Saturday, January 21, 2017

Framing Textile Art (part 2) 10 Tips for Framing Textile Art

In my previous post (which you can read here) I wrote about my reasons for framing my textile art works. While that post told my story about framing there is so much more information about framing that I wanted to pass on. So here are a few of my tips about framing textile art.

1)   Consider if framing is right for your textile art
The ideas and aesthetics of my artworks are well suited to framing and I find that framing my embroideries is a necessary step for presenting my work as a professional product that people can easily purchase and hang in their homes. In saying this framing may not be the best choice for every textile artwork. Textile art is unique and varied and framing a piece may limit or even detract from what makes a particular piece of textile art special.

If you were considering framing your own textile pieces you need to ask yourself if the frame will add or subtract from the artwork. In many cases a frame will add a level or professionalism, protection and neatness, however you may be sacrificing the tactile allure of a piece by trapping it behind glass.

2)   Find a good framer (who has experience framing textile art)
Quality is important – find a good framer and stick with them. Finding a framer that uses quality, archival materials will mean that your artworks are well presented and protected for years to come. I have been using the same framer for about ten years now. I have a good relationship with them, they know what I like and expect and as a result my framing has been consistent for the last ten years. This consistency is important if I have repeat customers who want new artworks to match their original pieces.
Textiles often require extra care and special mounting methods so it is very important to find a framer that is familiar with framing textile art. Shop around until you find a framer has experience with framing textiles or unusual items and they will become a part of your art making family.

3)   Factor your framing costs into the price of your artworks.
Custom framing can be very expensive but in my opinion it is a necessary evil. My framing costs are by far the greatest expense of producing my work but I see it is an obligatory material cost that protects my work and increases its overall value. These costs then get factored into the pricing of my artwork.

4)   Avoid cheap premade frames (as tempting as they are)
There are many premade frames on the market in standard sizes but finding a good quality prefabricated frame can be tricky – unless you are purchasing it from a reputable framer. Many of the cheaper, mass produced frames you pick up are poorly made and don’t use archival, acid free materials. You get what you pay for so if you are getting a frame for $10-$20 bucks, chances are it is rubbish. If you are selling your artwork to the public you don’t want to be associated with products that will discolour or fall apart in a few years and if the frame isn’t acid free it may even mark or damage your textile art.

5)   Stick to neutral frame and matt board choices
The correct choice of frame and matt board can make or break an artwork. Framing choices are very subjective; everyone has different tastes so framing materials and proportions need to be very carefully considered. When I visit my framer it is like going into a candy store … so many tantalising colours and textures to choose from and it is easy to get carried away and choose elaborate frames and fancy matt board options. These fancy options may be great for your personal framing projects but for saleable artwork I believe that it is important to frame neutrally so that the artwork stands out rather than the frame.

I keep my framing very simple– a thin white box frame and matching double mount matt board. I choose my materials carefully so that they are all the same type of white, by doing this the transition between mount board, matt board and frame is quite seamless and just adds some subtle shadow borders around the artwork. I find that this very neutral colour scheme works with almost any interior however I am happy to reframe a piece if a collector really wants the frame a specific colour (at the collector expense).

6)   Ask for D-Hooks
A standard hanging string should come on any custom frame but ask your framer to also add D-Hooks to the back of your work. D-Hooks are needed if you ever hang an artwork with a hanging system, which many galleries use.

7)   Check your frames before you leave the framer
It is always a good idea to have a really good look over your framing orders when you pick them up so that you can instantly identify any issues with the framing job and have them fixed straight away. Good framers will quality check their work but occasionally you will get little annoying things like a fingerprint on the mount board or a stray bit of dust or hair trapped in the frame. These types of things are usually very easy for the framer to fix but really annoying if you find them later after you have left the framer or when you are hanging a show.

8)   Use a professional if you are shipping framed work
Shipping framed artwork, especially those framed behind glass, can be a delicate and expensive process. I have heard many horror stories about artworks being destroyed in the post because they were not packed properly. So if I need to ship work I always have them professionally packed by a courier company that is familiar with shipping original artworks. To reduce the risks of glass breakages in transit (and to reduce weight) you can alternatively frame your artworks behind acrylic (Perspex).

9)    Handle and store with care
Unfortunately frames can be easily chipped or scratched (especially on those fragile corners) and this will detract from the look and quality of the whole artwork.
·      Always store and transport framed work wrapped in bubble wrap with the protective cardboard corners attached until just before the work is hung.
·      Don’t ever put framed work down on hard flooring without some protection underneath it (a towel or scrap of bubble wrap is fine).
·      When moving and turning large framed works avoid pivoting the work on the corners, instead lift the work off the ground and turn it in the air.
·      Very large and/or heavy works should be handled by two people.

10)  Reframe damaged works (expensive but necessary)

I am really particular about how my work is packed and handled but when I loan work to galleries or exhibitions I can’t control how it is handled and it occasionally comes back damaged – which is really annoying. If any of my frames are damaged I endeavour to get the work reframed before I exhibit it again. This is an unfortunate expense but I see it as necessary for the professional presentation of my work. Chipped and scratched frames look terrible. I wouldn’t want to buy an artwork that wasn’t pristine so I wouldn’t expect my collectors to either.


  1. Your post is very interesting and very usefull. Thank you to share your experiences. Josiane

  2. Your website is really cool and this is a great inspiring article. Thank you so much.

  3. Thanks so much for the ink... this is really a great article and will be a guide for my future framing for sure.