Posted on Nov 2, 2009 in General

I recently had a wonderful tour of the Frames Conservation Department at the Tate, where Alastair Johnson explained many of the processes that go into the restoration of antique frames as well as the creation of new frames for museum works. For an overview of how a frame is constructed (I think maybe I always thought maybe they were just extruded, like Play-Doh), take a look at this article.

It did remind me, though, how a really inappropriate frame can detract from a painting, and how a very good one can enhance it. And gold frames do not an Old Master make. Because it’s a pretty ubiquitous contemporary aesthetic, and also for reasons of economy, I’ve always used extremely simple light-colored frames. I wonder: if I really experimented to find exactly what kind of frame might most enhance my work without overpowering it, what would it be? And could I make it myself? Creating a new frame using the techniques of the past looked like a lot of fun. You could do a lot with wood and molding from the lumber store, carpenter’s glue, some clamps, and a miter saw.

It’s often easy to see when something is poorly or inappropriately presented, but studying the painting that is quietly and harmoniously supported by its frame may give some clues about how to best present one’s own work. A big question to ponder.