Ok, new collector. You've got sweet art, and you're jazzed out of your mind. Awesome! But you don't know how to frame it or where to put it? Yikes.
Framing can make or break the impact of that gorgeous piece you just bought, and you need to know how to display it for full impact! While I can't go to the frame shop with you, I can tell you a few ways to make sure that you're choosing the best frame for your piece, and hanging it in a way that will let it shine in all its full glory. Sound good? Read on, friend.
1. Go Pro or DIY?
First, you must decide: take your art to a framing shop or do the framing yourself. If you've got a VERY large piece, an impossibly weird-sized piece, or one that requires ultra specific and complicated details, take that thing to a pro. If not, I recommend DIYing it, and feeling like a total badass. It's really not as hard as it seems, once you know the basics.
Ok, assuming you're going to tackle this project yourself, let's get into it.
2. Choose Your Colors:
Black, white, or gold frames are almost always winning choices. Predominantly green pieces look particulary good in gold. Other colors can be fun, but it's best to get an expert opinion if you go that route, unless you're a color whiz. I frame most of my pieces in black or gold, or some combo of the two.
3. To Mat or Not to Mat?
That is the question! Pieces that are not on canvas tend to look great matted. Matting in black, white, or gray won’t complete with the work and will allow the piece to breathe and have its full impact. Choose a mat that is neither too thin nor too wide, so as to keep everything in balance. A double mat can make things look extra classy. When in doubt, get a mat.
4. Source Your Frame and Mat:
I like to look online for my materials: Amazon and Etsy are my go-to places. They tend to be cheaper online than anything you will find in stores. Just make sure that you're purchasing a high quality frame and an acid-free mat. I prefer wood frames because they are durable, beautiful, and you can add the hanging materials to the backs yourself, for the most secure hanging. Make sure to factor in the size of your mat when choosing a size!
I also recommend buying a frame that comes with real glass, as opposed to one with acrylic facing. Acrylic scratches easily, and just doesn't look quite as good, but if you're buying a very large frame, sometimes the cost difference makes it worthwhile. Your best bet is UV-treated glass, which will protect your work from light, keeping it vibrant for the long haul.
5. Add the Backing:
For hanging, I recommend using D-rings and wire. This will hold securely on the wall, even if the piece gets bumped, and it's easy to adjust. D-rings usually come in kits, with screws included. Again, I recommend buying them online. For most pieces, a light to medium weight wire will suffice. To apply them, you'll need a screwdriver, and wire clippers. All you have to do is screw the D-rings in about a third of the way down the frame, on either side of the art. Cut your wire, leaving extra to wrap around itself, and to have a bit of slack in it. About an inch or two on either side of the D-rings will suffice. Weave the wire through the D-rings, and wrap the wire around itself where it goes through the D-rings. Leave just enough slack in the wire so that when you tug on it, it almost reaches the top of the frame, with about a quarter to half inch of room above it. If this doesn't make any sense, watch a video or check out photos online. It's really very easy.
Next, using acid-free framing tape, seal the gap between the backing an the frame, so that dust doesn't get into the piece. This is a very important step, so please don't skip it! And you guessed it, I buy my framing tape online.
The location and height of the piece depends on a few things. First, keep all light-sensitive media out of sunlight! Watercolor pieces should not even be in indirect sunlight, and would do better in a hallway or in a room with few windows. Acrylic and oil pieces, as well as photographs, can stand up to indirect light.
Very large pieces look great positioned above a couch or other grouping of furniture. The work should hang low enough that it looks like part of the grouping, but not so low that it will get bumped. Smaller pieces look great clustered together or hanging in a hallway. Don't line pieces up with edges of tables or shelves. This looks weird as you-know-what. There are many gallery wall templates online if you need help choosing your layout. As a general rule of thumb, hang smaller pieces at an average eye-level. Most newbies make the mistake of hanging their art too high.
That's it! I hope you enjoy your lovely new artwork, and feel confident framing and hanging it. Let me know if you have any questions!