Framing advise requested

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Framing advise requested

Postby Sigma » Mon Jul 26, 2010 11:07 am

I'm currently going through the exercise of framing a panorama and have already glued up the 1017 x 429mm teak and gold leaf frame. I have a number of options but would apreciate advice from you all.

1. The back of the frame: I'm assuming something like hardboard, which is simple to get from my local DIY shop. But I've also seen Kraftboard advertised for the same job, its easier to cut, presumably cheaper but probably not as easy to source or as strong.

2. mat board: Really a colour question. I'm used to cutting my own mats but I have always struggled to decide what colour I need. Some colours seem to swallow the print, while others are so bland they actually work against the image. Somewhere there should be a successful partnership.

3. Glass or Acrylic: Glass is probably easier to source locally, acrylic seems to be the material of choice for lower end frames and mail order. Its easy to cut, but with glass I'd not be cutting it myself anyway.

4. Last but not least, an internal mountboard on which to mount the actual print: In the past I've always had bits of spare mat board kicking about, but is this the best practise.

Any knowledge would be most gratefully "absorbed". I have done this before, but not this size and want to do the job reasonably professionally.
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Re: Framing advise requested

Postby The Crofter » Mon Jul 26, 2010 1:13 pm

Get the frame and print to your local picture framer. By the time you have faffed around getting all the components together you will have wasted a lot of time, energy and money. Your framer will be able to run through a range of mountboard colours, styles and options to suit your picture.

At sometime in the future a glued frame will probably fail so it is vital that it is reinforced with wedges (underpinned). If you do not use this technique please ask your framer to add some - especially if you use glass. I do not use acrylic except for public areas where safety is important.

The frame is fairly large so my preference would be to use two hangers and not wire.

If you back with hardboard or mdf (not recommended) then use a barrier between the board and artwork. To reduce weight I use Art-Bak conservation. Any mountboard should ideally be to conservation standard and that applies to hinging tape etc. This is important if you intend selling the picture. If you use the classic hinged sandwich method then a piece of conservation board behind the picture will be the best option.

I rarely use vibrant colours for mountboard and "bland" or muted colours are often the best option. A lot depends on the picture but my most common colours are on textured board: Sandstone, Snow white, Antique white, Sand and Barley. You can add a lot of interest to a plain white mount by using a double or triple mount. Also try a double mount with the inner (5mm) picking up on the dominant picture colour.

In my opinion the process of chosing mount colours comes with practice and you develop an "eye". However the biggest challenge is getting all three components to work together and the choice of frame and mount should be made together to suit the picture. Getting the colours, styles and proportions correct will make a picture look far better than it is - trust me I have framed a lot of carp in my time !.
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Re: Framing advise requested

Postby Sigma » Mon Jul 26, 2010 7:05 pm

Pat,

Many thanks for sharing your hard won knowledge with me. I've glued the frame with epoxy, the same stuff I have used for boatbuilding. I assume that if it holds racing dinghies together without screws and nails it should manage a simple picture frame.

I've costed up custom made frames in the past and local framers have wanted silly money, which is why I'm doing this one myself. That being said, I'm a perfectionist with things like this and it must be done properly for my own sanity. I'm not bothered about the archival qualities as it's only for us at home and I can easily reprint the thing if it starts to suffer. If I had a client wanting this I'd be whipping it down to the local professional framer quicker than you could blink!

I've not hear of the Art-Bak you mention. My local artists supplies shop has offered some "brown board", price and quality unknown, which appears to be around 2 or 3 mm thick. It is stiffer than normal mountboard and looks literally like thick brown card. I have seen thin polystyrene sheet used and have seen self adhesive sheets for sale, is that more like the Art-Bak?
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Re: Framing advise requested

Postby lnbolch » Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:41 pm

Sigma wrote:I've costed up custom made frames in the past and local framers have wanted silly money, which is why I'm doing this one myself. That being said, I'm a perfectionist with things like this and it must be done properly for my own sanity. I'm not bothered about the archival qualities as it's only for us at home and I can easily reprint the thing if it starts to suffer. If I had a client wanting this I'd be whipping it down to the local professional framer quicker than you could blink!


The reason that they want all that silly money is the years they have put into working to acquire the skills of their craft, to do a top quality job every time. If in truth you are the perfectionist that you claim, expect your first hundred or so framing jobs to be far more expensive than letting a highly-skilled craftsman to it. Perfection in framing, as with anything else requiring a high degree of skill comes at a substantial cost in learning. I suspect your "perfectionism" will become subject to a reality check, and "good enough" will outvote "perfection" in the end.

I see this attitude constantly among beginning photographers. "Why should I hire an expensive wedding photographer for my daughter. I'll just pick up a Pentax and do the job right. They do everything for you, so how could I fail." A year later, "Why won't my daughter talk to me? She has had a year to cool down. I would really love to meet my grandson, but she won't let me in the house."
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Re: Framing advise requested

Postby bez » Mon Jul 26, 2010 9:11 pm

As you say ordinary brown kraftboard is cheaper, thinner and softer (easier to cut) than traditional hardboard. Art-Bak is similar to kraft but more archival, and has an inbuilt curve to help keep things sandwiched together.
I always use plain off-white archival mountcard for the matte (and backing if necessary) but never colours. I find the popular tendency to use a ‘matching’ or complementary colour will usually overpower and kill the natural colours in the picture.
Glass is by far the best, but breakable of course. Never the horrible textured anti-reflective stuff, although the proper coated museum glass is excellent, but very expensive.

For long panoramas I brace the frame across the middle to stop the long sides bending, unless it’s a really wide moulding. As Pat says two saw-tooth hangers, or D rings on either end is a good way to hang.

If you’re desperate to keep it really flat you can mount the photo on water-based sticky board (not solvent) but this is not good archival practice, even though the worst that may happen is it becomes detached after some years.
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Re: Framing advise requested

Postby The Crofter » Mon Jul 26, 2010 11:15 pm

Sigma wrote:I've glued the frame with epoxy, the same stuff I have used for boatbuilding. I assume that if it holds racing dinghies together without screws and nails it should manage a simple picture frame.


I am not going to argue but if this was the case then pro picture framers would just use epoxy and not bother with expensive underpinning equipment - but they don't. At the very least get a simple Pushmaster from Frameco or similar and start using v-nails in all your frames.

Art-Bak can be obtained from Lion but unless you live near Birmingham you will have to purchase a pack quantity of 20 sheets, excessive for your current needs unless you do a lot of framing. As Bez mentioned Art-Bak is concave which applies pressure over the whole mountboard surface when pinned to the rebate. This is a blessing on large frames as it removes gaps in the glass/mount/picture/backing sandwich. It also provides pressure/friction to the art keeping it flat against the mount and reducing the weight on the hinge. Art-Bak conservation has a white barrier layer on the inside so it is possible to use a single mount with the art hinged to the mount and then placed directly onto the Art-Bak. The backing then takes the place of the normal hinged mountboard. This is ok for low cost items.
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Re: Framing advise requested

Postby bez » Tue Jul 27, 2010 12:36 am

I've always assumed pros use an underpinner mainly for speed, although the benefits of a mechanical fixing are obvious - some good framers use glue as well. Hard woods like ash & oak etc can be difficult to underpin, and I've seen the mitres gaping at the front when carelessly made - an old method of two long panel pins driven in each way at 90 degrees, countersunk and filled works kinda ok ...
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Re: Framing advise requested

Postby The Crofter » Tue Jul 27, 2010 9:02 am

Frames should always be glued and underpinned for several reasons.

Just using glue provides no initial strength to the mitres and the frame must be clamped until dry. Even then there is the possibliity that mitres may slide and become misaligned. If this is not noticed the frame ends up in the bin. The process of underpinning ensures that the mitre is correctly aligned and held in place whilst the wedges are inserted. The wedges are essentially springs designed to pull the joint together and provide mechanical stability while the glue dries. During this period the rest of the components can be added and the frame completed, difficult when just using glue and a band clamp due to the risk of movement.

Ultimately the combination of glue & underpinning provides a belt and braces approach and the frame will stay intact for a very long time. I regularly underpin oak & ash, special wedges are provided for hard wood, and have no problems. However I am using good quality equipment which makes life easier.
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Re: Framing advise requested

Postby Sigma » Tue Jul 27, 2010 7:53 pm

Thanks to everyone for the advise. Theres a lot to absorb and theres no rush so I am happy to take this slowly, to reread everything and make plans accordingly.

I had already glued the frame together before I posted the question, I did glue each mitre joint seperately and made a jig to hold each in place while the glue cured and the finished frame looks fine even if it had taken me a week to do! Its the accepted wisdom in small boatbuilding that mechanical fixings always fail and can reduce the glued area thus weakening the joint. We will see.
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Re: Framing advise requested

Postby The Crofter » Tue Jul 27, 2010 10:12 pm

But you are not building a boat...

It is accepted wisdom in the framing industry that mitres should be glued and wedged. The Fine Art Trade Guild (FATG) classify 5 standards of picture framing and even at the lowest level they state that mitres are "Accurately cut, glued and pinned tightly". In this case it is inappropriate to dismiss the construction techniques for framing just because of your experience in another environment albeit using similar materials.

I would have also thought that your quest for perfection would be achieved by not only producing a very good frame but also using the correct methods to construct it. Sorry - end of lecture :)

Incidently can you post a picture of the completed work.

Also I now use this type of hanger (Hook-Ups) for large frames. The advantage is that once fitted the frame can be levelled by adjusting the knurled nuts. This gives some leeway when drilling wall holes - difficult to get level first time using two fixings.

hookups.jpg
hookups.jpg (22.75 KiB) Viewed 2245 times
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Re: Framing advise requested

Postby Sigma » Wed Jul 28, 2010 7:00 pm

Pat,

When I've finished it I'll take a snap, but don't hold your breathe, at the moment I'm a very long way from completion and as I've said already I take things painfully slowly to make sure its done as accurately as possible. We also have a two day photo trip to the Seven Sisters Country Park this week which is not going to speed things up.

Your supports sound an excellent idea. I prefer the idea of supports attached to the vertical sides and thus spreading the load around the structure, to all the strain being taken on the top because wood is poor at dealing with bending forces. From your picture I imagine the load would also be vertical, with no wire pulling at an angle? Even better if thats the case.And no more weekly trip around the house straightening all the frames!

I've been discussing the mount colour with my wife based on all the feedback and the compromise is a pale grey (The image is of South Dorset, Chesil Beach and the Fleet, so a mixture of reds, browns, greens and blues). I propose to leave a small white border of around 5mm around the image which I hope will help project the image.

Sorry, I'm unrepentant about the joint construction. The stresses and strains on a racing dinghy are far more than a picture frame will ever have to withstand although they are generally designed to spread any point loading into the structure as much as possible.
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Re: Framing advise requested

Postby jrhilton » Sat Jul 31, 2010 3:25 pm

If I make my own frame (not often) I use a through mortise and tenon joint at each corner as I like the look and it is nice and strong. This works best with hardwood that is around 2" x 0.75" I feel. A router table and/or table saw is a must though.
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Re: Framing advise requested

Postby Sigma » Tue Aug 03, 2010 4:03 pm

Heres the finished product, It measures 42" by 19". I've sealed the back seams with brown paper parcel tape in an attempt to keep tiny little black insects out. Probably a forlorn hope, because they regularly get into my computer monitor and crawl around while I'm post processing!

http://rcb4344.zenfolio.com/p908176029/e91d6e54
Last edited by Sigma on Tue Aug 03, 2010 7:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Framing advise requested

Postby bez » Tue Aug 03, 2010 4:54 pm

very smart 8) - perhaps you should see an optician about these little black insects .. :roll:
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Re: Framing advise requested

Postby The Crofter » Tue Aug 03, 2010 6:22 pm

Nice picture.

However... your mountboard appears to be cut unevenly and the top left is badly hooked. I presume you do not use a mat cutter.

PS Parcel tape will dry out and let the thrips in !. Worth investing in a roll of backing tape to ensure a good seal for many years.
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