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How We Frame (and a Cute Pig, Too)

We love us some good advice. Getting it, giving it, spreading the word. You know, so as not to constantly reinvent the wheel. And there are two things we get asked more than anything: 1) Dudes, where’s the fur? (answered right here), and 2) How do you frame? Hey, I didn’t say they would be related in any way.

Often times, the latter is prefaced with where do you get your frames? This is easy. All our modern frames come from Ikea. We love the Ribba series, and we use this frame for a fool-proof finish (as seen in our wacko pet portraits). Anything else is often times found at flea markets and yard sales. And if you find your perfect frame sans glass or backing, well, that’s a quick fix (just keep reading!).

This is generally followed by and then what? I remember being totally frustrated by these same nagging questions – years of rolled up, unframed art, papers, and prints are proof – but I’ve since found a way that works for us, and so maybe it can work for you, too.

So let’s set the scene with Sharon Montrose and her Piglet, No. 2 (more on that right here) and our sweet flippin’ frame we scored at the Randolph Street Fest. No glass. No backing.

We toyed with a few options on how we should mat and hang. Will it go vertical? Should we bottom weight? Shall we try a colored mat? Or a white border? Or a double mat? Or, or could we rest our chunko on top of the mat, a la Aubrey + Lindsay?

In the end, we chose traditional. White mat, centered with no borders, hung horizontally. How un-very like us, huh? We (read: Scott) decided on this unassuming display based on a few simple factors: 1) We were framing a pig, for goodness’ sake, 2) We were leaving our gaudy gold frame as-is (no cure-all white in this case!), and 3) We were going to hang it on our wall of caa-razy paper.

We use Frames by Mail.com for fast, inexpensive and precise mats. We’ve gotten countless mats cut from this site, and we’ve been a satisfied customer almost every time. (The “almost” actually came into play with this exact order and bloggie example – it was delivered to our front door, cut too small by about an 1/8. We called, they re-cut with no argument, and we were happy again.) With that said, here’s how we get down with their Mat Designer.

First, measure your print, subtracting 1/4-1/2″ from this for your opening (more if you’re planning on cropping in). In our case, our print was 12 3/4″ w x 10″h, and we chose an opening of 12 1/4″ x 9 1/2,” leaving 1/4″ of wiggle room on all four sides – more than enough.

The actual frame opening  is 20 1/4″ x 24 1/4,” including the small lip for your mat, print, and glass to fall into. We decided to go with a 20″ x 24″ mat, which would leave us 1/8″ around all sides (and still fall nicely into the lip). We then subtract the print opening width and height from 20″ x 24″ and divide by 2. This gave us a top and bottom width of 5 1/4,” and a side width of  5 7/8.” (Again, we chose to center our print, so if you’re planning on adding a bottom weight, you can play with the top and bottom width until you’re satisfied.) After entering this info into the Designer, a preview of your mat shows up in the right hand side, and measurements auto populate in your pricing breakdown so you know you’re on the right track. At this point, you also have the option to add a foam core backing, which we did.

In total, our custom mat plus foam core backing and shipping came to $22.38. Not bad, considering hobby frame shops can be upwards of $50+, and that’s estimating on the low, low side. We love you, internet shopping.

Next up, glass. The last thing you’d want is for your glass to fall through, but you still need to allow for that bit of wiggle room to be able to drop the panel in the opening (without crushing and cracking it out of frustration). We got ours cut at Ace hardware for $7 in a 20 1/8″ x 24 1/8″ size, which still allowed1/16″ around all sides. (Note: While we could have also based our mat measurements off of the 20 1/8″ x 24 1/8″ size, we were okay going with 20″ x 24″ for two reasons. 1) It would all be held in place with the slightly larger glass while still being concealed in the lip, and 2) the math was much easier that way.)

After we’ve wiped down our flea frame and dropped in clean glass, we attach our art print to the mat with two small pieces of photo safe, acid free scrap booking tape. It can easily be removed and re-stuck as many times as necessary – until that print pops through the mat opening just right.

After verifying that all is good on the front (catching a careful peek before you seal the deal will assure you’re free and clear of trapped dust – most of which can be removed with your fingertip), you’re ready to slide in the foam core backing and get started with the staple gun. I apply modest pressure (you don’t want to crack the glass, but you can’t be a pansy either) and staple at a downward angle. At the same time, you don’t want to be completely pushed up against the frame. The goal is getting the staple to just punch in. If it goes in too far, a bitty pry with a flat head screwdriver should do the trick, and I use my thumb to press my homemade “clip” down for extra security. For this particular frame, I used 4 staples on each short side and 5 on each long side.

Our print came with a signed certificate from Sharon (yay!), and a few more swatches of scrap booking tape kept it in place on the back. Whenever possible, we like to include any artist information behind the print.

Lastly, hang your art! I did the majority of the framing while Scott was at work, and as soon as he saw it, well, I swear I don’t remember the last time I framed something that made him that happy. It’s a piglet (!), what can I say.

Yeah, so we’re totally smitten with this dude. And on the wallpaper, too! Give me a break. The cuteness implodes my heart. The only back end cuter than this guy’s belongs to our Libby.

And that, my friends, is how we frame. Please bear in mind that there are many, many ways to do so – and there are just as many options, vendors, and price points. In the end, this is how we roll. And of course this leads us to ask you: How do you frame? All you smarties surely have more tips and secret vendors, yeah?

  • Elisa - July 27, 2011 - 9:58 AM

    The only appropriate comment for this cute piggie is:

    Squueeee! :DReplyCancel

  • Sara {House Bella} - July 27, 2011 - 10:37 AM

    I follow the exact same steps (with the exception that sometimes I do my own mats – I’m thrifty (err, cheap!) like that), but instead of using a staple gun I use glazier points. Super easy to put in, no risk of hurting the glass or yourself, and they are really secure.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda @ Our Humble A{Bowe}d - July 27, 2011 - 11:43 AM

    That’s pretty much what we do, too. Though, because I’m suuuuuper cheap, I buy a large sheet of mat board from Hobby Lobby to cut my own mats. Sure they don’t have a beveled edge, but they look just fine. Love your little piggy, too. :)ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - July 27, 2011 - 12:23 PM

    This is perfect! I needed a tutorial :)

    I avoid framing at this point because I can’t seem to get it right. I had expensive mattes cut for a bunch of my silk screened concert posters, never put them together and then ruined all the mattes in a little flood in our basement. Now I know where to get new ones! And have great tips for putting it all together.

    That little piglet, sooo cute!!ReplyCancel

  • Danielle@Newlyweds Paradise - July 27, 2011 - 12:55 PM

    LOVES IT!ReplyCancel

  • jilly-o - July 27, 2011 - 2:51 PM

    you can’t hide all your juicy tips for blogposts cause listen here lady, i don’t know how many times i complained to you about the shedding and all you’d say was “us too” and that was it!!! you’re in the doghouse. jk, fuck the dumb shit, right? hahaReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 27, 2011 - 4:26 PM

      Thank you, everyone! We agree, that piggie is over the top cute.

      And Jill, in all fairness, we didn’t know about the furminator or start using it until a few months ago! And when have you ever asked me about framing? I beat you to the punch on that one. Love ya!ReplyCancel

  • Jen - July 27, 2011 - 2:53 PM

    Hewwwwwwwwww!!!! The piglet looks great! Great choices on everything!ReplyCancel

  • gina - July 27, 2011 - 4:14 PM

    love this post and thanks for sharing you r way to do this…wayyyy easier than my way;)ReplyCancel

  • Ada @ New York - July 27, 2011 - 4:14 PM

    It looks great .. decorative gold frame against the wall design with the CUTEST piggie photo that I have every seen. I keep telling my hubby that one day we will have a farm with cute piggies running around – he laughs, I don’t :)ReplyCancel

  • Dave - July 27, 2011 - 4:37 PM

    Kimbo,
    Scott said your back end is cuter than the pig!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - July 27, 2011 - 4:41 PM

    I can’t argue with that.ReplyCancel

  • Miss B. - July 27, 2011 - 10:48 PM

    I have the same print! I am basically a Sharon Montrose stalker (ask her, lol). I am also framing challenged, this was very helpful, thanks guys.

    xx,

    Miss B.ReplyCancel

  • Elisa @ What the Vita - July 28, 2011 - 12:53 AM

    This is an awesome tutorial. I recently snagged several frames off CL and was wondering how I would hold it all together – staples! So clever, so simple. Thanks!!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - July 28, 2011 - 9:42 AM

    Miss B, awesome coincidence! If I could, I’d snap up every single print in her shop. It’s impossible to decide between all the cuteness.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - July 28, 2011 - 10:59 AM

    This has inspired me to finally frame my Sharon Montrose reindeer. I have soo many prints from various artists just sitting around waiting to be framed. I’ve used Frames by Mail before for some large custom framing because their prices are so reasonable, but for this one I decided to just order a mat through them and pop it into a cheap 16×20 frame I’ll pick up somewhere.ReplyCancel

  • jill - July 29, 2011 - 1:00 PM

    nah, i was only referencing the furminator. sorry for the confusion. however, i do need some frame help up in here. i’ve got a couple vintage lovelies with no glass or backing. so far, our family photo sits precariously in one on our mantle (a little double sided tape is doing the trick for now).ReplyCancel

  • Kyley and Ammo the Dachshund - December 6, 2011 - 8:08 PM

    Oh I have the same print from 20×200! (I also snagged the giraffe and lamb) – I love me some Sharon Montrose!

    Being a custom picture framer I’ve got the framing aspect covered. I framed my set in cute white vintage looking frames with grey mats. But I thought I’d mention that most custom framers (meaning small shops not the Big stores like michaels) will custom cut you mats while you wait to fit any frame you have. My shop being one of them :) – and I can’t speak for all of them, but ours probably are pretty comparable price wise to frames by mail (and are acid free), and then there’s the added benefit of not having to ship them.
    Just thought I’d throw that out there for any thrifty framers. :)

    P.S. I know one customer framer that would happily trade custom matting/framing for some happy little portraits of a little dachshund and some ponies. *wink* :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 6, 2011 - 9:22 PM

      Ooh, Kyley, thank you for the tips! And, uh, we may be in touch about a little trade! I know of a few empty frames around here that need some mats.ReplyCancel

  • Julie - December 17, 2011 - 7:11 AM

    Thank you for sharing this – have a few photographs I took and want to share for gifts during the year. (Love the pig!)ReplyCancel

  • Happy Weekend | Ellingsen Photography Blog - February 3, 2012 - 12:35 PM

    [...] wonderful tutorial on how the folks over at Yellow Brick Home frame using vintage frames they thrift. It never occurred to me you could get glass cut to [...]ReplyCancel

  • Brady - October 23, 2012 - 9:46 AM

    thanks! I was just starting to contemplate tackling framing and thought perhaps you guys had a post…woohoo!ReplyCancel

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