Thursday, April 21, 2016

Enjoy Eco-Friendly Framing


We are artists. We consistently reach beyond our consumerist natures and see the effects of our actions and habits. We feel connected to the environment. We have innate desires to preserve and protect the world around us, which gives us such inspiration.

Wall Gallery Framing


To support this effort of conservationism, we carry a number of eco-friendly frames in collections like Basic, Infinity, and EcoCare and we participate in eco-friendly programs and business practices.

Green frames

Eco-friendly FramingWe have found that, though many of our customers desire to buy more environmentally friendly products, many are unaware that these frames are available to them. We keep our standards high, considering each piece of the frame — from wood to glue to finish — before labeling it eco-friendly. Of the frames we offer, there are two main types of eco-friendly frames: wood and aluminum.

For a wood frame to be labeled eco-friendly, it must

  • be manufactured out of solid wood,
  • be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC),
  • have a non-toxic finish, and
  • have non-toxic gessos.

While not often thought about, aluminum frames are the most eco-friendly frames you can buy! Aluminum frames are

  • 100% recyclable,
  • the number-one most environmentally conscious mouldings you can choose, and
  • 100% archival.

Maintaining our commitment to environmentally conscious initiatives, we aim to stay local. 80% of all our frames are made in the United States. Products made in America are held to higher environmental standards in manufacturing than in other parts of the world.

Green process

To be truly eco-conscious, the process has to match the hardware. That is why we challenge the industry standards. Our suppliers are almost exclusively American, and our production and process are focused on the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

Certified Carbon Neutral Shipment
Unique in our industry, we participate in the UPS CarbonNeutral Fund. Every package we ship is carbon neutral.

From our door to your wall, we are committed to environmentally conscious framing.

Do you frame your photos in “green?” Comment below to share how you invest in eco-friendly framing and decor!

Ready for your next framing project? Check out our eco-friendly frames! Enjoy enjoy 15% off everything sitewide! Use code "LOVEYOURART" at checkout.* Contact us at (800) 537-0944 or AmericanFrame.com for more information!

* One coupon per order.

Laura Jajko
Laura Jajko is President of American Frame and a longtime contributor to "A Good Frame of Mind." Here, she delights in bonding with others over her love of art and framing. With more than 40 years of practical experience, she brings a unique perspective in a straightforward style that she hopes will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialogue in our online community. Connect with Laura directly here on the blog or follow her on Twitter @LauraJajko.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Design a Gallery Wall

Designing your own gallery wall may seem daunting but can actually be a simple, fun, and rewarding project. With the right tools and mindset, you can create your own home decor statement piece that will complement any room.

Choosing a layout


Assuming you have decided on which artwork and items you want to use, you’ll want to plan how they will be organized on the wall.

There are many types of layouts but, for the most part, they fall under two categories: modern and eclectic.

  • Modern — A more traditional look with a distinct shape, a modern layout is uniform and linear.
  • Eclectic — A varied look, an eclectic layout is not limited to paintings or photos. Feel free to mix shapes, mediums, colors, and depths.

If you choose a modern style layout, you will want to create a symmetrical, grid-like gallery wall. The matching frames will be about the same size and be organized in a structured pattern.

Today, we’re going to show you how to take a more eclectic approach. There is a lot of flexibility in an eclectic style layout. The frames don’t necessarily have to match each other in size or style, and they can be arranged in any way.

Creating your gallery wall


Creating an eclectic gallery wall is simple enough with some planning and the right tools. Because it is a varied style by nature, it won’t be uniform. Mike Cromly from Ask Mike says that it’s best to try to visualize the wall before you begin adding nails and hanging hardware. We’ll take you step-by-step through the whole process!

1. Plan the arrangement.


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Place your artwork on the floor in front of the wall you’re going to use as your gallery wall. This allows you to see the space it will be in but also gives you the flexibility to move your pieces around until the whole group fits together best. We suggest starting with the center focus piece and organizing all other pieces around that.

2. Trace your frames.


Using kraft or newspaper, trace the outline of each piece of artwork and cut out the shape. Refer to your floor layout, and tape each cutout on the wall in the same position. This allows you to focus on the overall effect of the arrangement.

3. Arrange and rearrange. 


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Once your paper cutouts are taped to the the wall, arrange and rearrange if necessary. Don’t be afraid to move things around! It’s best to play and move things around now before placing the final nails and hanging hardware.

4. Replace the paper cutouts with your artwork.


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After the previous steps, actually hanging your artwork is simple! Once your layout is the way you want it, go ahead and start replacing the paper cutouts with your artwork.

5. Admire your eclectic gallery wall!


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Congratulations on creating a statement piece for your home! We can’t wait to see what you have created. Share this post and photos of your finished gallery walls using the hashtag #framinghappiness.

Happy framing!

Ready to start creating a gallery wall? Contact us online or give us a call at (800) 537-0944. Enjoy 20% off American Hardwoods and Standard Plus 3 frames. Shop the collections here.


Mike
So, who’s Mike? He is the man behind the mission of getting your picture frames produced and out the door quickly, correctly, and with custom frame-shop quality. Once your order is placed, it is in the hands of Mike and the many people he has trained over his 35-plus years with the company. A natural teacher, Mike loves to tinker and experiment. Of course he has a nice office, but we rarely find him there! Working in the plant to improve our processes is his passion. Outside of American Frame, Mike is an outdoorsman, avid fisherman, devoted family man, and Ohio State Buckeyes fan. Follow him on Twitter @AskMike400

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Sophistication, Presence, Drama: Try the 8-Ply Mat Board

You make many choices when putting together the framing concepts for your original art. Your artwork is meaningful to you, and we want to help you get every detail just right. Selecting a frame has its own list of variables to choose from, but we’ve found that artists tend to find themselves most confused when it comes to choosing a mat board.

To guide you through your options, we will cover the qualities, effects, and applications of the mat board of choice for most veteran framers: the eight-ply mat board.

What is an eight-ply mat board?

The word “ply” refers to the number of layers of material used to make a mat; an eight-ply mat board is one of the thickest options for DIY framing. At American Frame, the material is constructed from either 100% cotton or treated Alpha Cellulose.

Great American Art suggests eight ply for professional artists because it is rigid (at double the normal thickness), acid-free, lignin-free, alkaline-pH buffered, and resistant to bleeding and fading.

What are the benefits of an eight-ply mat board?

The eight-ply mat board is all about drama. Its 45-degree bevels, approximately three-sixteenths of an inch wide, accent the extra-thick core, making this mat board ideal for pieces that benefit from bold and enigmatic displays.

From a functional perspective, eight ply is constructed for conservation of your work, relieving you of concerns about fading, bleeding, and other types of material degradation. It also provides a solid base for custom framing in larger works of art.

When should you use an eight-ply mat board?

Because of its optimal archival protection, Great American Art recommends eight ply for rare, antique, and historical works of art and paper documentation. It is also the option of choice for watercolor paintings in art galleries and museums.

Visual comparison of a four-ply mat (top)
 to an eight-ply mat (bottom)
The thickness of the material tends to take up a significant amount of space in the frame channel (or rabbet), so you should consider using it as a single mat board. It typically can’t be layered like six- or four-ply mat boards can. If a solid, dramatic, polished look is your goal, eight ply may be the best choice.

Also, keep in mind that with a thicker mat board, you’ll need to calculate your measurements correctly. The thickness of the mat board needs to be added to the thickness of your artwork, acrylic glazing, and mounting board, then measured against your frame’s channel.

Visit us online to look at our current sale on our varieties of eight-ply mat boards! We carry five AlphaRag eight-ply mat boards and two in the AlphaEssentials collection. We offer free samples to help you properly prep for your next DIY custom-framing project. Contact us at (800) 537-0944 or AmericanFrame.com for more information!


Laura Jajko
Laura Jajko is President of American Frame and a longtime contributor to "A Good Frame of Mind." Here, she delights in bonding with others over her love of art and framing. With more than 40 years of practical experience, she brings a unique perspective in a straightforward style that she hopes will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialogue in our online community. Connect with Laura directly here on the blog or follow her on Twitter @LauraJajko.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Don’t Hide Your Art! Frame for Minimalism

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Eye-catching. Simple. Timeless. These three words capture the essence of a design style that has spanned the centuries: minimalism. Minimalism has been applied to a wide range of art forms, from graphic design to sculpture and photography, and it has a particular role to play in art frames.

What is minimalism?

Minimalism looks exactly the way it sounds. It is characterized by overt simplicity, pronounced contrast, and lots of open space. According to Design Shack, here are a few basic principles of this design theory that will guide you in your framing:
  • Limit yourself to one central visual; your artwork should not compete with the frame, the mat, or any other supporting elements.
  • Focus on content; everything about your framing should drive the eye toward the main subject of your artwork.
  • Stick with sans serif typography (if used).
  • Aim for grid-based images to keep the artwork simple and organized.
  • Let your artwork breathe — cluttering in color or imaging is a no-no.
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Images from photographer Darren White, framed with Ridgeline frames.


What does a minimalist frame look like?

Several types of frames lend themselves to minimalist design. Because this timeless style requires the use of only the absolute basics for functionality, avoiding ornate or detailed frames is a great start.

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Keep it simple. Although metal custom frames tend to work best in minimalism, any sleek wood, like a frame from our American Hardwoods Collection, can work as long as it doesn’t distract from the artwork. You may find yourself assuming that thin frames are the way to go, and you wouldn’t be wrong — thin frames tend to work best. But a thick frame can serve a minimalist purpose in the right context as well.

Wider mats are common simply because they add space and breathability to the artwork. Pale-toned linen mats and mats in varied shades of white will simplify the look as well. When selecting colors, consider the elements of contrast and keep in mind that the frame shouldn’t overshadow the painting. And always keep the color palette of the display location top of mind.

What types of artwork are best for this style?

Luckily, minimalism lends itself to a range of art styles; it all comes down to how you pair the painting with the mat and frame. Empty Easel suggests that for a more edgy, contemporary art tends to flourish with plain geometric frames, whereas portraits and landscapes can achieve minimalist looks with more traditional frames.

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Images from Stephen Petegorsky, framed with Standard Plus Three frames

For maximum compatibility, consider ordering a custom frame designed to your specifications. Remember, your overall goal is to stick to the bare bones basics so the eyes of your viewers will be drawn to the elegance of your artwork.

These guidelines will give you an excellent starting point, but ultimately, if you can meet the overall goals of minimalism — simplicity, contrast, and focus — while breaking some of the specific tenets of the design style, your artwork will stand out for its own beauty and worth.

Ready to try your hand at minimalist framing? Ridgeline frames are now 20% off, with free shipping on orders of $125 or more!* Contact us at (800) 537-0944 or AmericanFrame.com for more information!

*One coupon per order.

Laura Jajko
Laura Jajko is President of American Frame and a longtime contributor to  "A Good Frame of Mind."  Here, she delights in bonding with others over her love of art and framing. With more than 40 years of practical experience, she brings a unique perspective in a straightforward style that she hopes will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialogue in our online community. Connect with Laura directly here on the blog or follow her on Twitter @LauraJajko.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

4 Creative Techniques for Framing Watercolor Paintings

Framing watercolors gives the artist opportunities to be creative with the final presentations.  Luckily, there are plenty of ways to frame your watercolors and get the effects you want. We’re going to cover four of them, and they’re so simple, you can do them yourself!

1. The deckled edge
To showcase the deckled edge of the paper, we will want a narrow mat that doesn’t cover the edges.

First, we’ll mount the watercolor to a piece of no-cut mat board using float hinges (V-Hinge or S-Hinge) using archival or acid-free tape, or your preferred method to give the watercolor a “floating” effect within the mat.

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We will then place a second mat board over the watercolor, raised on a spacer. Thin strips of foam core are mounted to the back of the mat board using archival or acid-free tape. The foam core strips must be cut thin enough so that they don’t come to the edge of the mat board.

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The second mat board with the opening cut is laid over the top of the artwork and the spacers. The second mat does not cover the edges of the artwork, as is typical in traditional framing, so as to showcase the deckled edge of the paper.

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2. Float mount with spacers
Again, use archival or acid-free tape to float the watercolor on a no-cut mat board. Since we aren’t using another mat board to separate the acrylic from the artwork, we will attach Econospace Spacers to the back of the frame. It is important to keep a little space between the artwork and the acrylic because direct contact can damage the watercolor over time.

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Watch this video to learn how to use the spacers:


3. The minimizer — minimal buckling under a raised mat
If you’re looking for the traditional mat look, use this method to make sure you capture the watercolor — without the watercolor buckling.

Mount the watercolor using a piece of mounting board and archival or acid-free tape, as we did in option 1.

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The second mat will cover the edges of the paper like you would see in standard framing. Because watercolors are created using so much water, the paper is typically wavy and buckled. To minimize that buckling, we raise the mat board above the artwork using homemade spacers. To create the spacers, attach thin strips of foam core to the back of the mat board using archival or acid-free tape.

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The spacers allow a little room between the mat board and the watercolor, lessening the effect of the paper’s waviness.

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4. The shadowbox effect
The shadowbox effect is created by again floating the watercolor on a no-cut mat board, but it is also raised.

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To achieve this raised, floating effect, the artwork is attached to a piece of foam core that is smaller than the artwork, again using archival or acid-free tape.

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The piece of foam and the artwork attached to it are mounted to the center of a no-cut mat board.

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Additional strips of foam core, faced with strips of mat board, are then attached to the rabbet of the frame. Make sure your frame is deep enough for the artstack and the strips for the shadowbox style.

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All stacked together, the “artstack” is what creates the depth in the frame and the shadowbox effect.

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Any of these methods will protect your watercolors in style. Need more help? We’re here for you! For detailed steps on how to secure and frame your artwork, see the “How to Attach Artwork in a Framing Treatment” post from our blog, Good Frame of Mind. Happy framing!

Ready to start framing your watercolor paintings? We have you covered. Check out our framing accessories and tutorials to get started! Let us know if you need any help by calling us at (800) 537-0944.



So, who’s Mike? He is the man behind the mission of getting your picture frames produced and out the door quickly, correctly, and with custom frame-shop quality. Once your order is placed, it is in the hands of Mike and the many people he has trained over his 35-plus years with the company. A natural teacher, Mike loves to tinker and experiment. Of course he has a nice office, but we rarely find him there! Working in the plant to improve our processes is his passion. Outside of American Frame, Mike is an outdoorsman, avid fisherman, devoted family man, and Ohio State Buckeyes fan. Follow him on Twitter @AskMike400.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Seeing Red — Make a Fashion-Forward Statement

In pop culture, the color red is associated with a number of different emotions, from hunger to energetic motivation. By selecting appropriate shades and properly combining them with complimentary tones, this popular color can bring out the latter in your artwork, building inspiration and energy into your space. When it comes to picture frames, the best results are all about color selection and coordination. How do you make the best use of this versatility?



A good look at current trends is a great place to start. Because of the passionate nature of the color red, it’s easy to overuse, accidentally overstimulating the integrity of your artwork. In today’s design environment, red as an accent color is the most common decorating strategy. Designers will use red — either brighter or darker tones, but always bold — to bring the eye to the greater details of your pieces.

Our bold red frames not only accent the subtle detail in your artwork, they also add that extra punch to a well-decorated room. Depending on the look and feel you’re shooting for in your interior space, red picture frames can pair very well with black or white mats.

For a darker motif, go with a bright red frame and a black mat. For more contrast, combine that same red frame with a white mat. To keep things more neutral and blended, use either a black or white mat with a duller, softer red frame. Going for a more eclectic, futuristic look? Try combining a red frame with a variety of different blues. Softer blue hues will typically work best, but depending on your artwork and the color scheme of the room, a bright blue could work nicely as well.

To give you further ideas to work with, here are a few color combination strategies from various corners of the design spectrum:

Contemporary
Contemporary design trends toward using bright, bold reds as accent colors, rather than a base color. With irregular but solid hits of red, the eye is often drawn to aspects of your artwork you might otherwise miss. It brings light to the darkness and punch to the softer hues.

Modern
Modern design calls for a variety of shades from the bolder choices of contemporary design to dark burgundy or brown. Maintain the hues as an accent, but shoot for the darker, deeper tones.

Traditional
Traditional design skirts the bolder, brighter reds and aims solely for the burgundy and brown colors. This design style requires a more indirect approach, blending the red more fully with the other colors.

Transitional
This style relies on neutral palettes, therefore creating the perfect framework for pops of bright reds similar to that of contemporary design, but with a more subtle background.

Country
Country design leans towards chalkier, softer reds; think barn red. These hues might lean closer to pinks and purples rather than stark-blood reds.



Check out our red frames and pick the one that works best for you!

Just for fun, we created a Seeing Red playlist! Check it out here and have some fun!

Ready to spice up a room with some red accents? Check out our collection of red frames in wood or metal. If you need any help, give us a call at (800) 537-0944!


Laura Jajko
Laura Jajko is President of American Frame and a longtime contributor to  "A Good Frame of Mind."  Here, she delights in bonding with others over her love of art and framing. With more than 40 years of practical experience, she brings a unique perspective in a straightforward style that she hopes will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialogue in our online community. Connect with Laura directly here on the blog or follow her on Twitter @LauraJajko.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Teaming Up: A Frame Collection Made for Simplicity

Walking through the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET), I was awestruck by the vast amount of paintings, sculptures, and artifacts. I always go there with the intent to view my favorite painters’ works but am always sidetracked a bit by the sculptures as I make my way to the painting wings. It’s pretty amazing to think of the craftsmanship and hours spent creating those sculptures. With that in mind, when I view the paintings at the MET I can’t help but look at the frames that they are showcased in. Most of the frames are from the same time the paintings were created, and just like the painter spent hours putting all that work into his or her masterpiece, another artisan put in hours of work to create ornate frames to house those beautiful paintings.

I have a hard time not framing my own paintings. I feel like it’s the icing on the cake, the exclamation point to the story, and the statement that “this painting is finished.” A painting has to have a certain feel and look to it to look “right" without a frame. Ultra-contemporary abstracts seem to be the top non-framed works. I guess when I look at some paintings that aren’t framed, they look like they aren’t quite “done” yet. I feel that way with my work.

Tim Gagnon work
Painting by Tim Gagnon
That’s why, about a year ago, I set out to find a company that thought of its frame products like artwork. I have ordered a number of frames of all types from many different companies. I’ve only found one where frames are really artwork, a labor of love.

Like I said before, I’ve ordered a lot of frames, and I’ve had a lot of frames show up damaged — putting me in a bind for art shows. I’ve also had frames show up that just didn’t have the great bold touch that the images used to describe them implied. I have never had that happen with American Frame. The frames show up completely protected and just as beautiful as they are shown on the website. That’s why I partnered with American Frame to create a collection that I find gives artwork that exclamation point — without the stress.

Ready to make your pieces stand out? Check out Tim Gagnon’s limited-edition American Frame collection. Use code GAGNON20 and take 20% off!


I’ve always carefully selected the frames I use for my own art. I feel like you should frame yours in something that gives it that finished, high-quality look without taking away from the image itself. You don’t want the frame to compete with your work; you want them to be partners in displaying your story. So when I worked with American Frame to pick out eight different moldings I had that in mind, I wanted frames that were really high quality with intricate details, but sleek and modern enough to fit my work and yours. That’s just what you’ll find in my American Frame collection. These beautiful frames will complete your statement, giving your pieces that fine-art feel you’ve been searching for.

framed paintings

If you ever see the painting by Emanuel Leutze of George Washington crossing the Potomac in person, prepare to be amazed. Not at just the size of the painting, the craftsmanship, or the details, but of the frame it is housed in. It’s an enormous gold frame with intricate mouldings and ornate features: A powerful frame to house a powerful painting.

Having a frame collection is something that I thought about a lot. Having ready-to-go frames for my work takes away a lot of the stress when it comes to a gallery show or sending work to someone who purchases it. I know exactly which eight frames to choose from. I want that same stress-free picking for the people who follow my work and those who explore their own artistic expressions, too. That’s why I worked hard at picking out eight styles that are really high-quality, with great details, but not too overpowering for your work. Plus, you can customize the size to your specifications.

With American Frame, rest assured your frames will arrive in perfect condition, in a timely fashion, and they will always be there to help you if you have any trouble or questions. These frames are ready to showcase your art. I’m really excited about my frame collection from American Frame and hope you go over and check it out!
— Tim Gagnon

Tim Gagnon
Tim Gagnon is one of the top-selling online art instructors in the United States — and perhaps the world — with over 25,000 students. He started his art career selling his paintings online directly to buyers. After a few years of painting and selling, he recorded a time-lapse video of the creation of one of his paintings, posted it to YouTube, and the rest is history.
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