I had to recently send some artwork off to an exhibition. However, I decided that the small canvases would much better with frames. So off I trooped to the local hardware (super) store. Eeek! Basic wood materials are expensive. I have my ever growing wood pile in the corner of my studio. Where possible, I always like to use recycled materials, for two reasons.
- It reduces some of the waste in the world.
- Its usually free.
My friend Pierre came through with some materials for me, others I found lying around in forgotten corners of the building and yes, ultimately, I did also purchase some wood materials. I bought several cans of spray paint to coat the frames and give them a finished look.
Back in the studio I set to work. Part of the trick is working out your workflow with your materials and reducing production time, otherwise the time you devote to building the frames is not recompensed once you sell the final framed artwork. It took a little refinement, but now I have my production line.
The frames are basically a box like arrangement with space between the canvas and the frame which results in the canvas being inset. I cut a sheet of ply or particle board slightly larger than the canvas. That becomes the back. I cut strips of thin wood that then are glued to the backing and each other. I don’t bother with 45° diagonal cuts for the corners as that results in too much work. I simply butt the wood at 90°. Then with some wood filler and sandpaper, I smooth the joins over and any rough wood grain on the cuts.
Then comes the fun (but toxic) part of spray painting the frames. I spray the outside of the frames first. It is easier then with masking tape to cover the outer painted sides and spray the inside. I choose a colour for the inside that will offset that of the outside and emphasise the effect of the canvas being inset.
Once all is dry, it is time to mount the canvas inside. To do this I screw the backing of the frame onto the wooden stretcher frame of the canvas. I can also optimise this by using the same screw to attach the hanging fittings to the back of the frame. The fittings I use are a hinge like arrangement that allow me to tie a wire between two of them. I can then hang the painting on nail in the wall. But the hinges also have metal loops which then allow the painting to hung on a professional gallery hooked hanging system; the best of both worlds.
With the frames the paintings look complete and worth the price I put on them.