A frame is essentially an outline, border or case for enclosing any piece of art. It can also be referred to as a consolidated structure of slender parts, that come together to hold a picture, poster or any piece of art that needs to be displayed.
In order to be able to understand the process of framing and it’s details, one needs to get familiar with framing technologies. Listed are a few technical terms that are a part of the framing industry, that help you understand your framing requirements in a better manner.
THE MAT: Being known by multiple names like the edge, the surround, the board and many more, this is the most important in framing process. It gives structure to the artwork and holds it up. The mat mostly has bevelled or 45 degrees angle edges.
It is available in different colours and textures and the manufacturing decides the price and quality. You can get a mat that satisfies your aesthetic. It serves as an added element to your artwork. The artwork is placed right in the middle of the mat.
THE ARTWORK: Artwork refers to the creative piece that is to be framed. More often than not it is a painting, prints or photos. Ideally the type of frame should be compatible with the type of artwork. For instance, expensive or exclusive artworks should be framed in good quality or premium framing devices.
THE ACCESSORIES: The most popular methods of displaying artwork using a frame is to attach two D shaped hooks behind the frame and to connect them with a metal wire or stapling a curtain cord across the back of the frame from one wooden frame end to the other.
The former is most commonly used for inexpensive artworks, however, the latter is used for more exclusive and expensive artworks. In addition to the above accessories, rubber pads are used on all for corners of the frame. These prevent the frame edges from damaging walls and leaving marks.
RABBET DEPTH: It is essentially defined as the amount of space inside the frame to accomodate your artwork package. In this case, you can equate rabbet depth to the space inside your suitcase or the depth of the suitcase.
It is the volume of the inside of the frame and is the most fundamental part of the structure of a frame. For all modern frames, the rabbet depth is usually mentioned in the product description. However, it is advisable to check rabbet depth of a frame before purchasing it.
SPACERS: A spacer is the object that separates the artwork from the glass or surface of the frame on the inside. Spacers are usually used for dimensional artwork and are used when mats aren’t.
They can be custom curated - spacers are mostly made of wood, plastic or mat board. Spacers come in different depth dimensions and therefore it is essential for you to check dimensions for your artwork before purchasing a spacer.
STRAINERS: Strainers are like the backbone of the frame and your artwork. They are the hard bound inner frame behind your artwork and provide support. They hold the artwork up and are also used to attach the backside hinge or hook to hang the frame.
Listed above are the main components of a frame. In addition to these terms, to get into deeper technicality, you might want to understand the following:
MOULDING: Moulding is what started it all. It is the process of putting together finely cut wood to form a frame to hold your artwork. Mouldings come in a huge variety of textures, colours, shapes and sizes. Ornamental mouldings are also available, they can be customised to the users taste.
ARCHIVAL: Paper materials are used for framing. Any paper material with a pH of 7 is acid-free. This pH level ensures safety and durability of the framed artwork. Archival framing ensures longevity of the artwork.
CONSERVATION FRAMING: This method of framing refers to the use of acid-free or pH 7 paper material for framing and ensures the safety of your expensive artwork.
BEVELED MIRROR: It is a mirror on the exterior of the frame and is angled around the edges. The angles are only about 10-30 but gives an elegant look to your framed artwork. You can choose the width of the bevel according to your artwork.
DRY-MOUNTING: Attaching an artwork onto a frame board is usually done via heat or pressure. Dry mounting is usually done for newspaper articles, posters etc. Exclusive and limited edition artworks are attached using an adhesive and not dry-mounting.
LAMINATION: It is the process of applying a thin film onto your artwork inorder to protect it. It is usually applied using heat or pressure. Limited edition artworks are usually not laminated. Lamination is also used as an alternative option for glazing.
SHADOW-BOX: This is a frame with a width. Shadow boxes are usually used to display objects that are bigger in size and of different shapes and sizes. For instance, a jersey, football, tickets, photos etc are usually stored in a shadow box. The name stems from the fact that the width of the box enables a natural shadow of the objects displayed within.
UV PROTECTION: UV protection refers to shielding your artwork from the sun's rays. The ultra violet radiation in the atmosphere can discolour your piece of art and therefore can damage it. Special glasses(frame glass), laminates etc are available in the market, that are curated to protect the artwork from such harmful rays.
If you are an artist or aspire to preserve your art in the most efficient manner, then it is essential for you to understand the above terminologies. If you are to host or be part of an artwork display or exhibition, then this framing manual will come in handy. They will help you understand the steps to maintaining your artwork and therefore preserving your art piece easily.