How to select a frame shop
While an understanding of the finer details of selecting a frame may be useful, getting to that point requires you to have already selected the frame shop to do your framing. The selection of a framer is more important than the selection of the actual frame itself. When looking for someone to frame your oil painting, there are quite a few points to take into consideration.
Essentially, most frame shops can be categorized as either an independent framer, a chain framing store or a large retail store that frames. Independent framing shops are usually run by a single person or a small group of people. Most of their work is done in house and they typically are more flexible with their work. Usually just about any custom work can be accomplished. The cost between independent frame shops will vary widely but the trade-off is in knowing everything will be done by a specialized employee with years of experience.
Chain frame shops generally have standardized equipment with standard design elements. They probably will use one particular brand of matting as well as a specific distributor for their glass and molding. Depending upon the location, custom work may be ordered from another store or could be done in house. The trade-off with a chain frame shop is that they are typically middle of the road in quality, selection and the experience of their employees.
The larger retail framing stores are generally smaller shops located inside a larger art and craft supply store. Typically there is only a single brand of glass, matting, and molding options. Sales often occur every other week where they advertise being cheaper and faster than the other frame shops. The trade-off here is low prices with large variances in the experience of their framers. Some of their employees may have been framing for years while other workers may be new on the job looking to receive on-the-job training while mounting your painting.
When selecting a custom framer, one of the most important aspects to consider is your peace of mind. If you feel the work environment may be detrimental to the safety of your painting, quality and price are irrelevant. Other considerations should be the shop's experience and understanding of custom framing in general. Anything done by the custom frame shop should be 100% reversible. If the framer cannot convince you of their expertise, move on to the next shop.
Also consider the materials the shop uses. Irregardless of how comfortable you may be in the environment and how talented the framer may be, the quality of the materials they use should be taken into account. The molding should be solid wood or metal and not plastic. The matting should be acid- and lignin-free; museum board is the highest quality matting available. The glass should be UV protective. Talk to the framer about the conservation of your artwork. If the materials they use are not designed to help preserve your painting, visit the next frame shop on your list.
The least important consideration is cost. There is a reason quality framing is expensive. You are paying for skilled labor and quality materials designed to help preserve your painting. If cost is a concern, a good frame shop can find ways to help reduce the cost of the framing without compromising the conservation of your painting.
Most of all, do not be afraid to take your time. Visit several shops and ask lots of questions. The proper frame will present and preserve your artwork for many years. A few extra days getting all of the small details done properly will be well rewarded over the many years of your oil painting's life.
Frame Shop Checklist
- Do you feel relaxed where your painting will be mounted and framed?
- Do you feel your painting will be safe with them?
- Does the framer have extensive previous experience?
- Does the framer seem knowledgeable about the framing and mounting procedure?
- Does the framer seem knowledgeable of proper preservation methods?
- Does the framer seem to genuinely care about your satisfaction?
- Does the store have a large variety of quality frames, mats and other materials?
- How quickly can they finish your framing and still do the work properly?
- Is framing the store's primary business or is it a secondary service?
- Is the store locally owned and operated?
- What type of guarantee or warranty do they offer?
- What type of work has the framer been doing recently?
- Who is directly responsible for your satisfaction?