Matted or Floating Frames
Part of creating art is displaying the medium in a way that complements the artwork. Like a gold chain holding a stunning pendant necklace, the frame around a work of art is the finishing touch that can enhance, or take away, from the aesthetic you’re hoping for. Let’s take a look at what framing options are out there and how to choose the right one in a sea of options.
“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” -Edgar Degas
To start off I’m going to let you in on a framing secret: not all artwork needs a frame. Artwork that has been gallery wrapped, a method of stretching a canvas around the sides of a stretcher bar and secured to the backside of the wood frame, do not require additional framing and can be displayed as-is. However, for artwork requiring a frame there are endless options ranging from inexpensive DIY styles to elaborate professionally built creations. Let’s take a look at how to narrow down those options...
First, it’s important to make sure you’re choosing the right frame for the artwork you’re displaying. While you may prefer a certain frame style there are recommendations for various art mediums to ensure the artwork is protected and can be enjoyed for years to come. For example, art created with watercolor, pencil, pastel, charcoal or photographs should be matted and placed in a frame behind glass to prevent fading or yellowing. In contrast, art such as oil paintings can usually forgo the matting and glass and can be positioned in a traditional open frame or a floating frame.
Typically all styles fall between two major categories: matted and floating. Matted artwork refers to the process of mounting the medium to a thin piece of cardboard-like material that functions as both decoration and protection from the frame’s glass. Alternatively, floating frames were designed for printed or painted artwork to give the illusion of the piece floating inside frame - which creates an very appealing, and modern, three-dimensional look.
If you have chosen to go with a matted frame you will choose between two main types of mat material: acidic and acid-free. Due to acid-free paper not being available or marketed until recently, artwork mounted on older mats, which were made of wood-based paper, and are typically acidic. To insure longevity of the artwork it’s vital to mount it on acid-free mats. The difference is essential for the long term protection of the piece because acid-free mats help prevent what’s known as mat burn, brown marks created on the artwork due to the acidity of the mat, and can help preserve the quality of the piece.
Once a mat style is chosen you will need to choose a color that complements the piece. It’s important to take into account the artworks colors, busyness, style, and size to keep the frame and mat from competing with the artwork. Finally, once a mat style and color are chosen you can place them within a frame that suits the artworks style, your home decor, or personal tastes.
For those looking for a modern and contemporary feel floating frames might be the answer. Much like standard frames, floating frames can be made out of metal or wood and can be custom made to any size. Many different finishes are available, including metallic, matte, wood and antique. Since floating frames are designed for print or photography based art, they need to be matched with the stretched canvas frame that can be attached to the back of the floater frame. This creates the illusion that the artword is floating inside and not touching the main frame.