R5 Frame It

Hung up on how best to frame your masterpiece? Certified framer Chris Cornell, owner of his eponymous 13-year-old frame shop and art gallery in Pleasantville, has advice.

Q: Are there any tips you can offer for keeping the price of custom framing down?
A: Don’t pick the most expensive frame per foot. You can choose a more straightforward frame and still have a professional, nice-looking frame that offers conservation and protection. And you can use a UV-filtering glass rather than museum glass; it’s very professional looking and still protects the artwork.

Q: What exactly does the term ‘museum quality’ framing mean?
A: ‘Museum quality’ frames protect and conserve the artwork for the long term by using UV-filtering glass or acrylic to protect the art from fading, plus conservation-quality, acid-free matting to keep the glass or acrylic from sitting directly on the work and possibly damaging it.

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Q: What’s the most unusual thing you have ever framed?
A: An actual Olympic torch carried and signed by Mohammed Ali after the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta.

Q: Are you ever taken aback by some of the things you’ve been asked to frame?
A: No, not really. It’s so diverse—everything from Christening dresses to a piece of the old Boston Garden floor to elephant art created by holding paintbrushes in their trunks.

Q: We understand that you still haven’t gotten around to framing your 2008 Best of Westchester Award presented to you last summer. Why is that?
A: It’s like the shoemaker’s children going without shoes. But I promise it will be in a frame before this article is published!

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What materials are frames made of? And which is your personal favorite?
Wood, including cherry, walnut, oak, and ash is the most common; it can also be finished in real gold leaf or silver and different veneers. Frames are also made of metal and aluminum, with plastic at the low end. I like dealing with wood frames and love the beauty of real wood grain, like cherry and walnut.

Are there any guidelines for choosing the size of a matt in relation to the size of the artwork?
As a very rough starting point, typically the bigger the artwork, the bigger the matt and also the wider the frame, the larger the matt.

What’s the single biggest mistake people make when framing their artwork?

They don’t have the framing done in a conversation minded approach and don’t know some of the steps to properly protect the art long term. If they go to frame something without matting it, the glass, being right up against the artwork, could damage it. And without a matt, if even a little bit of moisture gets in, the art becomes stuck directly to the glass.

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What personal memorabilia have you framed for your customers?
A woman framed the police badges of her parents, both career police officers. We used a gold frame, museum glass, blue fabric matting and a gold fillet or accent around the badges. For another customer, we framed a small portrait of her dad, who was an artist, along with one of his paintbrushes and one of his favorite pipes. And a customer came in with the wrestling shoes her son wore during his senior year of high school. We sewed them to a fabric backing, and then matted and framed them.

Why is custom framing so expensive?
Every piece is custom done and not mass produced, so you’re getting the benefit of being able to order exactly what would be right for your artwork. It’s the opposite of mass production.

Why or when should someone choose custom framing over ready-to-frame, do-it-yourself options?
Anytime that you think can use help selecting style and color and any necessary advise regarding conservation. If you buy a frame and just try to stick the art into it, you could be sacrificing in one of those areas.

Have art.com and similar virtual framing sites on the Internet hurt your business?
I don’t think so because most of our customers come to us because they want our design advice and framing knowledge. There will always be a cheaper way of doing so but our customer wants advice on how to properly present and preserve their art.

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