such a wide range of materials, techniques and approaches we can take
to presenting your art. To give you an idea here are a few
Custom Artwork Treatment
Reversible Fixing Methods
The work needs to be securely fixed in place whilst hiding all traces
of the methods used. It’s our preference to always use fully reversible
methods of fixing the artwork. A few examples of reversible fixing
you want to see the edges of the artwork? If so, museum tagging with
Japanese archival art paper lets you see the whole work, edges and all.
artwork could also be professionally stitched in cases where we’re
dealing with clothing and textiles. This gives a very impressive result
where the art can either be effortlessly floating, or fixed into a
We’ve used stitching before for items like textile art, wedding dresses, t-shirts, caps, banners etc.
This is particularly useful for ceramic pieces. Often a basic holding
structure is made (see below) and the piece is fixed in place with
special, non-acidic silicon to safely secure the art in place. This is
fully reversible and non-damaging.
the art is 3d and an unusual shape or particularly delicate, we’ll
often construct a special holding device to ensure the art doesn’t move.
We’ve done this before for wedding dresses which require extensive support structures to give the item full body when framed.
Another example is these ceramic dolls which had very delicate edges.
We used a combination of techniques to ensure that they would be safe
during transit and rehanging.
Permanent Fixing Methods
Sometimes it’s perfectly acceptable to use permanent fixing methods.
For example, if we’re printing an image for you it can always be
reprinted in the future. Here’s a selection of non-reversible fixing
methods for artwork you might consider:
Dry mounting is a process popular with large photographs and
sometimes posters. It involves using a special machine that heats the
art up and applies a vacuum. The art is placed onto a glue layer which
sits on a piece of mount board. The glue layer melts and the vacuum
creates a very smooth, professional appearance. Sometimes other methods
of affixing photographs can give a mottled texture of the backing board
that shows through into the photo. That’s not the case here.
Non Acidic Glue
We tend not to use this very often because they are usually better
alternatives (like lamination, below). It involves applying a special
glue to the reverse of the piece to affix it to a backing board.
We use a 1.4m laminator to process large works. The rollers apply
heat and pressure to the art. There are a lot a subtle techniques to be
used here, but they all boil down to either sticking the art down to a
backing board or applying a protective lamination film to the front of
Some examples of how this can be used are:
- Sticking a poster or print to foam core and applying a protective
lamination to the front. A frame can added to the outside for a very
cost effective method of displaying paper works. This is also very light
as it doesn’t require glazing.
- Fixing a commercial banner or office decoration to a sheet of DiBond
with a protective layer added on top. DiBond is a special polyurethane
core sandwiched between 2 layers of thin aluminium. This material is
notable because it’s heat and weather resistant. When finished the image
or art can be displayed indoors or outdoors.
Picture Frame Mount
Mount board can be of several qualities, and used in a few different
ways. All our mount board is conservation standard to protect your
artwork. There are a selection of colours and qualities in the material
depending on what look you’re going for. 100% cotton rag paper can be
used for a clean, high end museum visual.
Mount board can be used to tag the art to if you want to see the edges of your piece.
we can do an “over mount”, which is where a window is cut into a piece
of mount board using our professional Gunnar mount cutter.
The final option is what’s called a close mount. This is where the art go right up to the inside edge of the frame.
In the first two cases, mount is used to create a visual break from
the frame and the art. This negative space enhances the art and allows
it to breath.
Frame profiles can be grouped in to 3 sections.
In addition to frame profiles available from moulding stockists, (as
you’ll see for 90% of picture frames in the UK) we can create our own
mouldings from woods such as Tulipwood, Beech, American black walnut,
hard maple, oak and ash.
All of the wood we use is sourced from sustainable forests, where at least one new tree is planted for every one removed.
is the majority of what we work with because it allows so much
flexibility. Together we choose a wood then apply a finish to complement
The range of finishes available can enhance subtle aspects of the
wood grain, depth of colour or shape of the profile. See the Finish
section for ideas in this area.
Off The Shelf Mouldings
Also referred to as off-the-rack, these profiles have a wood core and are finished in a wide range of effects.
They’re more budget friendly than hand-finished profiles but are not as flexible in what finishes you can apply.
Often used to achieve a very thin looking frame where a wooden profile would not be strong enough.
Available in a selection of (usually solid) colours. A new finish has
recently been developed however that uses a real wood veneer on top of
the aluminium profile. The effect is very pleasing and can be used as a
“wood” frame in many situations.
Custom Picture Frames Finishes
This is what can take an average frame into a thing of beauty. It can
help accent particular colours or features in the art to create a more
Below are some of the techniques we use. Some can be combined in interesting ways for more subtle effects.
We use a specialist spray booth to apply atomised paint to your frame
in several layers. The process involves sequential steps of sanding and
new paint coats, starting with an undercoat.
effect is a modern gallery look with closed-corner frames. For most
frames you can see where the sections of moulding come together in the
corners. Sprayed frames give a clean, understated look that works
particularly well for box frames or float mounted art.
We can customize the colour used in the spraying process as well as
the sheen used in the lacquer. The lacquer is a final spraying process
added for extra protection to the paint and you can choose the “sheen”
level used. A higher sheen gives a glossier look and provides more
protection against bumps and scratches.
A 5-10% sheen is often used to give protection whilst maintaining a matte appearance.
is the process of applying metal leaf to a profile. The metal can be
gold, silver, platinum or aluminium. This is a time intensive and
specialist process but the result is spectacular.
The whole profile doesn’t have to be gilded. Often clients request
partial gilding. This can either be in the form of a highlight strip on a
particular area of the profile, or as a rub through effect.
The rub through effect is where gold leaf is applied then slightly
rubbed away to give a dynamic aged patina. This can give a touch of
warmth to help accentuate aspects of the art and bring the piece
Due to the increased cost of the materials and time required in
gilding, a cost effective alternative is using either gold or silver
gilding cream to achieve an effect close to that of genuine leaf at a
fraction of the cost.
used with raw woods to give depth and customize the colour to the art.
Different woods take stains in surprisingly different ways. Some woods
accentuate the grain because that area of the wood soaks up more stain
than the other areas.
Depending on the wood, some stains are sprayed on in out spray booth and others are applied by hand.
We also sometimes apply several different stains to achieve an interesting glow through effect.
painting gives a well-known effect that can really set off some styles
of frame. It can be used to achieve a traditional or rustic look that
sprayed frames can’t.
Due to the use of a brush other multi layers effects can be used such
as combining brush types and sizes or using a stippling effect.
wax can be used on bare woods to give a professional finish and a touch
of warmth. It enhances the colour of the wood and gives a layer of
Gesso is a traditional material that has a certain romance surrounding it.
The material itself is a special mixture containing glue made from
rabbit skin. This is created as a by-product of the food industry.
The particular ingredients and their proportions used are often
closely guarded as industry secrets, as slight changes in the
composition yield very different finishes.
The mixture is either painted or sprayed onto the frame, depending on
what level of finish you’re going for. Spraying is required for totally
flawless finish, and hand painting for a more traditional look. The
traditional look is often preferred with gesso.
The effect is a hard, almost ceramic like effect that will now take a range of paints, stains and finishes very well.
your work has depth to like an oil painting or 3d object, we’ll often
use glass spacers. Of course this only applies if you’re having the
Glass spacers are essential to keep the work from contacting the
glass. The spacers can be finished in the same variety options as the
main profile, but are often left a neutral colour.
Custom Frame Slips
slips are essential small frames that sit just inside the main frame.
They give either embellishment or contract to both the frame and the
There are a sometimes ranges of frame slips that are created to
compliment off the shelf mouldings but we can also create our own to
match any style you like.
The depth of the main profile needs to be considered when using a
slip, as the frame may need more overall room to account for the slip.
There are 3 main groups of glazing to choose from, each with several quality variants.
Size & Features
For glass and acrylic there are several common considerations to consider. They are thickness and type of glazing.
The thinnest glazing we use is 2mm and the thickest is 6mm. The
reason for using a particular thickness is a combination of what types
of glazing is available in what sizes, but mainly the size of your art.
If we’re framing a large piece of work we’ll need to use a thicker
glazing to ensure it stays stable.
To gloss over all the sub varieties, glass and acrylic are available in 3 main types. Standard, anti-reflective and museum.
Each brand comes with its own list of features and we’ll be happy to
help you select one that matches the features you need. We can also
advice about the subtle characteristics of each glazing type. For
example each of the high end glazing’s have their own slight colour hue
inherent in the manufacturing process required to achieve the various
Some the features available are:
70-98% UV protection
small frames we tend to use 2 or 3mm “float glass” which is the
standard glass used in the framing industry. It’s very budget friendly
but does contain a lot of iron giving it a slight green hue. It also
causes a lot of reflections if a bright light source is opposite the
frame. Finally it provides around 50% UV protection simply because there
is an additional layer of material between the art and sun which
refracts some of light.
There are several more visually appealing options to enhance your art
when it comes to glass. Simply going with a basic anti reflective glass
makes a world of difference to a frame. Anti-reflective glass is also
much more cost effective than a similar product in acrylic because of
the manufacturing procedures involved.
Glass is not used on very large frames. The larger the frame, the
thicker the glass would need to be, and you’d end up with spectacularly
heavy frames with glass.
Finally, glass is not used when shipping a frame any distance. The
glass has too high a chance of breaking in transit and damaging the art.
Also couriers do not like dealing with or insuring frames using glass.
Acrylic has several differences from glass, and this affects the situations you’ll want to use acrylic in.
The obvious one is that acrylic is naturally shatter resistant. If it
gets knocked in transit or whilst being displayed it won’t break.
A related consideration is the thickness issue mentioned above. We
need to ensure that a thick enough glazing is used for the size of art.
With glass, if we didn’t, it can shatter. But with acrylic it can cause a
wobble or warping effect. Whilst this doesn’t damage the art in any
way, it’s undesirable as it reflects the light differently and can be a
Another consideration is price. In general, acrylic glazing is more
expensive than glass, comparing like for like. The difference isn’t much
for standard acrylic vs standard glass. The real increase comes when we
start using Opium acrylic. This is the top-of-the-line, anti-scratch,
anti-reflection, full UV protection product that top museums use to
protect valuable pieces of art.
For the very best acrylic is can be thousands of pounds for a single
sheet, so it’s something you’ll go for only if you want the best.
Whilst already mentioned above, we classify lamination as a type of
glazing as it protects the artwork and has direct contact with the
It can be a cost effective method for some types of poster based art.
The visual cost is a slight dampening of the colour strength however.
This dampening is something that could be mitigated with high quality
glass or acrylic, but not with lamination.
Backing For Custom Frames
boards are used to protect the back of your art and create a dust seal
from the elements. We primarily use an acid free, special framing
backing board. It’s similar to MDF but is easier to work with and
doesn’t contain formaldehyde like normal MDF.
The formaldehyde in MDF isn’t going to damage humans, but the acids
in the board can leak out and damage your artwork, causing stains, loss
of colour and foxing. So of course we never use this.
Features / Character items
If you have items related to your artwork which add to the provenance
or character these can be attached to the back for provenance. For
example, we can attach certificates of authenticity, notes from the
artist or other comments to the back.
Taking this one step further, a very nice touch is to create a
viewing window in the back of the frame. Exactly what this involves
depends on the type of frame and its construction. However the basic
premise is an acrylic window built into the back of the frame to allow
you to view the back of the artwork.
This is particularly effective for pieces that have essential
information on the reverse. Ceramic items, certain paintings or clothing
can have signatures of valuable information on the back, and being able
to view this really adds to the quality of the frame.
A sub frame is a re-enforcing beam built into the back of a frame.
They’re useful for 3 reasons.
- They provide extra support for medium to large frames. In many cases a sub frame is essential for oversized work.
- The shape of the sub frame facilitates easy hanging with a split batten. More on this hanging method is mentioned below.
- It creates a much more complete, solid and perfect product. We tend
to be perfectionist about the products we craft, and it’s pleasing to
create things that reflect our values.
This is our preferred method of hanging artwork.
You’ll need to attach a special shape hanging beam to your wall, which we can do if installing for you.
When done, the opposite shape beam on the frame slides into place,
ensuring a perfectly hang that will never come off the wall. It’s easy
to lift the frame off for rehanging elsewhere as well.
Strings and wires are hung from pins or nails that can come loose.
The frames also require perfect positing to ensure a horizontal hang.
(However a tip if you have to use this method is always use 2 pins/nails
to hang from. It gives a safe guard against one coming loose and makes
it much easier to achieve a straight hang).
When Should You Use a Custom Picture Frame?
- You require exacting control over the visual details.
- The work requires special attention in its framing. For example if there are special size, preservation or weight requirements.
- You’re looking for really special item that will last for years and attract comments from viewers.