Picture Framing
Mat Cutter
Glass Choices: Reflection control, clear, museum,...?
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1. Why are we framing pictures:
- it is easier to hang them on the wall,
- framing makes them more presentable and they can complement and enhance the
beauty of the picture like nothing else,
- for protection against damage:
- light
- dust
- humidity and heat
2. Some advice for painters on how to get the picture ready for the framing
- sign the painting away from the edge - so that it does not look crammed or even
get covered
- paint more than one painting of the same subject - people like groupings
- use paints that are light fastened
If you plan on matting (watercolor, photos, etc.)
- leave a border or enough empty space around the image that you do not have
to cover more than 1/8" of the image.
3. Considerations on framing art work:
- cost
- what fits
- what style do we want
- technique for mounting the artwork (sometimes called "hinging")
- materials:
- it is important that materials are acid free and mats also lignin free!!! I have seen a lot of damage caused by regular
mats and corrugated cardboard as the backing
- if you use glass: glass should not touch the artwork due to chemicals in it; especially photos; I've seen photos adhere to
the glass and when we tried to remove them the top layer stayed exactly where it was
- if you decide to have it framed by a professional than you want to chose a professional that does conservation framing
- and if you are a painter: who is going to have or buy it.
4. When you start the process of framing
your first task will be a choice of mat-s:
a. Color:
- one theory states: we decide which
color was used the least in the image and
match the color of the mat with it. My
experience is that usually causes a
distraction unless there is a specific thing
that you want to bring out.
- my theory: we try to find mats that blend
well with the frame and picture, which
enhances the painting and does not
distract from it.
Advice for painters: paintings that will be
entered into a competition where white
mats are required: try an off-white mat
that matches the white in your painting.
For "do-it-yourselfers":

When you have all the mats that you want
you will have to cut them. For this you
will need a mat cutter. There are lots of
different types. I use the one in the
photos. It took me quite a few months to
get a straight cut out of it. A sharp blade
is essential. If you have never cut mats
before than I would recommend a class -
you will save a lot of hours trying and a
lot of money in matting materials…
After your mats are cut you have to attach
the artwork to the mats. I use acid free
framers tape.
5. Than you will have to choose the

There are millions of choices. You will
have to decide what material, style and
color you want. If you know where your
picture is going to hang than choose
something that matches that interior. If
you do not know where it is going than go
ahead and select a frame that matches
the style of your artwork.
Make sure the frame is deep enough to allow for all the mats, glass, artwork and
Determining the size of the frame:
- size of the image plus the width of the mat (both sides). Example: If the width of
the image measures 10 inches and you determine that the width of the mat is 3
inches per side, than the inside width of the frame equals 16 inches. We order our
frames precut and assemble them. That way we have a larger selection, although
my boss has made them himself if there is a special need or request.
6. Glass choices: reflection control (non-glare) or clear or something

Non-glare glass sometimes takes away some detail - solution: fewer
mats so that the glass is closer to the image.

Premium clear - regular glass: effectively blocks only 45 % of the
dangerous UV light, reflects around 8 % of the light and its light
transmission is 90%
Conservation clear (conservation framing) effectively blocks a
minimum of 98% of the dangerous UV light, reflects around 4.6% of
the light (how much light is "bounced back" causing glare) and its
light transmission is 93% (how much light reaches the art work,
allowing it to be seen)
Reflection control (non-glare) effectively blocks only 45 % of the
dangerous UV light, reflects around 8 % of the light and its light
transmission is 90%
d. The best glass is
museum glass - clear: effectively blocks a
minimum of 98% of the dangerous UV light, reflects only 1 % of the
light and its light transmission is 96% so basically you can not see it.

If you cut the glass yourself you will need a good glass cutter but any
glass selling store will be happy to do it for you.
7. Backing: foam core - different thickness - protects
against dust - offers stronger support. It does not
touch the picture directly so it does not necessarily
have to be acid-free (although I would recommend

Order of assembly:
- first the glass,
- than mats with artwork and
- finally the backing.

Frame points are driven into the frame to hold the
backing in place.
Than a double-stick acid free-tape is applied to the
back edges of the frame and a paper cover is
applied. Hangers are attached and you are done.
Make sure you have a strong hanger system -
especially for bigger paintings.
- often people want to match the colors of their interiors but pick an artwork that has
non of those colors and than try to save it by adjusting the mat colors to the interior
which most of the time makes artwork look like crap.
A solution if necessary: choose a bottom
mat that matches the painting - remember,
we can choose more than one mat.

b. The width of the mat:
I would recommend that you do not go
under an inch and the only other rule is
that the mat should not be the same width
as the frame. The rest of it depends on
your taste and current fashion.
Regular glass
Museum glass