Congratulations, you’re the proud new owner of a gorgeous painting that’s going to have pride of place in your home! But first you’ve got to get it framed. Where to start? Patch asked some experienced framers from local shops for their tips on how to make the most of your frame investment.
Make sure all the framing materials you use are archival. Ginger Hopkins, proprietor of Gallery, said this is the first and most important thing to do, “because it’s not worth spending the money and then in a number of years having to change it—it’s better to get it done right the first time.”
Consider the value of the piece you want to frame. Julianna Latman, framer at said it’s “not necessarily the dollar amount but also the sentimental value,” because there are two main ways to mount the piece.
“Conservation mount, which is completely removable, involves using little linen hinges to mount the artwork. Or dry mount, where work is permanently adhered to, usually, a foam board.”
She suggests reserving dry mount for posters and things easily replaced. If something is valuable and can’t be replaced easily, “I like to recommend the conservation method [which] increases the longevity of the work exponentially.”
Think about where you’re going to hang the artwork before you go to a framer. Meredith Smith, who with husband Thomas owns suggests taking some pictures of your house and the room where you’re going to display the work so the framer can get a better lay of the room—wall color, style, etc. “Good custom framing is going to create a mood when you walk into the room,” said Smith.
L’Éclat de Verre’s Jesse Cohen echoes this: “When I’m working with a client I like to ask where they’re hanging the piece, so that we can find mattes and frames that would not just complement the piece but the home where they’re going to hang it.”
Think of the frame as an enhancement to your artwork, not just a logistical device. “Be prepared for the fact that a frame can move beyond the white matte and can add to your work, whether it’s fine painting or a diploma,” said Cohen, store manager of the new Wisconsin Avenue location of L’Éclat de Verre, which just opened August 1.
“We believe that framing is a creative art in its own right.” His shop does French framing, which goes beyond plain mattes, using handmade textured and patterned papers chosen by the customer, for example, to wrap a matte board. Regardless of whether you’re going for French framing or American, spend some time getting to know your options from the sometimes dizzying array of choices in frame shops.
The amount of matting should be appropriate for the artwork. “This can make or break something,” said Hopkins, who’s been in business for 31 years. For example, some contemporary pieces might do well with a large clean matte, while something with writing doesn’t necessarily need so much matte.
Photo framing has its own tricks. According to Frame Avenue’s Smith, if you’re hanging groupings of pictures like family photos, if the photos are black and white you can do all black frames but different styles, whereas if they’re color photos, the frames should all be the same, “so it looks more put together.”
Don’t overpower the art. According to Framer McGee’s Hopkins, you don’t want more density in the frame and matte than in the artwork.” For example, for transparent watercolors you don’t want a dense-looking matte color: “it can drown your artwork.”
L'Éclat de Verre, 7015 Wisconsin Avenue, Chevy Chase. 301-215-7728, ww.eclatdeverre.com
Frame Avenue, Art Gallery & Custom Framing, 4919 Cordell Avenue, Bethesda. 301- 654-7700, www.frameavenue.com
Framer McGee's Gallery, 4936 Hampden Lane, Bethesda. 301- 656-4090, www.framermcgeesgallery.com
Plaza Artist Materials & Picture Framing, 7825 Old Georgetown Rd., Bethesda. 301- 718-8500, www.plazaart.com