Framing Tips

Design Tip #1 – Mat Border Proportions

Hudson 216180_peacock Hudson Peacock Small

Mat border widths change in popularity somewhat like hemlines
on dresses. The current style is the use of wider borders than
the typical borders used 10 or 20 years ago.

Today many people look at mats as an opportunity to add
color to the frame design, but originally mats were neutral in color
and used to provide visual relief between the art and its
surroundings. More generous mat borders enable you to focus on
the art much more easily.

Design Tip #2 – When You do not use a Mat, Try a Wider Frame Moulding

Tapestry Dancer

When your frame design doesn’t include a mat, the frame you
select may need to make up for it. The frame shown on the left,
may have looked nice with a mat border, but without the mat, it
looks skimpy and can bring down the perceived value of the art.
Using the wider frame on the right the overall size is still smaller
than it may have been with a typical mat border width, but it
helps make the art look more interesting and important.

Framing Tip #3 – Use Conservation Grade Glass or Acrylic

Ferrosa II Sunset Ferrosa II Sunset faded

The design on the left shows this framed art in its orginal state. Due to damage
from ultra-violet lighting (either sun or artificial light) the art and mat faded to
look we see at the right.

Conservation grade glazing protects from most of the harmful light rays. By
investing a bit more in protective glazing, you will maintain the integrity of your
framed art and increase its longevity.

Framing Tip #4 – The Shape of the Moulding Profile can Relate to the Art

Taffy FMTF3_172405_Lady Bug_E Grosch_1123816b Cranbrook II JB Hall Abstract - small for eblast

The rounded shape of the frame moulding on the left relates to the
round ladybug, as well as all the spots on the bug. The three square
profiles stacked together to frame the art on the right tie to the pre-
dominantly square shapes the artist used.

Framing Tip #5 – Handle Acrylic with CARE!


The surface of most acrylic is highly susceptible to scratches and scuff
marks. You can help protect its appearance by using non-abrasive
cleaners made for acrylic and soft clothes instead of paper. Also, use a
feather duster, or even better, compressed air from a spray can, to
remove the dust particles.

Framing Tip #6 – The Layers of a Double or Triple Mat Can ALL Be The Same Color

Wren 478142_ABC_G Perkins 280 Ansley Sean Scully

Many people just assume if there are multiple layers of matting used,
each layer needs to be a different color. Actually, using the same color
for all layers can simplify the design and keep attention focused on
the art.

Framing Tip #7 – When to Use Clear (Shiny) Glass or Acrylic

1123063--thomaspaul 1124125-Biltmore 1123441-Biltmore

Clear finish glass or acrylic helps to maintain sharp lines and shapes,
bold colors and fine details. The use of non-glare (also called Reflection
Control) products can soften or mute these types of images.

Framing Tip #8 – When to Use Non-Glare Glass or Acrylic

1122745-Danna-Harvey 1124346-Jane-Guthridge[1] 1121893-Dana-Johns

Non-Glare (also called Reflection Control) has a soft finish and it will
diffuse details and colors. It looks great when the art itself seems
intentionally soft in focus or muted in color.

Framing Tip #9 – Frames Can Vary in Style From the Art

Bottles_Marko 127 Savilla Tarpaper House

Many pieces of art look great when framed in a moulding style that’s
unexpected. The art on the left is contemporary in style, but done in
a somewhat crude and primitive manner. The frame has those same
qualities, helping them work well together. The piece on the right by
a folk artist is fun and light-hearted, The ornate frame adds a
whimsical touch, bringing out that character.

Framing Tip #10 – High Contrast Frame Designs

PETITE_FM_334916_B&W Photo Portrait by L Omelianchuk 3 Lucerne_Merian Butterflies by NYBG_cropped L7 458184&108184_Silverware b

The black and white photo at left has a much stronger degree of
contrast than the print or the silverware. Therefore it looks best
with a high contrast frame design. In case you don’t know, black
and white provide the highest degree of contrast of any colors.
The print in the middle is framed using a softer black and creamy
color rather than white. This lessens the contrast to relate to the
art. The range of colors in the silverware has even less contrast
so that frame design has less contrast.

Framing Tip #11 – When to Bottom-Weight a Mat

Veranda Dunes Tribeca C Allen Abstract c Senelar Veg Botanical 1

A bottom-weighted mat is one where the border below the art is
wider than the borders on top and sides. Logical reasons to
bottom-weight include when the lower half of the art is darker
or contains larger shapes or patterns than the upper half. You may
also choose it for a classic look or on art of value that you do not want
to cut down.

Framing Tip #12 – Designing Multiple Opening Mats

F040 Malabar Hunt Scenes

When you want to place more than one picture in a frame, a multiple
opening mat provides the means to bring them together. It is common
to use a wider border around the outer edges than the amount of
space you use between images. When working with more than a few
pieces, it can add interest to use different mat opening shapes.