There's a good article by Apartment Therapy on sourcing cheap frames for small projects like original prints, family photos and kid's art. It's easy and economical to find a frame online or off-the-shelf and be done but there can be hurdles to creating the perfect look. Here's a few tips from our shop for making the most for your DIY picture frame project
TIP #1: Wood frames are the way to go
Small inexpensive frames are usually wood, metal or MDF (wrapped in a thin plastic veneer). Metal and wood frames last the longest while MDF frames tend to deteriorate quickly. This break down is caused by the chemicals and glues (MDF) expanding and contracting (even under normal climate controlled conditions) until the corners come apart and the hardware loosens. Wood frames are best: they last longer and can be refinished or modifying as needed.
TIP #2: Custom mats for better proportion
Frames off the shelf usually include a matboard with a standard window for a standard size print. If the art is a unique size chances are the presentation will look disproportionate or it simply won't fit. This is a perfect opportunity for you to custom cut your own watercolor papers or decorative papers and have at it. Or you can have mats cut for the perfect fit. Custom mats can be economical and in a shop like ours there's no additional cost for assembly.
TIP #3: Cheap frame means better features
A DIY picture frame from old barn wood, a yard sale or off the shelf can look amazing with features like UV protective or Anti-reflection glass or acrylic. We offer a wide array of glazing options for simple amazing results for any sized DIY frame project. This vintage etching (below) was found at an antique mall and just needed a tune up to look it's best. The original glass had residue from age which was also causing the print to yellow. We replaced it with Conservation Clear, a 99.9% UV protective glazing and added a small 1/8" spacer to keep the glass off the print. The result is charming.