Creative matting choices from the gallery to home

Socar Myles is a highly skilled artist known for incredibly detailed and imaginative illustrations using only pen and ink. Socar's gallery asked us to design framing for her recent and upcoming body of work for an exhibition later this year. Each illustration is unique: various proportions, whimsical scales and values that follow the patterns of the artist's inner logic with near absolute preciseness and harmony.

We started her series off with a dynamic triangle cut mat focusing the eye into the center of the illustration. Ovals, rectangular matting, and french decorative matting were unable to capture the fine details of the illustration which appeared only as a series of neutral tones. The elegant Roma frame pops with it's metallic, fluid finish and adds to the individuality of the artwork it's protecting.

With a simple twist on the matting, the artwork is presented as it should be: in style and imagination.

Custom Birch float frames for Ed

Ed's plein air paintings have a near perfect original spin and pictorial vocabulary which have garnered attention from galleries along the West Coast. He was having a difficult time finding the right frames for small works that are reflected landscapes in office buildings painted on location around Irvine, CA. Mainframe designed and fabricated a series of float frames from Baltic Birch plywood resulting in a matched aesthetic and frames that accommodate the pictorial values of the paintings. Ed Bopp is currently exhibiting at Paul Williams Gallery, Ontario, CA, Mainframe, Seattle WA., and is represented by Brett Rubbico Gallery in Newport Beach, CA.

Fixing a Frame: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

One of the best things about picture framing is getting to interact with something cool and interesting almost every day. This week the winner is: an original Dye Transfer of an alternate cover for the Sgt. Pepper's album cover. Jann Haworth and Peter Blake proposed several images for the landmark album and this one here is third state before the final revision. There are only 4 in existence. This one made a brief appearance in Krab Jab Studio's Lennon exhibit and came in to the shop for very minor service to the frame. We also made a small ad hoc display box for Lennon's prescription sunglasses. I tried them on and saw an alternative reality that I can't explain.

BSA Beezerker Photobox

I was pretty stoked when Chris brought these into the shop. These prints have a subtle pearlescent finish and the image, like the thing itself, deserves the spotlight and the best presentation framing the shop could produce. The solid walnut frame was hand finished with wood oil and we used spacers to add depth without the use of matting as well as to keep the glazing from touching the print. Check out the Beezerker here.

Museum Wraps

You don't need museum quality framing for everything but when you do it's nice. Museum quality consists in several steps and procedures insuring the artwork's safe handling during the framing process and it's preservation long after. 

In this example, an original watercolor by Michael Hague the framing package (backing, mats, and glass) is sealed by pH neutral linen tape around the parameter to keep out bugs and mitigate the off gassing of the wood frame (if any) passing through to the artwork. The linen tape is also used to hinge the 100% rag mat to the barrier paper that houses the work, held in place by archival corners. One of the most important hallmarks of museum quality framing is that all of the adhesives and tapes are pH neutral and archival quality. Conservation grade glass and a Roma profile finish the job with stunning results.

Float frames for canvases

Float frames for works on canvas or panel is possibly one of the most timeless profiles in contemporary framing. The thin space created between the edge of the canvas and the rail gives the painting that little extra breathing room, that little extra space needed to take on a life of its own. Float frames come in a wide range of depths so the canvas is recessed (pictured here is about .25 inch) for additional protection and dramatic effect. We carry a fine selection of float frames in our shop and can custom mill a profile for the perfect fit. Pictured below is a painting by local Seattle artist Jamie Brouwer showing in our gallery in 2015.

Notes on Museum Glass

Museum Glass is one of the best framing investments second only to the perfect vintage frame and a job well done. Museum glass filters out 99% of ultraviolet light while providing perfect visibility and clarity of the artwork. The results are stunning. Our example here, Tributaries by Virginia Katz shows how the intricate details are enhanced with museum glass compared to the regular glazing.

Framing Collectables

Sports memorabilia and other important textiles like vintage kimono silks and tapestries can be well preserved and displayed in shadow box frames. This Sounder's jersey signed by the whole team was framed in a black shadow box with archival dark grey mat and spacers and UV glass to keep the jersey and the signatures from fading.

We designed this Sounder's jersey in a fairly standard black 1 1/2" deep black shadow box and charcoal grey mats. This highlights the jersey and creates prominence in a dark office space with spot lighting. Warm and bright textiles often look very good in neutrals and light wood tones. Our mounting techniques for jersey's and textiles are completely reversible and adhesive free, insuring the piece is unaltered or wouldn't deteriorate over the life of the fabric.

Working for scale: creating harmony and balance with mats

One of the more important elements in framing art and photos is the size of the mat. The boarder created between the picture and the frame both harmonizes color and tone and establishes proportion and balance with the art and the space.  Usually frames purchased off the shelf end up being disproportionate one way or another. Too thin one way and too thick the other: a real life example of how asymmetrical geometry effects everyday living.

These three drawings (walnut ink on 17th century paper) are good examples to see how different matting styles creates balance and proportion. The packing-tape dispenser appears to be larger with a thin boarder; the scotch tape dispenser has a lifelike dimensional aspect due to the isolating effect of wide mats; finally the image of the tape becomes highly abstract as the weighted bottom draws attention to the white area of the tape.

Proportion and scale are important elements in the presentation of an artwork, wedding photo or college diploma.

Float Mounts: Our specialty

Float mounting artwork is a great way to present artworks that need a little extra something for display. This includes collage, textiles and fabric based works, odd shapes, anything. Float mounted artwork is one of our favorites because the presentation looks deceptively simple, lending more prominence to the artwork.

Seattle artist and designer Jason Grube's works on paper are perfect candidates for float mount presentation because his art is never boring. Never boring, always demanding, action packed, fun, I could go on. Much of his work exhibited in the last two years has been float mounted simply because the images lose punch if partially covered (which is usually a livable standard). Our gallery of images below will finish explaining the phenomenon. We currently represent Jason in our gallery and have a limited number of original works and prints on hand.

Jason Grube

Edna Crews (1915-1992) Birds Above the Surf

When our gallery exhibited Edna's retrospective earlier this year (Feb.) one collage caught our eye as very subtle and well executed, but the frame was falling apart. The story was Edna found a unique frame at an antique store and created the piece for the frame. It happens all the time. But here the quality of the artwork far outweighed and out-lived the framing.

Here's one of our best examples of museum framing for the year. Cotton rag antique white  matting, archival adhesives throughout, conservation glazing, and a water-gild gold leaf frame that is traditional but not overboard. The collage is floated on a second mat w/ a small spacer to give it an extra touch of depth and to keep the glazing above the artwork.

Our gallery represents Edna Crews estate and currently has Birds Above the Surf and several other watercolors available for purchase. Feel free to inquire about viewing and availability.

Donna McGinnis: Framing timeless interludes

Donna McGinnis is an artist who can delve between pure abstraction and landscape with fluidity and painterly ease. Most frame shop's typically design framing for abstracts by pairing a neutral or high contrasting finished moulding with some aspect of the painting or the decor. And this is the correct procedure. But when Donna's work came into the shop via an independent collector I was reading on the paragonality debate (the "inter/exterior" of the frame and the artwork) and wondered how to design the framing with this high theory in mind.

The result was a solid ebonized walnut frame and a 1/2" inch float mount between the edge of the work (on heavy paper) and rabbet. The drawing, a grey color field processed over a lot of undertones, is floated above the mat and suspended just under the glass by an additional support with spacers keeping the glass firmly in place at the lip of the frame. The drawing is one of Donna's early works and had originally been framed using low-grade materials and had some mild discolorations around the edges.

Treatment for neutralizing acids in paper is possible but can be expensive, so we used archival adhesives for the spacers and backing to minimize 'off-gassing' in the framing package. I could imagine that some museums would line the inside of the frame with linen tape or tissue, but to keep costs down we're relying on the alpha mat spacers.

Donna McGinnis "untitled" mixed media on paper

Framing is my Rushmore

This very limited edition 4 color screen print based on Wes Anderson's film Rushmore has a metallic bronze background and light grey that mimics the silver of the 10 speed. The challenge of framing this piece is to balance not only the contrasting color fields but to show off the fine details as well. Framing this piece with a dark mat and frame would obscure the details and something too light would accentuate the bronze making the whole presentation out of balance.

Out of hundreds of possibilities, and from the ten that were great, we used a antique white silk mat that highlights the extremely fine lines in the background. Some silk mats have a muted finish but this particular mat has a brilliant sheen that looks vibrant against the metallic paint without drawing too much attention to itself. The rounded antiqued silver faced frame w/ black sides was intended to compliment the bike frame which is essentially the catalyst of this scene.

To keep some of the archival costs down (from "eternal" museum grade materials) we used regular conservation grade glass, alpha mats, archival backing and barrier paper. Usually museum's seal the whole package from glass to backing with linen tape as an added precaution to keep out moisture. Oh, that's Latin. While not entirely museum grade this print was framed with conservation care and designed with our best efforts.