Doing the whole package

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Doing the whole package

Postby davidgaynor » Sat Aug 01, 2009 10:31 am

I'm not sure where I should be posting this query but thought this section to be the most suitable.

I've been thinking, for a while now, of transforming one of my bedrooms into a little factory where I can edit, mount and frame my pictures. I would welcome any advice that I can get with regard to mounting and framing.....is it something I can confidently expect to do a good job of ? Is it expensive to get started ? Is it worthwhile with regard to costs, given that I probably wouldn't be framing more than one or two prints a month ( with a view to selling them )? If it wouldn't be cost-effective, does anyone have any suggestions about pointing me in the direction of good framing companies that offer their services at a reasonable rate ? I know of e-Frame but have no knowledge of the quality of any framing company's work.

Kind regards,

David Gaynor.
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Re: Doing the whole package

Postby ksporry » Sat Aug 01, 2009 11:32 am

If 2 frames per month is your output, I'm not so sure about cost effectiveness. You will be redecorating a bedroom, buy framing and mounting tools, materials, etc

You need to calculate all this if you want to do it properly. List the costs for setting up your "production room". Get some quotes/guestimations for getting mounts/frames, and list the prices for materials and tools you will need.
You will most likely find that redecorating a bedroom into a production facility, plus tools, is really not that cheap. In addition, you may find that with you output, material costs will be relatively high since quantity is fairly small.

I found that making my own mounts just isn't worth it when Ikea lives in the same city. Sounds corny, but it's true! Though fairly expensive at 10GBP, I love their mounts for 50x70 frames (the mounts come with posters fitted), and I haven't been able to source the materials myself yet. However, standard mounting board is also not cheap at about 5-7 GBP for a 50x70 sheet from the local art shop. In addition, the Ikea ones are 2x as thick, and have a lovely colour and texture to them (in my opinion of course), plus they are pre-cut.
You may want to have a chat with a local gallery, or mounter/framer. You might be able to strike up a deal in exchange for regular guaranteed purchases over a period of time.

If you list that all up you can calculate how long it takes before your investments will pay off. You would need to take into consideration any growth of your business of course.
For this you would have to look back at how much you have sold over the past 2 - 5 years, and to what extend sales have grown since.
When you calculate in growth/expansion of your business, you may find that at some point it will become worth doing it all yourself, and on further expansion, it becomes more profitable to outsource again.
Don't forget that you also have to calculate in time for your work to mount and frame. Time is money so you definitely need to consider this.

In short:
Calculate the costs for outsourcing based on your short term predicted sales.
Calulate the costs for investments, plus costs for materials and time for your short term predictions.
Compare the two and estimate how long it would take before your investments will pay off.
Do the same for medium term sales, taking the same costs into consideration but assuming a growth in business.
Then decide if you think its worth it.
Also consider potential changes in your personal life (job changes, family expansion, relocation, etc), as they may heavily affect the availability of that spare room, or cash to make all those investments.
Good luck!
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Re: Doing the whole package

Postby davidgaynor » Sat Aug 01, 2009 1:17 pm

Thanks, KS, for the excellently detailed reply.
You've definitely given me food for thought. There's a lot to think about and I'll have to start doing my sums to see which avenue is more beneficial . I hadn't thought of cannibalising other mounts and frames but I like the idea of that - very pocket-friendly ( although archival kit might be hard to come by ).

Thanks again for putting together your reply.

Kind regards,
David Gaynor.
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Re: Doing the whole package

Postby bez » Sat Aug 01, 2009 2:17 pm

I would certainly suggest cutting your own mounts, but not to get involved in making frames as the equipment to do it properly is very expensive, large and heavy.
As ks suggests you may be able to strike a deal with a local framer, and one way to keep costs down even further is to buy lengths of your preferred moulding (eg. Arquadia or D&J Simons in London) and get the framer to make them up, with glass and backboard.
You’ll need a point gun, and the basic Tabmaster is cheap and works well (shoots both rigid and flexible points)

Ikea Ribba frames (in a variety of natural woods) are quite nice and well priced, but of course only come in a few sizes.

Back to mounting: 1500 micron archival mountboard bought in packs of 10 from the suppliers above work out at about £3 each.
For cutting mattes I would recommend (in ascending price) the Logan Team system (various lengths; just a straight edge with sliding bevel cutter), Longridge (bit more sophisticated), or if you really want to splash out, a KeenCut - I have the Artist Plus 1200, and very good it is too ...or you can spend £20k on an automated laser cutter 8)
Last edited by bez on Sat Aug 01, 2009 2:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Doing the whole package

Postby The Crofter » Sat Aug 01, 2009 2:34 pm

Cards on the table - I am a professional picture framer.

This subject crops up on a regular basis on other forums and at the end of the day it will be cheaper to either buy from a big box company such as Ikea or build up a relationship with your local picture framer. I have had to invest a lot of money in equipment and even more in stock/consumables to build up the business but can now offer a range of options to my customers. You can purchase low end picture framing equipment from the likes of Frameco etc but you will soon realise the limitations. You bedroom will fill with clatch at an alarming rate....

Given your projected output of a few frames a month then do not make them yourself. However if the business takes off then that is the time to think about moving into the framing business but you need a lot of room. By way of example, to purchase new Morso, Keencut Excalibur board/glass cutter and Keencut mountboard cutter you will be spending in the region of £4k. That is just the tip of the iceberg.

The other side of the coin is that I have people come to me to replace Ikea frames with bespoke versions. My moulding range is far greater and I size the frames according to the picture dimensions. Mountboard(s) and mouldings are chosen to suit the picture. I also generally frame to conservation standards with all materials in contact with the picture guaranteed not to cause acid damage in the years to come. Big box companies do not give you any of those options.
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Re: Doing the whole package

Postby bez » Sat Aug 01, 2009 2:50 pm

Another cautionary warning to add to Pat’s about Ikea frames - lookout for ugly grain anomalies, and examine the mitres carefully before buying; I reckon on a 50% rejection rate :roll:
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Re: Doing the whole package

Postby davidgaynor » Sat Aug 01, 2009 5:42 pm

Thanks to all for giving me so much good information.

Reading them has opened my eyes a bit .

I would love to do my own mounting and framing, but now I'm worried that if I do, I would probably be going in at the lower end of the assembly kit scale , which may mean lower-than-I-want quality.
I'll look at Ikea's frames - maybe I can put buffered material between wood and mount to minimise acid damage. Plus, I don't expect - as Bez has alluded to - the finish of Ikea frames to be top notch.

To The Crofter, do you deliver custom made frames and if so, do you have a ballpark price list ? If I get an outside agency to do the technical stuff, maybe it'll be a better idea. My God, I just can't make my mind up !

Regards,

David Gaynor.
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Re: Doing the whole package

Postby bez » Sat Aug 01, 2009 6:49 pm

Ikea frames are excellent value for the low price; you could discard everything except the wooden outer and glass, although probably unnecessary for everyday framing..
If you’re good with your hands you can make frames with minimal home equipment, but expect to spend several hours on each one, and you would probably be limited to plain wood mouldings, although these can be very nice when hand-finished with stain and wax etc.
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Re: Doing the whole package

Postby The Crofter » Sat Aug 01, 2009 8:03 pm

It is good that you are looking at the options so you can make an informed choice. I agree with Bez that the low end of the market is well served by Ikea and Co and you can always take the frame and add value to it by staining etc. However your style choices are limited. I am not sure what market you are aiming for so Ikea may be cost effective and good enough for the job. Lets say you use an A3 frame (I think Riba are around £10), add your own artwork and sell on for £25. Low overheads, little work and reasonable profit. If you are aiming higher then the frame quality becomes far more important and the buying public can spot the difference - honest !. There must be many framers in Manchester so just pop into a few with a print sample and get quotes for "bog standard" and "upmarket" frames. You will get differing opinions regarding materials but at the end of the day you will have more information to work from.

I don't sell my frames by post as I have had bad experiences with glass breakages in the past. Also by the time I have added postage and substantial packaging I doubt I would be competitive. The connection between frame and mount is ok for conservation framing but museum standard would probably involve completely isolating the layers either side of the artwork. If you do decide to cut your own mounts then it would be adviseable to use only conservation mountboard, slightly more expensive but will impress your customers if you demonstrate the ability to protect their work for the future.

On that subject then be aware that mountboard is generally sold as a minimum of 5 sheets. You will need a variety of colours & styles so there is a reasonable outlay to start the ball rolling. Your next problem is when someone wants a colour you don't keep. You may have to order 5 sheets which will blow your profit straight away. The biggest outlay of course will be a mountboard cutter. There are very good reasons that the majority of people in the trade use Keencut and Fletcher... However using the best comes at a price and even second hand machines will take ages to pay for themselves with a turnover of a couple a month.

Another suggestion, search for picture framing books on Amazon and read up on the subject before spending any money on equipment.
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Re: Doing the whole package

Postby ksporry » Mon Aug 03, 2009 12:53 pm

I agree with all the above.
Mounting could be done by yourself if you really want to. Personally I found I had a lot of wastage using standard mounting boards. And since there is only one art shop nearby (hobby craft), which charges a fortune, I dare not make them myself anymore. Plus You need goo dmounting equipment. If you have the money, you should be alright (lets face it, you do need good equipment to pull it off. I didn't, so... I didn't...).
I used ASDA for frames as well. At the time they had lovely curved wooden frames, that perfectly matched the 2:3 ratio of my 5D (effectively A4 prints), but nowadays they only do 3:4 frames, and the choice is not that great.
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Re: Doing the whole package

Postby davidgaynor » Mon Aug 03, 2009 7:11 pm

After weighing up what you fellas have said, I'm going to try to source a decent professional mounting provider, get my frames from a good retail store and maybe size the photos depending on the frames I can get my hands on.
If I can make a decent fist of it, then and only then will I consider trying to make my own stuff.

I'll have a look at art fairs and the like, with a view to finding a market for my pictures ( probably landscapes and other pretty stuff, if I want to appeal to the widest audience ) and I'll take it from there.

I saw a post here a while ago, asking where photo-i might be going. Well, for me, this is where it's at - expert info virtually on tap. Much appreciated.

Kind regards,

David Gaynor.
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Re: Doing the whole package

Postby jrhilton » Mon Aug 03, 2009 7:34 pm

davidgaynor wrote:After weighing up what you fellas have said, I'm going to try to source a decent professional mounting provider, get my frames from a good retail store and maybe size the photos depending on the frames I can get my hands on.


David I think that is sound thinking. If you size your prints to more traditional darkroom paper sizes like 10x6, 11x14 or 16x12, you tend to find you can get hold of a good range of frames and premade mounts at decent prices. I have noticed there is a premium if you want say a4, a3 or a3+ frames or something else a little less common.

These days I stick to 12x12 or 16x12 for the most part, with the odd print at 16x20 or 16x16 when demanded (not much though, as a 16x20 print when matted well takes a lot of wall space so people seem to want smaller most ofthe time, as not so many people live in homes with a lot of wall space these days etc). I don't go to too many fairs these days but the ones I have been to, 16x12 was a popular size with buying customers, which is good as it fits on a3+ paper, and still looks impressive.
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Re: Doing the whole package

Postby Kevgermany » Tue Aug 04, 2009 12:24 pm

Some good points made here. Just like to add that I started doing my own framing a few years ago. Well worth doing as a hobby, but not as a living unless you gett he turn over to cover the kit needed.

Cleanliness is essential. Nothing worse than dust getting in - or dirty dust marking a matte.

I buy the frames ready made from an art shop. One alternative for special needs is to go to a local art supply shop and get frames made from their mouldings - as Pat's doing for himself. However allow turn around time, especially if they don't construct the frames on the premises. I tried making frames myself, but without expensive kit, the time and effort involved in getting decent joints and square frames does not really pay. Don't even think of cutting the corners with a mitre saw, it's not accurate enough. I'm not keen on the Ikea frames - especially the bend over tabs at the back that always look as if they're goign to break off before you've finished framing. Haven't had one break, though, although I have cut myself on one.

Cutting mattes - I do this all the time. and also buy the mattes from a local art supply shop. (Acid free etc. ) Well worth doing as the kit isn't too expensive and, once you get the hang of it, it's not too much work. Need a reasonable cutter. Really allows you to save money and get the necessary control.

Assembly. Again, it's worth doing - but there's a knack in getting the prints flat - and staying flat over time.
Kev

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Re: Doing the whole package

Postby The Crofter » Tue Aug 04, 2009 6:01 pm

Just a quick word about fixing the artwork. Firstly masking tape has no business anywhere near the art so ensure you use tape like PH7-70 from Lion and other places. The artwork must be hinged at one point to ensure it can expand/contract independently of the surrounding boards. Hinge at two points if using mulberry paper and starch paste (unlikely to start with). The art can be hinged to either front mount or back. Many people argue about this but I generally hinge to the front. On an 8x10 portrait pic a single piece of tape around 2" long will suffice. Too much, or more than one piece will almost certainly lead to cockling - stresses in the paper. Ensure the artwork is kept in the same room as the mountboard for a few days if possible.

Also to finish off the frame you will need points and a gun, frame sealing tape (wet or self adhesive) and frame hanging hardware. I do not use cord and prefer a crimped wire system. Larger frames are fitted with hookup 100's from Lion which require two wall pins but are much better at spreading the weight of the frame.

In fact the best start you can make is to get a copy of the Lion catalogue. Full of stuff you did not know you needed :)
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Re: Doing the whole package

Postby Kevgermany » Wed Aug 05, 2009 7:50 am

Pat, what do you mean by back and front hinging? Is it the difference between taping the print to the matte and the backing board?
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