Thom's Framing Advice

Baltimore's Favorite custom picture framer posing with frame samples

As Seen in the Baltimore Sun

Thom sat down and talked with Dennis Hockman from Chesapeake Home about things consumers should know when shopping for custom picture framing.  The full article can be found on the Sun's website.
"Frame of Mind" 

Some Excerpts

 from the article, "Frame of Mind" by Dennis Hockman in the Baltimore Sun
"Frames should complement what is being framed. Often, more is made of the frame than the art itself," he says. "Triple mats and double frames are trends that will date the artwork instead of allowing it to be timeless."

For that reason, frames should not be selected specifically to match the decor. Aesthetic value aside, there's a reason museums and personal collections are filled with centuries-old paintings but not nearly as many tables and chairs the same age. Furnishings tend to follow trends because every decade or so they need to be replaced.

Upholstered pieces become stained or the frames begin to loosen over time. Drapes fade. Painted or papered walls need to be refreshed every five to ten years.

Because art hangs on the wall, though, it outlasts most home furnishings.

"You don't sit on it, walk on it or eat on it," Stone says. Done correctly, art pieces and their respective frames generally won't wear out, so there's really no need to replace them.

That being the case, Stone says, "with framing it's best to stick with classic styles that will work in any era," no matter what color you paint the walls.

Stone offered some framing "dos" and "don'ts," giving tips on how to best showcase fine art, limited editions, photographs, posters and memorabilia.

Fine art, limited editions

•Invest in materials. Insist on high-quality matting and glazing (glass). The added expense to upgrade from standard frame shop offerings to higher "museum grade" materials is worth it when you consider the added protection and preservation.

•Insist on expertise. Before you leave your art with a framer, determine exactly how the piece will be hinged, or secured to the framing materials. Irreparable damage to valuable art can result from faulty workmanship.

•Use restraint. Don't let your framer convince you that your art needs multiple colorful mats, double frames or fancy cuts to showcase your artwork. You chose the piece because you valued the art. Let it stand on its own. A great frame should support the artwork, not outshine it.


•Don't touch the glass! Glass resting on a photograph, especially a glossy finish, will quickly and irreparably damage your photograph. Make sure the glazing will be positioned away from your photo.

•Set your crop lines. You, not your framer should decide how much of the photograph is cropped or covered. If you want to see some of the border around the image, say so. Want to crop in on the image? Let the framer know how much should be matted over or cropped.

Posters and decorative art

•Know the value of your piece. Some posters are valuable; others are not. Don't assume your framer will know the difference. If you have a poster with some value, your framer should not "dry-mount" — permanently attaching the art to a backing board — unless absolutely necessary. Pieces with sentimental but not financial value can be dry-mounted for proper display.

•Don't be bullied. It's OK not to spend a small fortune on framing. Don't allow your framer to bully or guilt you into spending more than you intended to frame an inexpensive poster or decorative piece that could easily be replaced.


•Listen to the experts. Be open to suggestions from your framer on how best to display your collection. You might have a large collection of items that you would like to see displayed together, but be open to the idea that they might not all look great together in one frame. Work with your framer to design a layout that best showcases your items.

•Go for high-quality glazing. The glass you use determines how long your item will last. If you don't opt for a glazing that has UV protection, your item will fade over time.


Mix it up. While more ornate frames are typically used for something like an Italian Renaissance painting and contemporary pieces are often complemented by minimal frames, it's not uncommon to see someone juxtapose a traditional frame with a more modern piece of art, or vice versa.

Careful with color. Colored mats can distract from a piece, taking attention away from the art.

Wow won't always work. The visual effect of a frame should never overpower the piece of art.

Go with your gut. You know what you like. Don't be persuaded to follow a current trend if you're the least bit unsure. Remember: Classic is always in style.

Tips on finding a framer

Thomas Stone, owner of JLP Fine Art & Custom Framing Galleries, offers these tips on finding a good frame shop:

Ask about insurance Make sure your framer carries adequate insurance to protect your work. A reputable framer will have his or her own insurance policy to cover all work stored in the shop. Some framers do not carry insurance, leaving valuable pieces unprotected while in the framer's custody.

Look for experience Make sure your framer has experience with the type of work you are bringing to be framed. Every piece of art needs to be evaluated individually to determine the best presentation. If your framer is offering a "one size fits all" experience, you should consider looking elsewhere.

Shop around.  Just because a retailer is advertising deep discounts, that doesn't mean the final cost will be all that different from shop to shop. Don't be afraid to get a few estimates and pick the framer you feel most comfortable with. 

Looking for more framing advice?

 The Library of Congress provides their Preservation Guidelines for Matting & Framing on their website.  
Click here to view:
Preservation Guidelines for Matting and Framing
(by the way...JLP follows all of these guidelines!) 


 There were more framing questions on the minds of the Sun writers and they called on Thom, once again, to help.  

Here are their questions and Thom's answers: 

Here are their questions and Thom's answers

 How often should I rotate the art or photos on my walls?

Really, as often as you would like. Art and photos is very personal to most people so why not rotate your inventory? Adding some seasonal pieces to your collection gives you a great reason to change the look and feel of your room.  

The most important reason for rotating your art or photos is light. If you have work that is exposed to direct light (either natural or artificial) it will fade over time.  There are glazing products (special glass or acrylic) that protect against light, however these can only protect to their specifications. Moving works that are in direct light to an area that has less light is always a good idea.

Another reason to rotate art or photos is to create a new look in a room or the entire house. Grouping similar themed works together on a large wall is a nice look. Flanking a large mirror or art with smaller ones can help to fill voids. Sometimes salon style (multiple sizes and various themes grouped together) is the perfect look for a particular wall. 

Do you change the layout of your furniture often?  If so, you should take down all of the artwork and photos when you move the furniture and look at the room with a fresh idea, deciding what should go back and where it should go to fit the changed floorplan of the room.  

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong time to rotate artwork.  Just as art is in the eye of the beholder, the display of the art is up to the lucky owner of the piece.

Should I consider changing the frames to keep them looking up to date?

It depends on how the frames were chosen initially.  If the original design was a trend of the moment, and the look no longer fits the tastes or decor of the owner, definitely change the frame (and most likely the mat, too!)  If the original designer was more classically trained and chose a timeless frame that fit the piece (and not the furniture), and the original designer used proper conservation materials, the frame will likely never need to be replaced.  We like to tell our customers that, as much as we enjoy seeing the art and working on it, once the customer takes it home, we hope to never see it again.  If we did our job right, the frame and framing materials will stand the test of time and our customers can use their time and money to add to their collection instead of constantly updating the look of a few pieces.  Unfortunately, customers should beware that some shops do push the trendiest lines in hopes of repeat business on the same piece of art.  

That being said, if a trendy frame catches your eye and looks great on your piece, go for it!  Not all trends have died out (just watch I Love the 80's to verify that!)  If you still like the look years later, keep it.  If not, bring it back to pick another style.

The most important consideration for updating the frame is the materials used originally.  If the piece is fading, has detached from the mat or has any discoloration, take it to a reputable framer for advice.  While you are updating the mat and backing to conservation grade materials, you have a perfect opportunity to change the frame and overall look of the piece.