I am always looking for new ways to help communicate to clients the process for selecting the correct design for that special piece.

I’ve learned through experience that I am more than a framer — I am an educator as well. A framer has the job of not only designing a project, but informing the customer on the latest trends and techniques associated with it. My sidekick Jane and I are always reading up on just how to do that.

The face of custom framing changes constantly; after all, you can put anything on your wall. But, in order for the artwork to remain timeless, certain criteria applies to every piece brought into the store.

Golden ratio Image for blog 1

The biggest problem framers have, I believe, is trying to convey proportion. When a client is at the counter designing, the further you push that frame sample out from the image, the more uncomfortable they get. The perception, I have found over the years, is that the bigger the piece, the bigger the price tag.

It’s not necessarily so.

Good framers already have a design in mind. We then listen to your concerns and then we find a way to make your project cost productive.

We also have to keep in mind the misconception that the larger the frame, the bigger the piece will be, or that the frame may “overpower” the art


In Greg Perkins’ book,
Guidelines For Great Frame Design, he addresses a wonderful perspective that I thought I would share with you. This is only o, or even the room.

n frame selection (mat proportion is something I’ll blog about later) and is in direct relationship to the art itself. But what I really enjoyed was the way he put this part of the process into the overall experience of frame selection. The book is a mainstay on our counter to help people understand how important the correct frame really is.

Guidelines to selecting a moulding

Relate it to the subject of the art

I always tell people I look for design elements in the piece to help convey the story. I think a nature scene should have a wood frame; a gold embellished Buddha should have a gilded frame; and a children’s drawing should have a primary colored frame.

Consider the age, or era of the art

In this time of “anything goes” in home décor, I tell my customers that if you frame the yellow sunflower correctly, it will work in the purple room. A formal Dutch painting should not have a metal frame, and a black-and-white photo should not have an orange frame. (OR BLACK! But don’t get me started!) Correctly framing your works makes them stand the test of time, and in turn, become timeless.

Take in mind the “mood” of the art

I have a lot of fun with this. People come in and say,

“I’d like to ‘lighten’ this piece,” and it’s a dark snowstorm at night with a figure behind the lamp post. And they tell me they want to put it into their sun room! The personality of the art should match the framing you decide, and it works the other way around.

Avoid sharp contrast in the frame, and consider the contrast in the artwork

The darkness in the frame can make that picture “stand out” and distract from the artwork – making you notice the frame more that the art. In turn, correct matting of your artwork can enhance its vibrancy. The two design factors

play upon themselves – it’s a balance of these design parts that bring your artwork to its greatest possibility.

Enhance the artwork, but keep in mind the room décor

To begin the design process, I always ask my clients if they have anything in mind. This gives me the moment to listen to their design ideas, and get a feel for what they are looking for. Then – and every one of you that have been into my store knows this – I always say the following: “I’m not going to show you anything that does not work; I’m going to show you an idea that I think works best.” What I’m saying is I’m going to work for the piece, and you are going to communicate to me and tell me what you think. Now, if the person is surprised by my idea, then there was a 100 percent chance they had something else in mind. (I have fun with this, too!) I don’t live in your home; the only witness I have to it is the artwork presented in front of me.

All in all, Perkins says something that really hits home: A good neutral frame design that enhances the piece is easier to move around, or put into a new home. It’s not an idea on size, or an idea on cost. It’s an idea for good picture framing design.

So come on in! Yes, you can bring your sofa sleeve and your paint chip. While you’re enjoying the design ideas, you can look through Greg’s book that will fill you with even more possibilities
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