DIY Archival Framing

Professional framing can get expensive. Archival Methods’ offers everything you need to do your own archival framing. This post discusses how to choose the best frame for your project.

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Gallery 12 Wood Frame Kits come in Black, White, and Natural Maple finishes.
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Custom metal frames come in several colors, finishes, and profiles. This is a good DIY choice whether you have standard or non-standard dimensions to frame.

The following steps focus on some of the important things to consider when choosing which frames would best enhance your artwork, photographs, collections, or family archive materials.

These steps—and our library of matting, mounting, and framing videos at the bottom of this blog—also show you how easy it is to do your own archival framing.

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The 1920s photograph in the center was mounted onto a sheet of black mat board back when the photo was originally made. It’s shown here in its new custom cut 100% cotton acid-free warm white mat that has a window that was purposefully cut larger than the photograph itself in order to reveal this original black mat board. Here this matted photo is ready to be placed in a black pre-cut metal frame that was chosen to elegantly match and enhance the black mat board.

Archival framing is important to help prolong the life of your artifact. The Library of Congress recommends framing a reproduction of your paper-based material and storing the original in proper archival conditions. Whether you frame an original or a reproduction, you should use archival supplies and display it out of direct sunlight and fluorescent lighting.

The first step in any archival framing project is correctly matting and mounting your piece. Between our short videos and more in-depth illustrated blogs, you’ll know just what to do to prepare your piece for archival framing. Once you have your piece archivally matted and mounted, it’s time to decide on what type of frame you’d like.

How to Choose Your Frame

There are a number of choices to be made when it comes to what kind of frame might be best for your needs:

Wood frame?  /  Metal frame?  /  What color?  /  What frame profile?  /  What depth?  

The answers to these questions depend on your personal tastes, what you’re framing, and where it might be displayed. While tastes vary, there are some general guidelines. 

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Just as you have picked a mat board color that works with the piece you’re going to frame you’ll also want your frame choice to work with:

          1.)  the matted piece itself in terms of matching visual tones

          2.)  the room in which you’re going to hang the framed piece

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 A great example of black metal frames (vs. white, gold, silver, etc. which just wouldn’t work as well) perfectly matching the color tones of these photographs. They also stand out well on the natural white painted walls where these images are hung.
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 A black metal frame is also planned for this old collectible advertisement that features the ill-fated Titanic. The white sheet on the left under the frame sections is a sheet of UV-Filtering Acrylic glazing, which will protect this 100+ year old artifact from light damage.
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 While not yet matted, this gold metal frame brings out the warm sepia color tones of this antique photograph, while also enhancing the bright and lively character of the piece. 
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In this contemporary print of jet planes the cooler color tones of the piece would be best served by a black or silver metal frame as illustrated here. What’s best between the two is a matter of personal taste.

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 As another example of a frame matching it’s contents, here is an old, warm-toned print matted in a 100% cotton natural white acid-free mat and then framed in a natural maple finish Gallery 12 Wood Frame. Like the metal frames suggested for the photograph of jet planes illustrated above, in this case both the natural color of the wood and the wood frame material match the era, color tone, and character of this 19th century print. 
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Also placed in a Gallery 12 Wood Frame, this wedding portrait works well in a white mat and frame, as this again matches the color tones of the drawing as well as the occasion itself.

Having explained some of the visual factors that you might wish to consider when choosing a frame, let’s look at some additional details and differences between wood and metal frames.

Gallery 12 Wood Frames

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Gallery 12 Wood Frame Kits are available in three different colors and several different standard sizes. They are easily assembled with just a screwdriver!

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If you’re looking for a quality wood frame to enhance whatever matted piece you may have, then consider choosing one of these elegant Gallery 12 Wood Frame Kits! 

These high quality frames are made from carefully selected solid woods. The maple frame has a natural clear finish, while solid poplar is used for the satin finish black and white painted frames. The kit includes the frame, all hardware (including picture wire & hooks!), archival foam backing board, and a sheet of ultraviolet light-filtering Acrylite glazing

All you need is a phillips-head screwdriver to assemble these frames, and they’re easily re-opened to access your piece or to reuse the frames as needed. 

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To see just how easy it is to use these frames, check out our short video on Gallery 12 Wood Frames at the bottom of this blog!

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If you’re looking for an all-in-one classic wood frame, consider our high-quality Gallery 12 Wood Frame Kit for its elegance, ease of use, and safe archival protection that will enhance your framed images, artifacts, and collectibles!

Choosing Pre-Cut & Custom Metal Frames

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Metal frames can lend a great deal of gallery- or museum-level sophistication and elegance to your artwork, collections, or archive materials.

Archival Methods offers sturdy aluminum frames in a various colors and profiles to meet your specific needs, all of which will enhance every aspect of your artwork and flat collectibles. 

Whether displayed in your home, office, or an art exhibition, your matted materials will be showcased in high-quality frames that are sophisticated and are easy to assemble (see the short video on Assembling Metal Frames at the bottom of this blog).

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A fine art photograph, matted to an 8 x 10-inch finished size in elegant black 100% cotton acid-free mat board, fits perfectly in a pre-cut black metal frame.

Our pre-cut metal frames are available in a variety of colors, profiles, and standard sizes.

These standard sizes are what most galleries, museums, photographers, and artists routinely use, as these sizes are relatively universal. Having such standard sizes makes manufacturing these frames a bit less expensive, allowing us to pass on the savings!

Often our customers need specific sizes, profiles, or colors that fall outside the pre-cut standard sizes. This is where the flexibility of “custom-cut” frames comes in handy.

What’s more, our website is set up to make ordering your custom-cut frames quick and easy.

No matter what size or profile metal frame you need, Archival Methods can most often meet your exact needs with either our pre-cut or our custom-cut metal frames. Combined with our wide-ranging mat cutting services and our top-of-the-line museum-quality materials, all your matting and archival framing needs can be addressed in one place.

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In closing, whether you’re archivally framing a single piece, or an entire exhibition, and whether you’re framing your materials in a wood frame or a metal frame, look to Archival Methods for all your professional-quality matting and framing needs! And feel free to give us a call or send us an email if you have any questions, as helping you get the job done right is what we’re here for!

How-To Videos for DIY Framing

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If you have any additional questions, or would you like more information on any of our museum-quality acid-free storage & presentation materials, please contact us here at Archival Methods. We’re always there to help with any archiving, storage, or presentation questions you may have.