Mouldings: The single most expensive element in custom framing is the frame moulding. Cost depends on style, material, size, and manufacturing technique. It’s best to choose a framer with a large selection of quality frames to suit your needs. There are hundreds of moulding suppliers who have different manufacturers all over the world. A good frame shop has a variety of frames and styles to accommodate any decor and can make recommendations to help fit your budget if necessary.
Tip: Watch out for frames made of plastic foam or compressed particle wood and covered with a vinyl surface. While relatively inexpensive, they are not crafted the same way as wood mouldings and do not hold up over time.
Matting: Mats are available in hundreds of colors, textures, and materials. Textures include imprinted designs, linen, silk, suede and grass cloth, all to enhance the look of your artwork. While mats are an important design element in custom framing, their main purpose is to keep the glass from touching your artwork, which is critical to preservation. Matting is traditionally used for flat prints, drawings, watercolors, photos, and basically any works on paper.
Tip: For the best protection of your artwork, be sure your framer uses “acid free” museum quality mats. They are made from cotton rag fiber, not wood or cellulose “paper mats”. The wood fiber in paper mats is acidic and the acid in fiber will leech out into your artwork over time, yellowing it and causing serious damage.
Glass: With the great advancement in modern glass making techniques there are many options for covering or “glazing” your art(oils, acrylics, and other works on canvas should not be framed under glass).
Plain glass is usually fine for inexpensive poster prints and will filter about 45% of the ultraviolet(UV) light that can damage artwork. Conservation or UV filtering glass should be used for any quality artwork and a good framer will recommend it for every job. UV filtering glass blocks out 95 – 99% of the harmful light and will keep your artwork preserved. Both plain and conservation glass are available in a non-glare variety that eliminates the reflection.
Non-glare glass does dull the image slightly, and the dulling effect increases the farther away from the artwork the glass sits. The ultimate in glazing options is museum glass. Museum glass is crystal clear and disappears when looking directly at you artwork, it has minimum reflection and maximum UV filtration. Museum is especially effective on a shadowbox because of the depth and gives the impression that you can reach into the frame and tough the object.
Plexiglass should be considered for oversized artwork where weight becomes an issue, or artwork that has to travel frequently for exhibition. It is also a better option when framing without matting, the plexiglass can come into direct contact with your artwork while not conducting moisture. Museums use a high grade plexi when framing to protect their collections. Plexiglass is available in the same options as regular glass, including museum quality.
Tip: The price difference between UV clear and plain clear glass is minimal, and a good value regardless of what you are framing.