Simplicity can be the key

Modern and contemporary framing techniques aim to simply frame a piece of art, allowing the entire focus of the viewer to be absorbed by the art itself.  Our client for the framed pieces below is the artist of the works.  Her vision for her prints stand strong within the minimalistic frames chosen.

Framing a piece with a white mat and matching white frame is a clean approach which allows the art to “pop” as the colors are amplified by the plain borders around the piece.  This is a very powerful method for framing prints as every unique detail boldly stands out to the viewer.  The ¼ inch float mount for this print physically brings the piece closer to the viewer within the shadowbox of the frame. The piece dramatically creates a shadow beneath to add complexity to the white on white framing style.  The piece is given space to breathe and become the soul energy.


This print on genuine leather has been stretched and sits within a 5/16 inch wide black floating frame.  The bright shades of the piece are offset by the thin, dark border of the floating frame.  The ¼ inch space between the art and the interior edge of the frame creates a chasm that acts as an effective double border.  Not only does this enlarge the framed piece, it prevents the lacquered black frame from overpowering the print.  This is a border that creates more breathing room and adds complexity to the framing job.  This soft leather piece is protected by a ¼ inch recess into the frame as there is no glass in front of the art.


Adventurous Austerity

Even when sticking to the golden rule of “less is more”, there are a lot of ways to get creative. Take for example this beautiful woodcut we framed recently. The piece itself is bold but diminutive; it needed a frame that wouldn’t overpower it, yet would match it’s strength of line and form.

We used one of our handmade maple moldings with a steep inner bevel, which gives the illusion of a delicately narrow face. The brushed steel finish compliments the energetic, scratchy lines of the woodcut. We chose a linen-wrapped mat with a rough texture and creamy-white tone in order to brighten the paper, which had yellowed over time. This we stacked over an 8-ply black mat, so that just the dark bevel shows, subtly outlining the piece and creating a very deep incline to match the outer slopes of the frame.

Even though there are no wild colors (thats a good thing!), this adventurous framing job strays far from the ordinary without relinquishing its sleek, modern elegance.

What Framing can do for your piece: 1940 to 2013

Sometimes a piece of art just needs a makeover. Recently, we framed a lithograph that was was funded by the Works Progress Administration, which was part of FDR’s New Deal program.  This particular piece was originally framed in a set and purchased sometime in the late forties.  For decades, the pieces resided at different households in twin frame designs until one of them made it’s way over to us for repair. This “before” photo shows the sister piece, which remains in its original frame.

Not only was this litho in need of an aesthetic update, but the non-archival material encasing it for so many years had caused the paper to turn yellow. Yellowing is caused by an acid called lignin (which naturally occurs in wood) as it reacts to air and sunlight. As the process of discoloration progresses, the paper becomes brittle and eventually crumbles. That’s why using acid-free mats and UV-protected glass is so important. No matter how far the deterioration process has progressed, these materials will stop it in its tracks!

We chose a unique commercial moulding with a silvery-black finish and a scalloped shape. The variation in the black finish brings out the subtleties in the lithograph’s tones, while the organic shapes in the moulding itself highlight the swirling patterns in the image’s moody sky. The mat we chose was a slightly brownish clay tone—a few shades lighter than the paper—but not so white as to call attention to the yellowness. These choices meshed well but there was still something missing, some detail needed to pull all the elements together. This situation called for a fillet! A fillet is a thin lip of moulding that sits inside the opening of the frame. A fillet is a handy way to add detail to a frame that needs just a little something extra. The touch of gold added a warm glow to the whole piece, and gave it a more vintage and regal look, placing it in the time period in which it was made, without making it looked “dated”.

Framing can have a dramatic effect on a work of art—both in how it will be perceived by a viewer, and how well it will hold up over the years. Each detail counts towards the overall finished product, and sometimes the smallest element—a fillet for example—can make all the difference.