More on Framing

Almost all two dimensional art requires a frame to set off the image in its surroundings as well as providing a method of hanging or standing. Whilst it is possible to achieve the latter with a cheap or second-hand frame the results are never as good as framing chosen to sympathetically match the work and its environment. By convention most oil or acrylic paintings are framed without glass protection and some, on canvas stretched over a frame, may be hung without framing i.e. “box framed”.

When framing work it is essential to ensure all materials used are of the correct specification, this is particularly important with anything that might come into contact with the work. Many everday papers and sticky tapes are acidic by nature when these materials are placed against the work this acidity may, in time, result in brown marks, “foxing”, often seen on old books and documents. Another problem with masking and clear film tapes is they loose their stickiness in time.

Bespoke framing will comprise a frame made to size, a mount (or mat in North America) which serves to provide a border between the work and frame as well as keeping the face of the work away from the glass. The work should not be allowed to touch the glass except in the case of simple framing of cheap posters. Behind the work will be a protective barrier and then a stiffer backing board. The glass, mount, work, barrier and backing form a sandwich which is fixed into the frame with special flat pins  and then sealed on the rear with an adhesive tape. The object being to prevent moisture and tiny insects getting into the frame.

Our frame mouldings are mostly cut using our automatic cycle double headed mitre saw. We still have the traditional tool used by framers, the Morso Guillotine, but it is rarely if ever used. The saw blades are particularly fine and produce an accurate smooth cut.

To join the corners of a frame the corners are held together whilst “wedges” are pressed into the underside, the wedges are shaped so as to pull the two pieces together. Depending on the dimension of the moulding several wedges may be inserted at intervals across the length of the joint. We use a computerised system for making the joints. After calling up the appropriate moulding details the machine then knows where and how many wedges to insert.

Watercolour fading

One of the disadvantages of original water colours is their tendency to fade when subjected to ultra violet  (UV) light. Unfortunately sunlight is a prime culprit and UV light can be reflected around a room even though the work is not in direct sunlight. Hallways and rooms with north facing windows are the best places to hand watercolours and there is so called “museum glass” which can prevent most of the UV light getting through to the picture.
Modern fine art printing by the so called “Giclee” process is much more resistant to fading. Our work is warranted not to noticeably fade in 100 years when hung in a normal household environment.

DIY framing

Whilst it is possible for most competent diy enthusiasts to frame a picture with hand tools the professional framer will use a variety of equipment to carry out the various tasks efficiently and, most of all, accurately. We are more than happy to provide the diy framer with any parts he might need e.g. frames, glass, backing, mounts all cut to your specifications.


The material from which the frame is made is known as the frame moulding. There are literally 1000’s of different mouldings to choose. Many, if not most, come ready finished in paint, gold leaf, silver etc. Some mouldings are left without finish. The hardwoods like oak, ash and beach simply being polished or left bare whilst some of the softer woods like Obeche lend themselves to various paint finishes. There is an increasing use of recycled plastics to manufacture picture mouldings. They have the advantage of stability, as wood tends to shrinks and expand with changes in humidity and have a inconsistency in size and finish. Most people would not be able to distinguish between a finished wood or plastic moulding


When wood is shaped to form a profile along its length the process is called “moulding” often using a machine called a “spindle moulder”. When the shaping is finished the length of wood  might be described as “a moulding”.

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