Frame Your Own Work, FFS

Stephen Yavorski
5 min readApr 2, 2019

Many artists, including myself, have spent plenty of hard-earned dollars at the frame shop. After a while, it begins to hurt the wallet. It also can take an extended period of time to get your framed piece back. Sometimes it’s not a long wait, but sometimes it can be 2 weeks and longer for a turnaround time.

Something I’ve learned to do is to take framing in to my own hands. I had the privilege of working along side a very talented framer and she taught me a few good tricks and techniques. In this post, I will show you some very simple things you can do to frame your own work inexpensively and quickly, while keeping it a top quality frame job.

The first thing you want to do, is grab your artwork and mount it on a sturdy backing. I recommend acid-free foamcore.

The best and most safe way to do this is with some linen hinging tape. As you can see here, took two pieces of hinging tape and made a “T” with them. This is called a T-hinge. This way, I can adhere the drawing to the back of the artwork and not damage the front. Linen hinging tape is acid-free, and while it is low-tack, it will hold your artwork very well. Linen will also flex and bend, so you don’t have to worry about it cracking and deteriorating like you might with a paper tape, like masking tape or artist tape.

For smaller pieces, One T-hinge might do the job. For slightly larger works, two or three will need to be in place. This is what it looks like when the T-hinge is holding the drawing to the foamcore backing.

When you have your T-hinges placed on your artwork, it’s then time to align it. This is one of the benefits of the low tack adhesion of the linen tape. Take your matboard and align the drawing so it fits properly behind the window.

PRO-TIP: A mat-cutter is an invaluable investment.

After you align your drawing and stick it to the backing, the next step is to cut a foamcore gutter. This is essential for if you have work that is done in charcoal. The gutter will allow any residual dust that might fall off of the drawing to fall behind the mat, instead of in front of it and on the glass. It is not necessary for graphite and some other paper based media, like watercolor, but for anything that is chalky and dusty like charcoal and chalk pastels, it is completely necessary. In addition to providing a place for dust to fall, it also looks nice too!

The next step is to put the glass on. This is where you can check if there is any particles on the glass and front of the matboard. if there is anything on the glass, I recommend gently wiping it down with rubbing alcohol and a paper towel on the side that is facing the artwork. The side that faces you can be left alone, because you can always wipe it later.

Now is the time to secure your drawing in to the frame. The most efficient and secure way to do this is with a point driver as shown.

When you have your artwork secured, you then can take some craft paper and cover the back. The way you want to do this is by taking ATG tape and line the sides of the frame, then carefully place the paper straight on like so

After that, it’s time to put some D-rings on your frame. The optimal place to put the D-rings is about 1/3 of the way down from the top.

When you have your D-rings in place, take some framing wire and wire it all together. I recommend tying a framers knot, which is shown below, but you can easily look up a youtube video on how to do them, if you can’t figure it out on your own.

Mirror the knot on the other side (this part is a bit trickier than the first one)

And when you wrap the extra bit of wire around the main part of the wire….

You’re done!

This took me about 30 or so min to frame and depending on the type of frame you get, you can do some really nice frame jobs yourself for minimal overhead. Even if you get expensive materials, you can do it quicker and for less money than your local framer, with practice, of course. There are countless places where you can order frames without glass and in custom sizes for all of your work, so you can just get the glass separate and put it together yourself. You can even go to most custom framers to have them fit together the frame for you to buy without them putting the artwork in so you can reduce your price of their labor.

I hope this helps some of you guys. If it does and if you think it can help someone else go ahead and share.