Framing your artwork can often cost more than buying the art itself.  Be aware that framed work almost always costs more than unframed work for this very reason. It is important make sure you don’t damage or diminish the visual impact of your artwork by framing it wrong.  

You always to want to use archival framing materials to best ensure they don’t contain acids/materials that will destroy you art work overtime.  In many cases, you do not want the artwork to be flush against the glass/Plexiglas. So deciding how to “mat” the work is a very critical part of the presentation as is picking the type and color frame for the artwork.  Matching the frame and matt to the artwork is a concept I would avoid if at all possible.   Don’t frame a work to match a room- pick the frame and matt to enhance the artwork.

Never Use Plexiglass!

If the artwork is created with pastels, charcoal and/or any kind of powdery art material, you should NEVER use Plexiglas to frame it. You would need to use glass because Plexiglas has a tendency to have static electricity. Plexiglas, however, is a good option (if the works are not created out of a powdery art material) if you have active kids and/or if the work is going to be near a very active place in your home. You will need to buy a product that specifically cleans Plexiglas (never use glass cleaner on Plexiglas).

Sunlight is important to take into account when installing/placing artwork in your home.  Direct sunlight can damage many works of art (watercolors especially) via fading. I try to never place artwork in direct sunlight. Oil paintings and acrylic painting fair better usually, but again direct sunlight will cause artwork to fade over time.  Of note is that Plexiglas can be treated with an ultraviolet filter, which in turn would help to protect a work of art from light damage.

Steam and heat can also hurt art works (especially works on paper) by causing them to expand, buckle and/or to mold. Take special care if you are putting art in a bathroom.  Make sure there is proper air circulation. If you are placing work in the kitchen, be careful to avoid it being near a stove or other heat producing appliances.

Go to a Professional Framer

You can buy readymade frames and “pop” the artwork into it, but if you want to really protect the work for the long term, you should go to a frame shop. (Some frame shops let you do the framing on site, while others do it for you). If you are going this route of using a frame shop, I would recommend to have a wire on the back of the frame to hang the work with instead of eye hooks.  Also if you are on a budget let the framer know that well ahead of time, so they will be mindful of what they show you as framing and matting options.  Two places that I have used to frame my artwork are:?Fort Point Frames (great selection and staff) and the frame shop at the?Cambridge location of Artist & Craftsman Supply (they have a limited selection but it is a very good if you are on a tight  budget). I have included the contact info for these two businesses at the end of this article.  The framing process should be collaborative process between you and the frame shop owner/employee.

Once the work is framed, sitting and hanging it in your home is the next step. You will need a hammer, tape measure, pencil, a good eraser and painters tape.  Using the right hooks to hang artwork on your walls is critical. You don’t want to damage your walls whether you own your place or if you are a renter.  The hooks I recommend – as they don’t need to be anchored into a wall stud – are made by an company called OOK. They have a variety of types of hooks for every situation (kid safe hooks to hook for heavy mirrors/art).  The classic hangers are what I usually use. They also have their own youtube channel

How to Hang Artwork

There are several ways or styles to hang artwork.  I have grouped them into four options, but please be aware these are only suggestions and you should experiment as you see fit.  The four ways you can install art work:?1) group or cluster of several works together 2) salon style 3) double hang?the  work  4)   hang via a linear/horizontal line (this is the way it is most often installed in contemporary art galleries).  Please note since  you are hanging inside your house and not in a gallery setting 60″ as a midpoint may not be what you need to use as a guide point for hanging work in your house.
There is a great blog post on artist emerging that shows how to install salon style or grouping artwork? ?Another blog post that might be worth a peek:
And my favorite post I found so far: important tip on hanging is to remember to take down artwork on the walls when hanging new artwork on the same wall.  Banging new nails/hooks into the walls can and often does cause already hung work to fall off the wall.  The painter’s tape can be used to mark where the already hung work is if you are trying to measure where and how to put a new artwork next to or near an already installed artwork.
The most important thing is to have fun hanging your artwork and don’t be afraid to move/change where your artwork is in your house.

Framer Information

The contact info for the framers I have used:
Fort Point Framers?300 Summer Street, Boston, MA 02210?617.482.4685 ?
Artist & Craftsman Supply?Cambridge, MA?580 Massachusetts Ave.?Cambridge, MA 02139?Phone: 617.354.3636?Store Hours?M-Sa 9 AM – 7 PM?Su 12 PM – 6 PM?Frame Shop Hours?M-Sa 9 AM – 5 PM?Su 12 PM – 4 PM
© 2011 Kathleen Bitetti/