Contract framers are usually large scale picture framers who manufacture frames in a factory like environment. Most picture framers are fairly small organisations comprising one or two members of staff and are unable to meet large scale production demands.
This is where contract framers come in, a contract framer is a picture framer who can handle larger production schedules and can manufacture picture frames and photo frames to any shape or size.
Because of their larger buying power and the increased production facilities the price is often a lot less than your ‘high street framer’. Most frame manufacturers can make frames in a variety of different woods and/or metals. They should have experience of each stage of the production process and can often help out in the initial design and planning stages.
A lot of contract picture framers offer a ‘fitting service’ too – where your own artwork (be it photo’s, prints or original art) is fitted into the frames as they are made. The benefits of having your images fitted by professional framers are huge, each frame is perfect, there are no bits under the glass and no scuffs or scrapes anywhere on the frame. Often framers will seal the back of the frame with a protective tape.
Plastic frames and MDF frames are often cheaper than their wooden or metal counterparts. They are fine if the frames are for short or temporary use but if you want a long lasting frame that will look good on your customers walls for years to come then you can’t beat wooden frames.
The term ‘contract’ in ‘contract picture framing’ is often misleading. There are not always real contracts to sign just simply orders that are placed, and frames that are manufactured. Simple as that!
When the picture is just a photo or print a decision can be made to trim the picture down to fit the frame. If the picture has either monetary or sentimental value trimming it may not be an option and you should seek professional advice about making a new frame for the picture.
If the picture is a print or photograph on paper or mounted to a flat backing board you can accurately measure and mark where you need to cut the picture down and then trim it using a sharp craft knife and a straight edge. A normal picture frame rebate is usually cut with a small allowance of 2mm to make fitting the glass, picture and backing easy. When you are measuring the picture make sure you cut it smaller than the tight rebate size to a allow for the expansion and contraction of the paper over time. It is always advisable to place the straight edge over the picture aligning it with the inside of the line you want to cut along. That way if you slip with the knife the picture is protected and you will cut into the waste section. Trim the picture in several passes gradually cutting through the board or paper.
If the picture you are framing is a stretched canvas and the frame is smaller than the painting you have three options to consider. You could remove the canvas from the stretcher and then cut the stretcher frame down to fit the outer frame and then re-stretch the painting. Another alternative that could be used if the frame is only slightly smaller than the painting is to make the rebate in the frame larger. To make the rebate larger you can use a router but a quick method for small adjustments is to trim the rebate out with a craft knife. Make two cuts with the craft knife, one parallel to the face of the frame using the existing rebate as a guide and then cut down at 90 degrees from the back of the frame. This requires several cuts gradually working down and cutting out a small rectangular section to make the rebate wider. This is a simple technique when the timber is soft but can be difficult when it is hardwood. The third option is to make a new frame the right size.
Sometimes the cost saving of buying a cheap ready-made picture frame, that is nearly the right size, is easily diminished by the added expenses of trimming, mat cutting or re-stretching as outlined above.