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The Art of Framing Art

by - Thursday, November 26, 2009

When we were emptying Mama HandyLuster's home to prepare for her move, we uncovered a set of wonderful old photographs. The photos were taken by Wallace Macaskill, a great Canadian Maritime photographer renowned for his photos of the Bluenose schooner (one of which was used for the Canadian 10-cent piece, where it appears to this day). Mama HandyLuster had been given three of these prints as a gift, and had found two others at a garage sale. When I saw them, I knew I wanted to display them in our home. I loved their worn vintage quality and since HandyMan loves to sail, they would feel very personal.

Mama never had the photos framed and given their size and the fact there were five of them, I knew it would be a bit pricey to do so. Luckily, Michaels offers 60% off custom framing every few months so I waited for the sale. Now here's where a lack of forethought ended up costing me a few $$. I have never had anything custom framed before (Ikea has served me well to this point!) and thought it couldn't be too difficult - just pick a frame and a mat, right? Wrong. Do you know how many different frames and mats Michaels offers?? There are 15 variations of white alone! But I had a squirming baby on my hip and had driven 1/2 hour to get to the nearest store so there was no way I was leaving without placing my order. Really.Bad.Idea.

The framing people were helpful but let's just say they weren't really versed in more contemporary styles and like everything matchy-matchy. So while in my head I was thinking of something more like this:

I ended up ordering something more like this:

Huh. Yeah, what just happened there? I don't know. After I got home, I thought more about it and realized I needed to order a more neutral mat. And on closer look, I also realized the mat width the Michaels' framer specified wasn't as large as a thought it was (only 1.5") and would look really skimpy. So, the next day I packed up the kiddo again, made the trek to Markham, and picked out what I should have picked out the first time: French White mat, 3.5" border.

Some of the photos were vertically oriented while some were horizontal; some were sepia toned while others were more black and white. Because I wanted to display them all together, to make them more cohesive I had them matted so that their exterior dimensions were all the same.

The plan is to display them in the dining room but we haven't yet decided on the layout. So for now, I have them propped up in various spots around the house.

After the framing fiasco, I'm not quite ready to commit and drive some nails into our pretty wallpaper! Baby steps here folks, baby steps.

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  1. You did really well...I've been influenced by the people behind the counter before and haven't gone with my gut and find I'm always dissapointed when I do that! Especially when it comes to paint colours... Love your blog.

  2. Those images are fantastic. I'm planning on wallpapering a room or two in my home and never even considered the issue of driving nails into it - but I imagine it would stress me out...

  3. I love how you made the exterior dimensions all the same...never would have thought of that!! Will be handy to keep in the back of my mind next time!

  4. The framed photos are beautiful ... right decision on framing.


  5. Your post has perfect timing. I was just explaining to my sister what she should do with three different sized pictures from Alicia Bock. It's all about placing them in the same size frames with different sized mats. Thanks for the post! Great timing!

    ps. The pictures look fantastic!!

  6. the cinnamon post - glad to know I'm not the only one that gets swayed sometimes ;) Thanks for visiting my blog!

    j&k - putting nails into the wall stresses me. The fact that we have a crumbly cement wall behind the wallpaper stresses me even more, lol.

    Shauna - Its funny what the right frame can do. I barely notice that the photos are different shapes anymore.

    Sharon - Thanks! I love it too :)

    Sarah La Rose - Glad I could help! I love Alicia Bock's work!

  7. I get really overwhelmed with lots of options too. I'm sure they will look great!

  8. Anonymous5:55 PM

    I can totally relate to not knowing at first what you want, getting talked into colors and/or styles and not knowing where exactly to hang things.

    Would you believe I've had color prints on copier paper taped to my living room wall for about 8 months now?

    I think I have all the frames I need but want to mat them all the same color - so will need to get custom mats cut (some frames came without mats, some with, but all different shades of white). But I'm having committment issues about what color mats I want!

    My latest idea is a white mat with black core (so the bevel cut shows black). I'm using several different styles of black frames for all the color photos and rosewood frames for the black & white photos - hopefully giving it some wacky planned look.

    It is for a wall about 15 feet long on the side of our living room that is like the wall of a hallway because of the layout of the room. Pictures of parents, grandparents, grandchildren, children & us all at different ages - some formal shots, some crazy snapshots.

    Hopefully by putting in writing here I will guilt myself into visiting the frame place to get the mats - wish me luck!

    Orlando, FL


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