Frames are made out of a few different materials; wood, metal, polystyrene and plexiglas.
Wood frames tend to be a popular choice because of their warmth and more traditional appearance. These frames are created using a solid length of wood with a veneer or gesso applied to create detail.
Metal frames on the other hand, offer a bold and contemporary look with strong clean lines. Metal frames often have a high gloss or brushed finish and usually only come with a flat or slightly rounded shape.
Polystyrene is a recycled material used to produce frames that resemble wood but are free of blemishes such as knots or uneven grains. Though similar in appearance to wood, polystyrene frames often lack the character of wood.
Plexiglas is a clear plastic that is used to create a box that encapsulates artwork. They have a very modern look and it can often appear as though the art floats on the wall.
Matboard is a paper-type product that comes in a variety of colors, thicknesses and grades. Mats are made with either cotton or wood pulp. Cotton is naturally acid free and offers the best preservation quality. Wood pulp by comparison is highly acidic and needs to be chemically treated to guard against it. The main function of a mat is to separate the art from the glass. With no space for air, artwork will often stick to the glass over time. Mats are also used to create a border to highlight the art and to draw the eye inward.
Glazing is a term used to describe the glass or acrylic used to protect everything within the frame from changes in temperature and humidity as well as fading. Both glass and plexi come with different finishes that change the way you see your artwork. UV protection is a coating applied during manufacturing that is resistant to ultra-violet rays that cause artwork to fade over time. Other finishes can also applied to change the transparency. A regular UV conservation glass will show reflections from light while a non-glare finish reduces reflections but also makes artwork appear hazy. The best type of glazing is museum grade which combines UV protection with a special coating that renders it invisible.
Mounting refers to both the way artwork is attached and the material to which it is attached to. Each mounting method is designed to take into consideration the type of art, its stability and its eventual location. Hinging is the most widely used method and was created to be completely reversible. Drymounting is a heat and vacuum process that permanently glues art to foamboard. This type of mounting is usually reserved for reproducible posters and photographs. Other types of mounting include sewing, the use of mylar corners and stretching for canvases.
Once the frame and all its components are assembled, a dust cover is applied to the back of the frame using a double sided framing tape. The purpose of this protective cover is to not only give the frame a look of completion and polish, but it also to protect the art. The dust cover is pulled taut and prevents dust, dirt and insects from getting inside the frame and humidity from damaging the art. Once the dust cover is in place, screw eyes, hanging plates or D-rings and wire are attached to the frame. Hanging hardware and wire come in a variety of sizes and gauges. Care is always taken to ensure that the proper fittings are used and that they are of sufficient strength to support the weight of the frame.