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Framing Paintings: Should You Do It Yourself?

Should you frame own paintings or get a professional framer to do it?


Framing paintings can be very expensive. So, is a professional frame worth the money, or should you make your own frames for your paintings? Will galleries accept paintings with DIY frames? Will you appear to be a cheapskate? Here are some thoughts on framing from a discussion on the Painting Forum:

Success Stories with DIY Frames
“I had the tools (compound mitre saw and a router) so I gave it a shot. I was very pleased with the outcome. I used 1"x2" pine for materials . I painted the finished frame with satin black and it looked very good.” -- Brian

“My husband makes my frames. He buys a nice piece of lumber (1x4 or 1x8, something like that) then rips off slender pieces which he miters at the corners so they all fit and adds them to my canvases. I think they look very nice, plain, unpainted with just a touch of varnish. When I have canvas board to frame, he does it different, putting in a gouge on one side so the board can lay in it. The nice thing is I can show him what width or kind of frame I want and he makes it for me.
My customers know that I'm a starving artist, not a rich artist, and I think the frames my DH makes me add to the charm of my pieces and they also make me feel that my husband and I are in this together.” -- Tema

Problems with DIY Frames
“I have a friend who frames and when I took the framed items into the gallery I know, they told me that she had done it all wrong. They looked okay to me, but apparently they were sealed on the back and shouldn't have been because the canvas can't breath and so on. -- Ruthie

Choosing a Style of Frame
“I believe that the most important thing is uniformity. You don't want a bunch of different frames because that will make you look like an beginner. … A gallery friend of mine … told me that an artist can become just as well known for their framing as much as for their work. -- Ruthie

Sometimes, I prefer not to have a painting framed -- then, I make sure I have a really good wrap around canvas mount and paint around them. They always look good. -- Tema

“I get my frames from Salvation Army, without glass, they cost little. … I get canvas in a roll, so I can cut out the canvas to fit the frame, and the standard, I use my hard canvas.” -- Yvonne

“I don’t frame mine. I make my own stretchers mostly, so the edges are gallery-wrap, and I either continue the picture onto them or I paint them in a neutral colour.” -- Taffetta

“Depending on the size of a painting I will either use simple wood frames or attach wood strips on the sides. I don't go all out with framing, I figure the person who buys it will probably have a specific type of frame they prefer.” -- Brine

”I've seen a lot of paintings sold with just a butt-strip frame. This simple frame not only protects the painting, but can also enhance it if done neatly and without any attempt to make it more than just a simple frame. I'm talking about paintings from artists whose work is collected and which sells in the thousands.” -- Rghirardi

“I've heard others say that strip framing is fine and that the buyer will get their own frame but I think this gives the buyer too much credit and I think it depends on the style in which one paints. Many abstract paintings would look completely wrong in a decorative frame.” -- Painter 03

“What works for me is keeping several nice-looking, store-purchased frames and use them for my very favorite paintings for shows. This gets the people coming and asking questions and if they seem interested, I show them the other paintings in a nice presentation case on a table. It isn't the best way to show I'm aware, but it works for confined spaces and for what I do”. -- Anawanitia

More of this feature: Opinions on and from Professional Framers

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