Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Ugly Underbelly Called Framing

      I’ve spent the better part of two days cutting moulding and gluing joints to make frames for 26 new works---all due by Thanksgiving!
     This is where the glamour ends and the grueling, knuckle-grinding work begins.  So this situation begs the question that artists must ask themselves…. How will I handle the framing of my work?
     The avenues are many, but when you break it all out there’s a big fat fork in the road that requires a decision.  Will I frame my own work?  Or, will I pay a professional framer?  One decision requires an investment in equipment and supplies, while the other requires more cash outlay to a professional.  Self-framers can execute their vision and meet their quality standards without the middleman.  However, sending out your framing gives you more time to produce.
     I like being in charge of my framing, but I don’t enjoy the process.  Framing is hard work and I don’t slight the professional for his time and profit.
     The reality of your circumstances will be the true barometer of your decision.  If you’re working out of an apartment with two bedrooms, a frame shop isn’t a reality, so start looking for a pro.  In my case, I live two hours from a major city and the remoteness dictates that I am better off building my own frames.  UPS delivers everything to my frame shop, and I figure the framing time into my final deadlines. 
     I have a separate space that is dedicated to framing, and I have a system for framing that has been developed over many years.  This process has been a consistent plus for our business. 
     I think next week I will frame one painting as a demonstration, from beginning to end.  This way you can see the underbelly of the framing beast and make an informed decision.  

All content and images © Mark Kohler Studio.


  1. Hi Mark, could you include in your demo a list of the materials and basic equipment needed to build a frame?

  2. Melissa,

    Yes, I'll be glad to give you all the details. I think it will be interesting for people to see all that goes into producing the final product, from start to finish.

  3. I'd love to see the framing process. EVERYTHING has one part (usually the very last part) that the artist doesn't like doing. Usually because it's necessary to the quality and completeness of the work, but it's not nearly as much fun as the rest of it. And it always takes time you don't want to spend on it. However, it makes the art and you're glad you did it .... after it's over.

  4. Linda,

    Sounds like you're speaking from experience. I can imagine that there is a stage in the quilting process that you just wish you could skip to get to the finished product, right? You have this image in your head of what it will look like, but the view is obscured by this task that looms like a mountain, and you feel you'll never reach the summit!