the supplied dimensions but you are left to install the artwork, possibly without the correct tapes or hinging methods.

The frame components will be delivered to you by courier within a given delivery window.

You will be required to assemble the final frame – install the artwork, fit and seal the backing, add hangings. 

Online framing is a cheaper way to obtain bespoke framing, but then you are only getting half of the job done – the rest you have to finish yourself.

Off-the-shelf Ready Made Frames

Fixed frame sizes meaning the artwork might not fit, or will require a custom mount to be cut by your local framer at additional cost.

To ease mass-productions, frames often made from plastic or MDF, but with the ability to physically see, touch and feel frames before purchase.

Fittings are machine installed, e.g. hanging loop in backing board, flexible tabs to hold the back in.

Will be pre-fitted with glass or plastic glazing, likely to need cleaning before use.

Ready-made frames rarely come with mounts, so you will have to buy one separately and then install the artwork yourself, possibly without the correct tapes or hinging methods.

Some ready-made frames do come with mounts, but they are likely to be low-quality and pre-cut so will rarely fit your artwork.

You will be required to assemble the final frame – install the artwork, fit and seal the backing, add hangings. 

Mass produced, mass stocked frames from your local homeware or art supplied store will be cheaper than taking the bespoke option.

Charity Shop / Car Boot Sales, etc.

Fixed frame sizes meaning the artwork might not fit, or will require a custom mount to be cut by your local framer at additional cost.

Quality of the materials will be unknown but at least you see what you are getting.

Frame may have damp, hidden mildew or mould spores, woodworm etc. 

Glass may be old with wobbles and bubbles, may be etched by acid from the previously fitted mount or slip, difficult to get really clean. 

Mounts in old frames are rarely acid-free and likely to have started to go brown. You may have to buy a replacement  separately and then install the artwork yourself, possibly without the correct tapes or hinging methods.

You will be required to assemble the final frame – install the artwork, fit and seal the backing, add hangings. 

Old frames can often be bought very cheaply.

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