My Favorite Trick For Framing Art For Less Than $100

10:49 AM

If you’ve ever walked into a frame shop or waded through a sea of websites in search of a frame for your favorite piece of art, you’ve probably been a little shocked at the price tag; I’ve been there too. I am still shocked when I find that perfect molding only to see that the starting price for an 8x10in. is $64 and I need a 20x24in! Those prices go up fast. That’s not to say that sometimes you really do need that perfect frame that costs nearly as much as the art itself, a good frame can go a long way! Over the years, from gallery shows, to competition exhibits, to filling wall space in my home and others’ homes, I have found myself needing a lot of frames. Not having always had the budget for “a lot of frames,” and having expensive taste (sorry, Alex), I have found affordable options that don’t compromise quality and visual appeal.

The trick: 

1. Shop your local thrift stores or antique stores for a frame of any size that is bigger than the art you are framing. (I often check clearance sections at places like HomeGoods, too.) Another great place too look is Ebay and Etsy, but I find that the places in my local area have lower prices. If you don’t see any frames in local stores, be sure to ask! I recently went into an antique store looking for a frame only to find they didn’t have any; I asked the worker there if they ever get any in, and he said no. Two weeks later, I walked passed the same store only to see six beautiful antique frames in the windows. They were large, thick frames and all priced under $30!

2. The frame does not have to be empty, in fact, I have taken many old prints, cross stitchings from grandma, and even mirrors out of frames. Occasionally, if the shop is very small, I explain to whoever works there what I want to do with the frame and ask if I can leave the print or whatever is in the frame with them and get the frame for an even lower price.

3. Once you’ve found your perfect frame, take it to a local framer and ask them to cut it down to the size that fits your art. I have never been turned away, and once my framer (because I was in there often) cut it down for free. Typically, however, I find that framers will charge per cut: a low quote for this service (all four cuts and assembly) is $15 and a high quote is $50, in my opinion. 

4. Lastly, once you’ve found a framer to rebuild or resize your frame, sometimes they will “fit” it for free. “Fitting” just means putting your art in the frame. Sometimes the art is secured by hardware screwed in or flat nailed in, etc. If they charge you more than $15 for this service, however, It’s much more affordable to decline and fit the art yourself at home, while still leaving the frame to be resized. Craft stores, hardware stores, sometimes even the grocery stores, will have hardware for you to secure your art in a frame. (Tape and a piece of board works too, but you didn’t hear that from me!)

As a note: one of my favorite frames I’ve ever put on a piece of art I purchased at a tiny antique store for $10, and after all was said and done (aka after it had been to the framer) I hung a $34 frame that looked incredibly similar to the $160 frame I almost bought for the same painting. The painting went on to be a finalist in a gallery show (where frames really, really matter!). I hope you’ve found this helpful! Happy, affordable, and beautiful framing to us all!

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