I've always framed photographs with a mat, both for the traditional look, and to keep the print separated from the glazing. Over the last year, I've noticed the variety of framing methods for photographs at the high-end New York galleries via the art show reviews on DLK Collection. Recently I was printing a panorama for a show with a 36" size restriction. I wanted to use the full width for the image. If you just put a print into a frame without a mat or spacers, contact with the glass can cause sticking, buckling, newton rings, and a variety of other problems. The trick is to use spacers to create an air gap between the print and glazing (glass or acrylic).
Here's what I did:
- The image was printed on 36 1/2" wide by 9 3/8" high paper that included 1/4" black borders. The actual image area was 36" x 8 7/8".
- The print was mounted on black gatorboard. The mounting process removes about 1/16" from each side of the borders.
- A custom frame was ordered to fit the overall size of the mounted piece at 36 3/8" x 9 1/4". Measure the mounted piece carefully before ordering your frame.
- The thin profile Nielsen 117 metal frames hang over the artwork by about 1/4" on each side, covering the remaining black borders.
- I applied a 1/8" black spacer to the entire edge of the acrylic glazing. The spacers covered the remaining black borders on the print, and are not visible under the 1/4" lip of the frame. The EconoSpace spacers are easy to cut with garden pruners (really!), and the 3M adhesive is easy to apply. The whole process only took a few minutes.
- Insert the mounted print and backing board, tighten the frame, and add your wire hanger. Ready to go!
My favorite online retailer for mats and frames is framedestination.com. They carry a great selection of mats and frames in the 2:3 aspect ratio, and their customer service is top notch.
If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, I highly recommend The Framer's Workshop in Berkeley. I brought my print down and they helped me install the spacers and make sure the finished piece looked great. I felt like I was in a parallel universe where everyone is genuinely friendly. Framing a piece at The Framer's Workshop was one of the best customer service experiences I've had in a long time.
If you're printing photos for an art show or your wall and don't want to use a mat, I hope these resources are helpful!