Part 1: A Guide to Mounting and Framing
Part 2: The Framing Process
Part 3: How to Hang Your Artwork
Part 4: Advanced Framing Tips

The Framing Process

Working with a modern frame

Once you have found your perfect frame, the process of fitting your artwork is very straightforward. If you have purchased a brand new frame:

  • Place your frame glass-side down on a padded surface
  • Open the clips or lugs that hold on the backing board (you can usually do this just with your fingers, but needle-nose pliers or a plastic shim such as an old credit card can be useful to lift tricky fixings) and remove the board
  • Remove the machine-cut mat if your frame includes one, as it is unlikely to be of use. It need not go to waste, though – young children can have lots of fun decorating these unwanted mats with stickers and paints, and they can use them to ‘frame’ their own drawings
  • Dust the inside of the glass with a soft cloth if necessary, then simply drop your artwork into place and replace the backing board
  • Your picture is now ready for your wall! We have some tips on grouping and displaying your artwork later in this guide. And as an advanced option, we also have a tutorial on how to use framing tape to seal the back of the frame and give some additional protection against dust

‘The frame is the reward of the Artist’

Edgar Degas (1834-1917)

Re-using an old wooden frame

If you are re-using an old wooden frame you may need to do some additional work. If you look at the rear of a frame you may see that it is sealed with a brown paper tape. In this case:

  • Place your frame glass-side down on a padded surface
  • Peel away the tape. You might find that wetting it slightly will help remove stubborn pieces
  • Unwind the hanging wire on one side, or remove both the eyelets and wire to make things easier if you want do a thorough clean
  • Remove the backing board. With an old frame it is likely to be held in place by small nails, framing pins or glazier points (small metal pieces that bite into the moulding, which may be flat and triangular or may have a sharp point and flanges that hold against the rebate). Remove them with needle nose pliers, using gentle pressure and a wiggling action to work any troublesome ones loose
  • Clean the inside of the frame if necessary with a cloth and soft brush, making sure to remove any old fragments of paper or slivers of wood from the edges.
  • Clean the glass, inside and out. There’s more advice on materials and solutions to use for glass cleaning in our Antique Care guide. If you decide to lift the glass out of the frame for a thorough cleaning try to maintain the same facing and orientation when you replace it – a small sticker or piece of Post-It note will help you remember which way up it should be. Please remember that the glass may be fragile and the cut edges may be sharp in places, so be extremely careful if you choose to do this. Hold the edges with paper towels, or wear cotton or disposable nitrile or latex gloves to give you some protection
  • Let everything dry thoroughly, dust with a soft cloth if necessary, then drop your artwork into the frame and replace the backboard. You can refit pins or nails by gripping them with pliers and gently tapping the handle with a light pin hammer. Glazing points with flanges are easier, as you can push them in with a broad-bladed screwdriver or coin, with a little help from a pin hammer if required. Use the original holes if you can, but if these are loose drive the pins or points into a fresh area of wood. Be very careful throughout the process not to lean or put pressure on the glass whilst you are working. Just replace a few to start with so you can flip the picture over and ensure you are happy with the result and that the inside of the glass is dust and smear free. If so, refit the rest of the pins, seal around the edges with framing tape if you wish, and finally replace the hanging wire, making sure that the wire and eyelets are strong and sound

Part 3: How to Hang Your Artwork