Strawberryluna

Quick & Simple Frame & Matte Guide + Diagrams

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So you bought a piece of artwork that you love, yay! Now what?

Yep. As printmakers and sellers we get these questions on daily basis from our online shops and in person at craft & art fairs. If you are wholly unfamiliar with the elements of framing prints and artwork it can seem like a math puzzle with multiple sets of numbers to keep straight. But really? It’s simple, we promise.

And to prove it, I’ve broken down the main elements in the below diagrams that I illustrated for you. Ta-da!

Frame_Matte_Diagram750

The 3 Basic Framing Elements:

  1. Artwork: The print, water color painting, vintage wallpaper, etc. that you want to display. This will be the smallest element in size. Shown here as my illustration of a tulip, including the entire artwork area.
  2. Matte: A thick paperboard “frame” with an opening where your artwork will be centered. Mattes can be any color (white or black are the most common), any width, and you can even “double matte” (or triple matte if you are feeling ultra fancy) artwork by layering 2 different sized mattes over one another and over your artwork to be framed. Your matte will be longer and wider than your artwork at it’s outer dimensions, but the inside opening will cover the edges of your artwork (the green areas as above) for a seamless fit. The matte doesn’t have to cover your artwork uniformly, it just needs to lay over the edges so that your artwork is centered in the matte’s opening.
  3. Frame: The frame that you choose, yep, it’s pretty self-explanatory. But like mattes, frames come in many sizes, but also in a wide variety of materials such as metal and wood, and in practically any color and finish that you can imagine. The frame will be your largest sized element, and like the matte goes over the edges of your artwork? Your frame will go over the outer edges of your matte (which in turn are over the outer edges of your artwork).  Framing is basically a layering game!

Frame_NO_Matte_Diagram750

However, note that a matte can be an optional element of your framed art, depending on your style and the artwork itself. Above you see a my diagram of the same artwork in a frame, but without a matte. To illustrate that difference further below are two examples of our Ghost Ship By Day Print framed, one with and one without a matte.

Example A:

With a matte below, in the upper right corner (photo by a sweet customer with great taste in prints @mylittlecherry on Instagram):

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 3.23.37 PM

Example B:

And the same print without a matte in the middle between two cuties (photo by one of our lovely retailers @apple.village on Instagram):Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 3.24.01 PM

As for the actual framing? Again, lots of choices to fit every aesthetic and budget are available. We love our local Frame Shops here in Pittsburgh:

We adore three places online that have great frames and mattes and both places offer all American Made materials, plus all frames and mattes are cut to your specs, which is amazing and really great. They all ship quickly and safely. All very affordably!

  • Frame USA – features an incredible selection of frames, mattes and materials from low to high end.
  • All Barn Wood – many of their frames have a more rustic and camp vibe with lots of reclaimed wood options.
  • Matteboard And More – offers custom size, color, and material options in mattes, backing boards, frames and show kits and more.

There are of course off great off the shelf options these days now too at places like IKEA, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond also where frames usually come with a matte included. If you are going that route, we suggest that you find a frame that you like, and then get a matte custom cut to your artwork’s size for about $10 at places like Michael’s & JoAnn’s craft stores, or at your local favorite framery or art supply shop.

So there you go! If you have any questions feel free to comment below. We hope that this post helps you get you new artwork up & beautifully displayed.

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Saul Bass Short Film: Why Man Creates

Here’s something great that you might enjoy as much as we do. In 1968 Saul Bass, the already legendary designer, created & co-wrote the short experimental film Why Man Creates with screenwriter Mayo Simon. Simon, most well-known for writing Futureworld isn’t the only Hollywood credit on this short – the young George Lucas was enlisted as a 2nd unit director as well.

Why Man Creates (posted recently on Fast Company’s site) is a wonderful snapshot of the extraordinarily playful + intensely serious thinking about Design (with a capital D) and intellectual thought so much a core foundation of Mid-Century American culture. There is no pandering to the audience, there is just fast-moving play & rhetoric mixed into one dense, small chunk of time and space planted quite firmly in a New York / East Coast vibe. We love it!

Bass’ description of the creative process that guided his career:

“Where do ideas come from? From looking at one thing, and seeing another. From fooling around, from playing with possibilities, from speculating, from changing, pushing, pulling, transforming, and if you’re lucky, you come up with something worth saving, using, and building on. That’s where the game stops and the work begins.”

Sounds just about perfectly true. We hope that you enjoy!

(Read more about the truly amazing Saul Bass here on his AIGA Medal induction page and also here on Wikipedia.)

Steve Frykholm’s Picnic Posters for Herman Miller

WHY_PicnicPosters_02One day out of the blue our good friend Terrence McClusky sent a link to an incredible little blog post and video about Herman Miller designer Steve Frykholm and his iconic “Picnic Posters”, created for the company’s annual employee & family picnics.

As young designer in 1970 (and Herman Miller’s first in-house graphic designer) Frykholm was approached to try his hand at creating a poster to announce the annual picnic that year. What blossomed from a simple side-project utilizing old school techniques that he learned in the Peace Corps is honestly so wonderful.

“It’s a sequence of events, one color at a time. And then that last one goes on and it’s better than you imagined.” – Steve Frykholm

Be still my heart.

Washing out a screen in preparation for printing.

Frykholm_PPP_washoutClick any of the images above or below to watch the beautifully done short video on Frykholm’s history, process and The Picnic Posters series.

Frykholm standing in front of the MoMA‘s collection of his Picnic Posters.

Screen shot 2015-08-04 at 2.17.46 PMFrykholm watching over the printing & drying process. Screen shot 2015-08-04 at 2.14.17 PMPhotograph of one of the many Herman Miller employee & family annual picnics. I want to travel back in time to this place and day…

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Kay Nielsen: Illustrations of Gorgeous Form & Light in “East Of The Sun & West Of The Moon”

Kay Nielsen illustration from “East of the Sun, West of the Moon”1914, via Brain Pickings.

‘And then she lay on a little green patch in the midst of the gloomy thick wood.’

As a lifelong lover of fairy tales & folk tales (quite literally, I have never grown out of my adoration for their magic and storylines ever). Like many others, I have been fascinated by the illustrations that have come to accompany theses tales in the past couple of centuries. How lucky we are in this way to have not only the tales, but books beautifully illustrated by visionary artists illuminating twists, turns, and the drama of these ancient stories.

One of my many favorites is the Danish genius of form & light, Kay Nielsen (1886 – 1957) who worked both in his native Denmark as well as the UK and the US in his career. He illustrated many books and set decorations, as well as his noted work for Disney, but today I am highlighting his unbelievably epic and lovely work in one book, “East Of The Sun, West Of The Moon”, (this version published in 1914)as it is staggering in its detail, drama and use of light and texture.

Following are some of my favorite examples from 3 pretty great sources: Brain Pickings, 50 Watts, and the Flickr feed of the National Library NZ on The Commons all of which are amazing resources and well worth your time and support.

Kay Nielsen illustration from “East of the Sun, West of the Moon”1914, via 50 Watts.

‘He too saw the image in the water; but he looked up at once, and became aware of the lovely Lassie who sat there up in the tree’.

 

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Illustration by Kay Nielsen in “East of the Sun and West of the Moon”, 1914, via National Library NZ on The Commons

‘On that island stands a church; in that church is a well; in that well swims a duck.’

 

Illustration by Kay Nielsen for “East of the Sun and West of the Moon”, 1914 via Brain Pickings

‘The King went into the Castle, and at first his Queen didn’t know him, he was so wan and thin, through wandering so far and being so woeful.’

 

Kay Nielsen illustration from “East of the Sun, West of the Moon”1914, via 50 Watts.

‘So the man gave him a pair of snow-shoes.’

Illustration by Kay Nielsen in “East of the Sun and West of the Moon”, 1914, via National Library NZ on The Commons

Illustration by Kay Nielsen in “East of the Sun and West of the Moon”, 1914, via National Library NZ on The Commons

‘He took a long, long farewell of the Princess, and when he got out of the Giant’s door, there stood the Wolf waiting for him.’

Published in 1914, this version of “East Of The Sun, West Of The Moon” marks a high point in the American era known as the Golden Age Of Illustration (roughly from the 1880’s through the early 1920’s). We will we publishing more posts from some of our favorites from that time in the near future. Thanks for reading & I hope that you enjoy!