12 June 2010

how to save on framing

Custom framing is soooooooo expensive, but I have found a great way to get a custom framing look at a fraction of the price. DIY framing is fine some of the time, but for nice prints that you want to stand the test of time, DIY doesn't always do the job... sometimes the print will start to sag inside the frame, or sometimes the print will get faded by sunlight or air. Getting the custom look while saving moolah all starts at a store that offers both standard size frames and custom framing, preferably with a large selection. (The Aaron Brothers chain is a good place to start if you don't have a locally-run shop like this.)

Pre-step, before going to the store: Search the store's web site for coupons. (This can save a lot, even though you'll already be saving by going the semi-custom route.)

Step 1: Find a frame you like, preferably to fit the size of whatever you're framing. If your print isn't a standard size, see step 2. (Mark and I are both huge fans of having consistent frames throughout the house, so this is always easy for us, so long as the right size is in stock.)

Step 2: Decide if you want a matte or not. For standard size items, flip through the stock mattes they have available.

Always nice if the mattes are on sale

Mattes also give you a great option for cheating your way into a standard frame size if your posters or pictures aren't a standard size. Just have a matte cut custom for a standard size frame, but with a cut-out for your odd-sized item. (Custom mattes aren't much more pricey than stock mattes.) Whether you're going for a standard matte or a custom matte, make sure the print, matte and frame look good together.

Step 3: Approach the counter with your prints, frames (and mattes, if applicable), along with a friendly smile. Say, "I've like to have these prints mounted in these frames." Then here's the important part -- what you want to ask for to ensure a custom look. Ask for:
  • The print to be dry-mounted (this prevents future sagging)
  • The glass to be swapped out for UV glass (prevents fading) or museum glass (prevents fading and blocks glare, though it is pricier... my personal favorite)
  • The whole thing to be sealed and wired

Step 4: Hand over some dough, wait a day or two, and you'll have yourself some custom-looking framed prints, ready to hang for many years to come.

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