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How To: Guide on framing photography – Part 4

General framing materials to use and conservation considerations

To be honest, these days most good framers will use the minimum standard conservation materials and practices.  My personal opinion is that it’s good practice to do so.

The term “conservation” can mean many things to many people but there are different levels of conservation and it doesn’t always have to be really expensive.  It really does depend on the piece.

A Framer would normally make recommendations and it is your choice whether or not to follow those.  Usually they will explain why they have made these recommendations, but if not, just ask!

Our framing shop, like many others, uses what is termed as “minimum conservation practices and materials” as standard.  This means that we apply the basic rule when it comes to “conservation” in everything, whether it’s a limited edition print or your child’s first picture.  The basic rule is: don’t let anything that might cause damage, touch the actual image showing.

When you bring a piece in for professional framing, it is assumed that you have brought it in because you want it done properly, thus the basic “conservation” rule will be applied.  However, we do understand that in some cases budgets do come in to play.  We can only strongly make recommendations to customers, ultimately it is their decision.

Depending on the piece and value of it, the rules vary after the basic one.  For example, if it’s a 100 year old Tapestry, apart from glass and other material considerations, whatever is done to the piece should be able to be reversed (i.e. return to its original state).

With modern Photography this is usually different because it can normally be re-printed and because of the differing qualities of inks and papers other factors apply.

If it’s an old Photograph though, there are steps that can be taken.  This can include all manner of options including taking it to a Paper Conserver who would normally be able to restore the actual original (up to a point).  This is a whole different kettle of fish and personally unless you are a qualified Paper Conserver as well as a Picture Framer, this should be handed to a professional.

Just as a matter of point, this is a bug bear of mine, people who take on work they don’t know how to do and potentially making the situation worse.  By all means take it in for “consideration” but don’t touch it if you are unsure.  As framers we would normally have the suitable and trusted contacts to use in this situation.  But please make sure that you are clear to the customer what you intend to do and how much it will cost.  Also make it clear that the piece will be going off the premises.

Right, moving on then …

So where do I start?

In my opinion there are a couple of basic rules when framing photography in particular.  They are; don’t allow the glass to lay straight onto the photo and please don’t just go for black, pale wood or aluminium every single time (unless the photo really lends itself to any of those that is!).

OK, so the latter is your choice, but there really is some lack of imagination when it comes to framing photography.  It doesn’t have to be a bold outlandish change, sometimes it might just take a very subtle change in tone or finish to give it a different feel.  For example, if you really have to have black, you might consider a “black wash” style frame.  This could just be a little softer than the sometimes heavy block of black surround.

Sometimes, the photo really lends itself to, say, Black.  But there are all sorts of different styles, shapes and finishes when it comes to Black.  Instead of just going for the obligatory melamine type look, why not look at a contemporary painted black finish or a deep style frame?

Framing photography can be quite hard to get right actually especially colour photography.  Then, if you start looking at black and white photographs, quite often they are not strictly black and white in tone.  Some are softer, some have a grey hue, some have creamy hues, and then there’s Sepia … and what about subject matter e.g. wildlife, abstract etc…Anyway, I digress!

NOTE: I have included some photos of work framed here and at the bottom.  I really apologise for the quality but usually the pieces are flying out the door at the time, so it’s a quick snap!  You should be able to click on the photo’s to enlarge.

The photograph’s below were a pair.  They could have looked quite stark and cold with a white mount and black frame.  If you look at the first photograph closely, the Sun produces a warm glow over the cold landscape, which we have reflected in the mount.  The frame we chose is a dark brown, contemporary frame, it also has lighter brown flecks in it (slightly distressed frame).  The frame picks up on the colours in tree bark and branches.


In this photograph below, the same toning was applied to branches.  The mount was already in black when it arrived, which actually worked well as there were some really dark shadows in the picture.

More examples at the bottom …

So, what’s wrong with the glass laying straight onto the photo?

Depending on what inks or paper have been used, or whether it’s glossy or matt etc. There is a risk that your photo could stick to the glass.  This can look unsightly or if you go to have it reframed and you want to change the glass, you might have to get it re-printed.  There is also the problem of glass causing brown marks on your photo’s (called foxing), you see this quite often on old photos.

This can happen to any paper that’s against glass.  There are a number of reasons why this happens including condensation and the acid in the glass eroding onto the picture (a bit like rusting).

So, what should I do to stop this then?

There are two ways of overcoming this problem.  The first is to put a mount (acid free of course) onto the photo (a card border).  In this situation a mount is used both as a practical and aesthetic solution.  As standard we prefer to use the Conservation White Core range.  It comes in a great variety of colours.

Once again, there are different grades of “conservation” mountboard and many different manufacturers. Depending on the piece we also use Museum Cotton Board, which is 100% museum quality.  Of course, costs will differ!

Secondly, if the photo doesn’t lend itself to having a mount, then you could use a slip.  This does the same job of keeping the glass away from the photo plus it can look really effective.  A slip can come in many forms.  Most commonly, we make wooden slips or slips from mountboard.  It’s also good if you want to keep the overall size of the photo under control.

I know the picture below, isn’t a photo, but it’s a good example of a slip in use.  This piece would  have lost it’s simplicity by adding in a mount.  The slip on the inside of the frame is  made from mountboard and is matched to the colour of the paper.

The print below is another example.  In this case there is a deep slip (if you look hard!). The slip is wooden and matches the frame (they are both plain Ash, then hand stained to tone in with the picture). Once again, adding in a mount could have added complication to the picture.

Here it is again in full view…

 Tape that!

I love it when a customer comes in and asks to buy a roll of tape from us, the look on their faces when we tell them the cost is amazing!  This is an important point actually, and it sort of gives you an insight into why framing costs what it does when it’s done professionally.

We don’t use Masking tape (or Sellotape for that matter!) to secure a picture to a mount or board.  We use a PH Neutral tape, once again it’s about not using damaging materials directly on your image.  I wish everyone knew all this, because once you get down to the details of picture framing, it goes some way to making people understand what’s involved and therefore why we charge for our skills and services.  Oh dear, I’m really on one today!

Acid free backing baby

Yeah, ok not very rock and roll but once again the rule applied is that any materials directly in contact with the image should be acid free.  This should include what lies on the back of an image.

Yes, you guessed it, once again there are many schools of thought and materials available to back your pictures.

For protection, the finished back that shows, in my opinion needs to be quite sturdy, so we tend to use MDF or Art Back.  It’s very important to note that we always use an acid free barrier board in-between the picture and the back.

Glass and Plastic

OK, so, if you have a fine art photograph, limited edition or just a photo that you think is worth conserving.  Then you also have to consider the grade of glass to use.

There are all sorts of options here including whether or not to use plastic on large pictures.  Rather than repeat myself, I have previously written an explanation on the difference between plain and non-reflective glass.

Mostly, people tend to go for one or the other on photo’s, but there are times when you need to consider it further.

Glass comes in lots of grades right up to museum quality glass which is the highest protection you can buy.  Then, it comes with a high percentage of UV protection and depending on which make you get, it can look as if there is no glass on it at all!  We use a lot of this type of glass.

I’m not going to go into a full explanation of the grades of glass here as I am intending to write a separate blog on this.

Glass also comes in different thicknesses.  If your piece is large or long and thin, you will need to use a thicker glass, otherwise there is a high risk of it cracking.  Yes, unfortunately this will push the price up to!

Contrary to popular belief, what is termed as “plastic glass” can actually be more expensive than you think, mainly because you are having to get it specially cut.  Quite often the usual framing equipment is unable to cope with cutting this material, so it may have to ordered in, already cut to size.

It can be a great option for large pictures as it obviously makes it a lot lighter and easier to handle.  There are still grades to consider here though.

The lowest and cheapest grade would be a Styrene “plastic glass” but this is easily scuffed and scratched and can be a nightmare if you want to clean it.

If you want something of better quality, go for a scratch resistant Acrylic “plastic glass” with UV protection.

I would apply the same rules when keeping the plastic away from the actual image, but I’m not 100% sure of the official line on this.

So, hopefully this gives you an idea and basic understanding of what is available in terms of the process and materials when framing photography or other artwork.  It is key to remember though, that each photo or piece is individual and therefore costs will differ.  I’m sure it’ll at least give you the ability to ask relevant questions.

The tones in the photograph below were quite silvery / grey.  They wanted to have a frame that looked distressed and slightly on the vintage side rather than ultra modern.  The black mount brings some drama, and we’ve used a white core to give it a crisp white line  on the inside of the mount.  The frame is a distressed silver grey.

Same principal on this photo but with a different frame, my camera has taken this in a bad light with an orangey hue, so below I have a close up of the frame chevron.

A neutral mount with a plain Ash wood which has been hand stained in Walnut, it matched in the colour of the Otters.  Plain woods are great with wildlife subject matters.

This black and white photo had quite creamy soft tones as well as silvery greys.  We used a double mount, neutral on the outside and sharp black just showing on the inside to give it some punch.  Quite a large outter border gives it some space from the frame.  This frame is a distressed silver with brush stroke type finish (silvery grey) on the outside and a distressed cream light gold flecks on the inside to pick up on all the tones. 

How To: Guide on framing photography – Part 3

Common problems and how to rectify them including dry mounting and other techniques

There’s obviously going to be a cross over here, so to reduce the risk of repeating myself, it may be worth reading my previous blogs first (Introduction & Part 2).

As Framers, generally, the biggest problems we get are: photographic paper cockling, finger marks on the prints and damage, such as creases in the photo.  Some of these problems can be sorted out at the framing point and some just can’t (i.e. a re-print will be needed).

I’m sure there are huge amounts of hints, tips and processes and some methods will be preferred by different Framers.  The key thing to remember is that as long as you know what is available, you can make a pretty informed decision.  Normally, your Framer will go through options with you and guide you to your decision, based on the type of photograph you have brought in.

In the beginning ….

So, you get this lovely photograph printed whether it’s by a dedicated printing company, your photographer has got it printed for you or you’ve printed off an amazing blown up holiday snap from home.  You take it to be framed (obviously taking good care of it, per Photography blog Part 2 ).  So far so good …

You take it to a Picture Framers and they explain that your photo is or might cockle over time (term explained later).  You decide not to go with the optional advice.  The photo is fine at first but over a short or long period of time, it cockles.  Then basically, it looks rubbish and it begins to annoy the hell out of you.

Who’s fault is it?  Well, actually it’s not really anyone’s (although it can be down to quality of paper and inks) and sometimes paper is a funny unpredictable thing but we’ll go into that later.

In an ideal world, getting something mounted onto a fairly robust backing (basically kind of flattened) at the same place that you’ve had the prints done would be great.  It’s much less likely to get damaged that way.  But, unfortunately, that would make photos/prints hard to transport.  So, mostly they are rolled up in a tube for ease.  This is the stuff of nightmares for framers!

What the heck does cockling mean?

Cockling is a term used to describe paper that has “rippled”, gone “wavy” or puckled.  You may have seen in a public place, a poster or photograph that when the light catches it, it looks bumpy.

All paper can cockle and this can happen if the paper hasn’t been treated properly in the very beginning (e.g. a Watercolour artist has not stretched their paper before starting, so when it dries, it cockles or buckles.  I quite like this on Watercolours though, as it gives it a “real” feel.  However, some purists hate it!) or it could be down to the environment it has been stored in.

Paper is very susceptible to the environment, there’s not a great deal you do about this unless you are the British Museum archive rooms or something!  Yes, moisture and temperature can all affect paper of any kind.

Bad mounting practices can sometimes cause cockling too.  For example, if you mount a photo yourself and you’ve a) used a cheap tape and b) taped it all the way around, it’s bound to buckle and recoil … I will talk about mounting techniques at some point in the future!

If something is cockled it is nearly impossible to rectify this by just trying to flatten it out, even with heavy pressure.  Some people make the mistake of thinking that if you put the picture straight against glass (something we wouldn’t recommend anyway) it will sort itself out.  It won’t.  In fact, framing it just like that will not sort the problem out I’m afraid!

So, in an ideal world, the piece should have been treated properly from the outset and the paper and materials should be of good standard.  But we all know that life just isn’t like that, don’t we?  So, we have to find ways around the problems.

Sticky issues …

Another common problem that makes a Framer go grrrrr, is putting sticky labels on the back of photos.  Some “professional” photographers do this to advertise themselves.  Unfortunately, this negates being able to do any kind of pressing with a problem photo.  Quite simply the sticker leaves an “impression” which you can see from the front.  This is also the case if you have written on the back of a photo (e.g. with biro).  Please stop doing it!

So, aside from the sticky situation, how can we sort some of the common problems out?

If you’ve done all the obvious (as discussed previously) then there are four main options for rectifying the issues:

Stretching the paper

This is something that you should only let a professional do!  I can’t stress this enough.  A Paper Conserver is the person you need!  If it’s a sentimental or valuable piece, we would recommend this option.  It’s not as costly as you might think and most Framers will have a Paper Conserver they trust on their contacts list.  Of course in the case of a photograph, it’s probably best to either get it re-printed if there is extensive damage.  Or find someone who can scan & Photoshop it! In the case of an old photographer though, I would leave it.  It’s all part of the charm!

Self Adhesive Board

For photographs or posters that have little monetary value or you think it’s something that you are not going to keep forever, then this can be a cost effective option.

Ideally, this should only be done for photos of a certain size.  It’s one of those jobs that looks easy but there’s a knack to it!  If it gets stuck in the wrong place, you’ve had it!  It basically involves self adhesive board, a roller, patience and a steady hand!  Hmmm, well, I wouldn’t try it!  But a Framer usually has these skills!

Dry Mounting or Hotpress

Quite a few Framers use this method on photography.  Indeed it is an option we also sometimes use.  There are different definitions of this but I’m referring in particular to a machine, manufactured by Hotpress.

It’s a high temperature press, which uses mounting tissue to seal and press the item onto a board (usually mounting board).  It is not recommended for everything and some Framers just don’t like it.  There is a lot of debate about the harshness of this process.  However, it can be very good when used correctly.  We would never recommend it for anything with high value or original (or limited edition) artwork of any kind.

It’s not without it’s problems and some people are adamant it’s a method to be avoided.  If, for example, it’s pressed onto the wrong board it can produce a ripple effect across the picture, which I find can be unsightly.  The bed also has to be kept clean so that dust can’t get trapped in it.  Of course, there is dust in the air, so with any method you could, in theory get a rogue speck!

In my own personal experience, this method can sometimes spoil a nice glossy photo as it the finish seems to lose the lustre somewhat.

Light Jet or Jet Mounting

This is my preferred option.  Hope I’ve got the term right, that’s what I call it anyway!  (I’m checking with my Printer who does this for me, so there may be an update on this!)  Usually, a professional printers will have this or similar equipment.  You can look up on Google on all the techy side, how it works etc.  In my opinion, the finish looks far more professional.

For a start, you can choose your finish.  At a basic level you can choose from glossy, matt, silk or crystal.  This then gives you far more artistic input into the finished framed product.

From a framing point of view, it’s wonderful.  For example, recently, we had a photographic print done in this way and it was so easily handled.  You can touch it, wipe it, polish it, I love it!  It looks good behind glass or you can just have it done as it is and display it that way.  Much more flexibility as far as I’m concerned.

Having popped to the Weston Universities end of year Art Students Show, I noticed how many of them had used this option.  Many had displayed their work, frameless.  Pieces had been mounted onto 5mm foamboard to give it a 3D effect.  Simple and effective (although, I’d prefer a frame with that!).

There are, of course, differences in cost but whichever method you choose, find time to talk it over with your Framer.  If you are not happy with the options given, try another or ask your current Framer to investigate.  We love finding out about things we don’t know of!  After all, us Framers can’t know everything!  We are constantly learning, updating our skills and new methods come along all the time.

Next blog in this series is: General framing materials to use and conservation considerations.

How to: guide to framing photography – part 2

In this blog: a word about photographic papers and inks in relation to framing.  A guide on how to take care of your photographs before they come in for framing

Today, it’s a mine field when considering framing materials and techniques.  There are so many options, conflicting information and differing opinions!  My primary advice would be to gather as much advice, research as far as you can and don’t rush into anything!  At some point you will have to put your trust in someone!  Even within the framing industry the “experts” can disagree.

With home printing abundant, it has become more accessible and affordable.  Whilst this is great, it can present the framing industry, professional printers and photographers with big problems in terms of quality and handling.

A word about photographic prints and inks

It is often hard for us to tell, what kind of paper it has been printed on or which inks have been used.  For a start, I’m not a photographer or a printer.  Paper of any kind is extremely unpredictable and susceptible to the environment (e.g. moisture and other conditions).

Many inks are not stable and can easily be smudged or damaged.  The other day we were working on something that had been printed from home and it was a nightmare to work with.  The inks were wrong for the paper and wouldn’t dry, even weeks later.

I’m sure professional printers will agree that it makes it very difficult to make people understand the difference in quality.  If you are wanting to keep a picture safe that holds special memories, it’s important to look at your options.

As I say many times over on this blog, not every framing job is going to warrant the same levels of framing.  We understand about budgets, but it is frustrating at times!

We get photographs printed up for our own examples at exhibitions and we spend quite a bit of money getting it right (and that’s before we even think about the framing side!).

I had a mind blowing conversation with a fine art printer the other day in Bristol about the type of paper he would recommend.  Fascinating!

So, unless your photo has no value whatsoever (in which case you probably would buy a ready made frame anyway), it’s worth thinking about the materials.

Taking care of your photo’s before getting them framed

This is such a common problem that Framers have to do deal with.  This applies to all pictures actually not just photography.

The most common nightmares are:

  • Rolled up pictures in a tube or otherwise

Bain of a Framers life I’m afraid!  It’s a contradiction really because it’s the best way to keep a picture safe especially when storing or posting.  The problem usually comes when you come to get them out of the tubes and unravel them.

Quite often even if you are extra careful, the picture can get damaged or creased when you are rolling or taking it out.  There are ways that you can minimise this happening.

Don’t use your fingers to pull the picture out of a tube, shake it out instead (there is a knack to this).  Of course, the Framer will need to look at the picture, to measure it and for you both to choose a suitable frame, so take care when flattening it out on the table for viewing.

I’m sure someone will shout out, there is some sort of gadget for this, but to be honest we’ve tried quite a few things and talked to other framers about this, we all seem to have the same problems.

Some of the damage can be “ironed out” with dry mounting or other methods (more on this in the next blog) but some are unable to be rectified.  Sometimes the damage can be made worse by using some flattening out methods.

Mostly, people don’t notice they are damaged until we point it out.  Sometimes, it can only be seen in certain lights, but it will show when it’s up on the wall.

  • Finger Prints

You would be surprised how many lovely glossy newly printed photo’s come in with big finger prints over them.  Please make sure you handle them with care or with cotton gloves.

Again, normally what happens is, you can only see them in certain lights and that light is bound to be when you put it up on your wall, it will glare at you forever!  Personally, we won’t try to get any marks off as it could end up damaging your print further.  This goes back to the not knowing which inks and paper have been used.

  • General

It may sound obvious but whatever or however you decide to store your item, just handle and transport it with care.  It may save you money in the long run.

By the by, in writing this blog and it being the Eurovision Song Contest today, I now can’t get Bucks Fizzes song “the camera never lies” out of my head.  It’s going to be a long long day …

Next blog – How To: Guide on framing photography – Part 3

Note: This article is meant as a general guide and the opinions and procedures are my own.  For help on a specific item, talk to your local picture framer or seek further clarification from the Fine Art Trade Guild.

How to: frame photography – an introduction

As framers, we get asked a lot about the best way to frame photography.  It’s a funny one, people lump it into one, but there are so many different types of papers and styles.

In my opinion, Photography is still not taken as seriously as it should be in terms of conservation or as an art form in its own right.  I get very hot under the collar when people think of photography as throw away.

It can sometimes be seen as having no value just because it can be re-printed (but of course so can art in the form of a Giclee print!).  It is often said that because of digital cameras, there is no artistic skill involved, but it’s just a tool, a medium like any other art form.

People are generally more creative these days in terms of the way their treasured family, friends, pets and life events are photographed.  Whether it’s in a studio or out on location.  A photo shoot is a treasured memory for all involved.  If you’ve spent a lot of money and invested time in getting these done, then due consideration should be taken to framing these images.

Some Photographers offer great and professional framing options.  But shop around for advice and ideas first.  Sometimes, the choices and the advice can be limited.  Photographers are not picture framers (unless they are of course, then that is entirely different!).  Some Photographer’s work with other picture framers which is a great idea and can work really well.  But be careful of high handling costs!  This is certainly not true for all, but just take a little time to make sure you are absolutely happy.

Of course, not every photo will warrant the highest level of framing.  Still, it’s good to armed with the knowledge before you make a decision.

If you just want to get a “throw away” (and I use the term loosely) family snap framed, then of course, you are probably not necessarily going to spend the money getting it done.  There are plenty of stores that can cater to the cheaper or readymade side for this purpose.

Sometimes, though, if you want something better quality but again, you are not worried about the conservation, you could ask your local framer to make a “made to measure ready frame”.  (I cover this in a previous blog).

To me, if you are going to display anything on your walls, then it should look the best it possibly can and therefore is worth taking it to a framer for advice and suggestions.  Take the time to run through the options, digest them, and then make an informed decision.

In this blog, I will aim to cover the relevant considerations bit by bit, from your regular school/university photo type framing, up to the professional & fine art type framing.

As an amateur photographer myself, I fully understand what a mine field this can be.  These days there are so many factors to consider when framing photographs.  With so many people being able to print off their work from home printers and more access to affordable equipment for amateur  photographers, is no wonder it all gets a bit hazy.  Then there is the question of conservation for old and new photos and what about low level general protection?

I will aim to deal with each part separately, hopefully answering common questions at all stages.  I have broken it down as follows:

  1. A word about photographic papers and inks in relation to framing.  A guide on how to take care of your photographs before they come in for framing.
  2. Common problems and how to rectify them including dry mounting and other techniques.
  3. General framing materials to use and conservation considerations.
  4. How to attach a photograph correctly to a mount and why we use a mount or slip when framing photography.
  5. Considerations when mounting multiple photographs.
  6. Creative and contemporary ideas.
  7. Framing large and / or panoramic photographs.

The above should help you whether you are a professional photographer, camera club member, student or just want to get something nicely framed for your home.

Picture Framing: How to look after your frame at home

I reckon framers should take a certificate in basic Counselling skills, once you get to know your regulars, I swear they just come in for a chat and to off load.  So, I had to use all my empathy one day, when a heart broken customer brought in a damaged framed print.

We knew straight away what had happened to it.  Recently, the customer had re-plastered their walls and after redecorating, hung the picture back up.  This caused mould to form, very unsightly indeed.

So, with this in mind, I thought this was an important set of standard information to have up on the blog.

The following advice comes from experience, tales and the Fine Art Trade Guild.  General guidelines to keep in mind:

Don’t hang work on newly plastered walls!

It is recommended that you wait six months before hanging up work on newly plastered walls.

Beware damp

Damp can cause pictures to ripple. If the ripples touch the glass, the picture might stick and be hard to remove. Damp also encourages fungal growth – likely to show as brown stains. Conservation framing can slow these effects, but it is always best to avoid hanging framed pictures in humid conditions


When you hang your picture, try to avoid walls exposed to direct sunlight as it could bleach your picture and deteriorate the paper.


If you have to store your picture for any length of time, take care that the picture is standing vertically the way it would be displayed.  Standing pictures sideways or upside down could damage the mountings.

Temperature and humidity

To prevent extreme buckling, try to avoid hanging works of art (particularly if any value), above radiators, fireplaces or other heating system. Sudden changes in temperature and/or humidity brought about by close source of heat will cause the paper to change shape and buckle. Likewise, damp areas such as un-insulated brick walls and bathrooms will have similar effect due to the high level of humidity.

If your work has been dry-mounted this effect will have almost entirely been removed. Do not be disturbed however by miner fluctuations in the stability (flatness) of the print/picture, paper is extremely sensitive to the everyday changes in heat and humidity.

Hanging large pictures

If the picture you have is large and therefore is heavy, it is important to hang and display your work safely and without placing undue stress on the frame. Use two picture hooks that are anchored to your wall with nails (or two screws and raw-plugs of a suitable size) placed about six inches in from the inside of the frame.

Fixing & hanging

Do not use pressure sensitive hooks, whatever the size of frame, as the adhesive will eventually weaken and the picture will fall off the wall. Once the picture is hung, be sure that the cord is held securely in the crook of the picture hook and not on the head of the nail, where it could slip off.


Now that your picture is hung securely, you will want to care for it periodically. When cleaning the glass, spray your cleaner onto a rag first, then wipe over the glass. Spraying cleaning fluid directly onto the glass is likely to result in stains to the mount and/or picture, as cleaning fluid will flow behind the glass.

Metal frames can be cleaned with either glass cleaner or a mild detergent applied with a soft rag. Natural wood frames are best maintained with a standard furniture polish applied sparingly with a soft cloth. Dust all frames with a clean cloth.


Once a year, take your picture off the wall and check that the hooks are securely attached to the wall, and that the picture cord has not frayed or stretched and weakened.

From time to time, you may need to take your frame back to the framer for extra maintenance.  E.g. a stretched canvas may slacken over time and will need to be re-stretched. Tape or cord may need to be replaced.  Generally though, your frame should last a good while.


Picture Framing: How to transport frames

I sometimes sit at the shop window, watching the customers walk up the road with their freshly framed pictures.  Not just because I’m a bit strange, but because I am constantly amazed at how they get treated once they leave the shop (the frames that is, not the customers!).

Off they skip, swinging it about and dumping it in the car.  Our Framer can’t bear to look!

So, without being too prissy, what is the best way to get your new frames from A to B safely?  The basics are common sense or are they?  It’s a fine balance when a customer picks something up, you want to advise them, but at the same time you don’t want to come across as patronising.

Of course, some of the protection is down to the way the Framer packages the item for collection but this can only go so far.  Short of giving each customer a metal bullet proof case to transport each picture, there are three simple rules that should help:

1. Stack multiple pictures glass to glass (front to front)

We normally do this for the customer, so that they naturally carry them this way.  By stacking the frames “glass to glass”, you ensure that the hooks on the back, do not scratch the front.

2. Carry using both hands, holding both sides

This is especially important on medium to large pictures.  NEVER hold your frame on one side as this may weaken the structure (even if it is strong).

I wouldn’t recommend you hold it by the string or wire either.  This is because the stress you place upon the hooks and string is not the same type of stress as when it hangs on the wall.  Even if you are careful, it is likely that you are placing unreasonable stress on the fixings.  For example, a necklace chain is very strong, but it wasn’t designed for you to constantly tug at it.

As well as advising them not to do the above, we would normally offer to carry the frame to the customer’s car for them.

3. Careful how you place it in the car

This can be so important.  With small to medium pictures it’s more obvious; make sure it lays somewhere secure, where it can’t move and don’t put other items on top of it.

But with bigger pictures, it’s more difficult.  If you have a large flat surface in your car, or it’s a tall vehicle, then it’s a lot easier.  Either way, you must make sure it’s supported properly.  In extreme cases, if there is too much “bounce” it could crack the glass or distort the frame.  (Obviously, this does depend on the thickness of the glass or how long your journey is etc.)

Normally, we would carry the frame to the customer’s car and place it in ourselves.  That way we can be satisfied that it has left safely.  We also offer delivery to their home or workplace.

It’s a good idea to tell the customer why you are doing what you are doing, so that they understand when unpacking at the other end.

If you follow these simple rules, then your frames should arrive in one piece.  After all, it would be very sad having taken the time and money to get an item framed, to then fall at the final hurdle.

For further information and advice, contact your Framer or visit the Fine Art Trade Guild’s website.

Coming next: how to take care of your frames at home




How to…Frame Pastels or Charcoals

Which is the right way to frame Pastel paintings, is something we often get asked.  Framers generally agree on a right way, but some will do it differently and you should ask your Framer at the time of placing an order if you are concerned.

We’ve had many a customer who are either not happy with the way it had already been framed elsewhere, attempted it themselves or brought from an amateur artist who wasn’t aware of the framing options and requirements.

In this blog, I talk about the way we were taught but the most important thing to remember, is that however you decide to get it framed, as long as the materials or the process haven’t damaged the artwork, it can simply be re-framed and corrected.

A piece of art completed in Pastels or Charcoals, has to be treated differently from framing a regular print in other mediums.

This is because by their very nature, they produce particles of dust, which can dislodge at anytime, even if it has been “fixed”(*) (although it will be less likely).

The problem is, if not handled and framed with care, the dust can make a mess of your nice clean mount (card border) or can gather in an unsightly manner at the bottom of your frame (if un-mounted).  You also have to consider how it will affect the actual look and lustre of the picture itself.

To overcome this, it would need to be mounted with an under Mount (sometimes known as a spacer or inner Mat/Mount).

The under Mount does its job in the background and it is not meant to be visible.  It provides a gap to catch the dust and circulate the air.

It keeps the top Mount(s) and any visible areas free from dust particles.

A Pastel or Charcoal painting, in my opinion, should not be framed without a Mount.  The Mount does the job of hiding the under Mount, keeping the glass away from the picture and enhancing/complimenting the look of the artwork.

This means that you would usually consider a frame with suitable depth to house the materials and the picture.  (For example, you would need a depth of at least 5mm.  This is because the thinnest glass is 2mm thick, then you have the artwork, at least two mounts, barrier board and backing board – phew!).

In terms of materials, Mounts should be acid-free (sometimes known as archival) and acid-free barrier board should be used between the artwork and the backing to ensure suitable protection.

Dependent on budget, plain glass can be used as long as it is not touching the artwork.  Non-reflective glass, in my opinion, should not be used because it can hinder the view of the piece (see earlier blog on glass options).  However, to ensure a good level of protection, we would be recommending a higher grade of glass, for example, UV filtering glass.  These options can be discussed with your Framer and obviously is dependent on your budget.

Note: to keep your picture safe before framing, try to keep your pictures flat, avoid touching the surface and keep away from water.  Some Artists prefer not to “fix”(*) their artwork as they believe it can dull or change the pigment.  Also avoid harsh vibrations.

It is said that using “hammer-in” style bumpers should not be used as they could shake loose some of the dust.

It is also advised not to use Plexiglass or Acrylic as static electricity can pull the particles from the paintings surface.

Always get advice from a professional picture framer, artist or art organisation before going ahead.


(*) What is Fixing?

Fixing is a term usually applied to a picture, such as a pastel that has had some kind of fixative spray applied to the surface.  This would ensure the dust particles are more secure.  Many artists are against the use of fixing a picture as they believe it can change the pigment and dull the colours.

Seek help and advice on this from a Professional Artist or art organisation.