1. How can I get advice about picking the right frame for my item?

Bring your item in to Monster Framing to discuss the framing with one of our design consultants. The best framing designs are created based on your tastes, the intended hanging location, and the appearance of the item itself. There is no charge for design advice, and a design consultant will be able to show you samples and ideas as well as provide individual advice and a quote.

2. Can you provide tips for selecting the right color mat?

We recommend using at least two colors. This allows you to use an accent color without overpowering the piece. For the top mat, select a fairly neutral color that has the same basic value as the overall artwork. It is also common to simply use a white or off-white mat as the top mat, but the design tends to work better if the value of the top mat is closer to the value of the art. Select an accent color to use for the second mat that would draw attention to the focal point in the subject matter. This second mat is there for impact and contrast, so it will generally be a more intense color than the top mat and usually of contrasting value with the background of the artwork as a whole. This approach is one of the most commonly used in creating a basic double mat design. If you would like to add still more interest, you can use a third mat. The easiest way to ensure that you select the right colors for a piece of artwork is to bring it in to our design gallery so that one of our consultants can work with you to select a color harmony that complements the artwork.

3. Why are some mats cut with a wider bottom?

The practice of bottom weighting mats is a subject of great debate in the framing world with a number of explanations for its function. One suggestion is that many works of art are created with the focus of the image slightly below center, and that weighting the mat helps to keep the image from looking like it is sinking in the frame. The explanation that makes the most sense is that many galleries dealing in photography will reuse the same frames from exhibition to exhibition, and when the frame is a different shape than the artwork, the difference needs to be absorbed in the matting. Often, the extra border width is simply placed at the bottom of the mat. People have grown to associate this look with gallery framing and sometimes emulate the design even though weighting the matting is far from a requirement. If you choose to create this look, make the variance in border width large enough so that it doesn’t simply look like a mistake–that is, make it noticeable–but not so large that this design element distracts from the image. For example, four inches top and sides with five inches on the bottom.

4. What width of mat will look best with my art?

In general, the best mat border width is determined by a number of factors including the overall size of the piece, the width of the moulding, and the particular hue and value of the mats and the art. The goal is to attempt to give the art enough space inside the frame to allow the eye to rest upon the art without being distracted or crowded in by the framing. In most cases, you will want your mat to be appreciably wider than the moulding: A mat that is much narrower than the moulding ends up looking like an afterthought or a way to force a picture into a frame of the incorrect size, while a mat that is the same width as the moulding can be visually unsettling. It is more attractive to have some variety in the design and avoid the visual monotony of repetitive widths.

5. How do I avoid moisture between the glass of the frame and the photo?

When actual moisture condenses on the glass in a picture frame, the most common cause is high relative humidity followed by a drop in temperature. This is actually fairly uncommon in most household environments unless the item hangs in a bathroom. In this case, moisture on the glass is practically unavoidable. The best way to avoid this is to hang the picture in an area with lower humidity and stable temperature. If a photograph is framed in a manner such that it directly contacts the glass, it can appear “wet” even though the effect is just caused by the photo’s emulsion clinging to the glass. Over time, a photo in direct contact with the glass will tend to stick, which can ruin the photo. For this reason, you always want to allow a bit of space between the photo and the glass, which can either be provided through the use of a mat or plastic spacers.

6. I have heard that you should never put glass over paintings on canvas, but I see it done this way in museums. What’s the truth?

It used to be believed that glass was unnecessary or even detrimental to the artwork because it didn’t allow the artwork to “breathe”, and the function of glazing was handled anyway through the use of varnish. Nowadays, the myth about paintings needing to respire is starting to fade, and framers are realizing that the use of glazing provides protection from dust, insects, physical contact, and even ultraviolet light. For this reason, many museums now glaze their paintings, although most museums use UV acrylic instead of glass since acrylic poses less risk of damage to the artwork should the glass shatter. In any case, if a painting is glazed then it is imperative that a spacing mechanism is used to prevent direct contact of the artwork and the glass or acrylic. Often, the choice over glazing a painting comes down to finding a balance between aesthetics and preservation. While there are legitimate preservation benefits to glazing an oil painting, many people prefer the traditional look of an unglazed painting. It really depends on how much importance you give to the unglazed look versus the protection afforded by glass or acrylic.

7. How much will it cost to frame my print?

Questions about the cost of framing are probably the most common type of inquiry. There are many factors that affect the pricing of custom framing from the finished size and the number and type of mats to the type of glass, mounting method and  the width and composition of the frame. You should know that no matter what the item our designers are able to work with you to find a framing treatment that meets your needs as well as your budget. The best way to get a good idea of the cost of framing your specific item is to bring it in to our store and one of our design consultants will customize a design for your piece and provide a quote. There is no charge for this design consultation and it is really a lot of fun to explore all the design options.

8. How do I clean “Museum Glass”?

Museum Glass does not require a special cleaner, although an ammonia-free cleaner is recommended for all picture framing glass. Since Museum Glass is so clear, however, sometimes fingerprints that would not be noticeable on normal glass are visible on Museum Glass and many glass cleaners will just smear the skin oils from a fingerprint across the surface of the glass. In most cases, alcohol can be used to remove these fingerprints. Always spray the glass cleaner on your cleaning cloth, not the glass. When cleaner is sprayed directly on the glass it tends to run down the surface and seep under the lip of the frame at the bottom, which can cause the cleaner to soak into the mats, backing, and artwork and cause damage. You can help prevent this damage by spraying the cleaner on the cloth instead.