Choosing a Stain, Museum vs Regular Glass, and Archival Matting
Framing has the power to elevate your artwork and transform it into a keepsake piece that you will treasure for years to come. Whether you are welcoming an heirloom piece into your own home to commemorate a special place or are gifting one to someone dear to celebrate life's most important moments, a professional frame that complements your artwork ensures that it not only looks timeless in your space but protects it so it can last for generations to come.
This is why in offering bespoke portraits, venue illustrations, house portraits, and bouquet paintings, I decided to partner with a local framer to offer professional framing services for all custom artwork. Based in the charming valley town of Dundas, Ontario, this framer puts so much care into each one of their hand-crafted frames. Each one is made uniquely for your artwork from Canadian-made wood with a lightly-textured, acid-free archival matte: a quality that you can feel as it provides the perfect complement to the delicate nature of each watercolour painting I create. I have learned so much from them and am always so in awe of their talent and attention to detail!
Whether you’re an artist yourself hoping to frame some of your pieces, have a special piece in your home that you would like to have professionally framed, or are hoping to create custom artwork together and are interested in framing but aren’t quite sure what the investment entails or which stain colour and glass you should choose, this blog post outlines everything you need to know!
What is an Archival Matte?
A matte is a border within your frame made from an ultra thick material. In my frames, I use a lightly-textured, acid-free matte with a warm white tone and luxurious feel, which is meant to pull the warm tones from your artwork. An acid-free matte is key because acidic paper yellows and becomes brittle over time, so having an archival-quality acid-free matte prevents signs of ageing.
While some frames do not have a matte, this element gives your piece a a more elevated professional, gallery-level look. In the art world, negative space (otherwise known as blank or white space) is actually just as important as positive space (the subject or focal point). This is because the eye needs to find a place to rest so it knows what to focus on! That means that having a matte will add to the overall appeal of your artwork and make it stand out even more!
Apart from this, a matte adds a softness to your piece that makes it look and feel more integrated with your space while making its details shine.
What wood stain should I choose?
There are endless wood stains and colour options available, but I personally only choose to offer three because I think a more neutral tone complements the softer look of watercolour perfectly. Plus, I think the natural tones honour the earthy feel of the wood texture. This natural veining adds a unique character, making each frame completely one-of-a-kind.
When I am choosing or recommending a stain for your frame, I look at three things:
1. The undertones in the paint colour and decor of your space
2. The undertones in your artwork
3. The level of contrast in your artwork (while some are more soft and muted, others have darker elements).
The most important things to note are whether your artwork is cool or warm-toned, whether your home decor is cool or warm-toned, and whether your artwork is soft in its colours or has more contrast with dark accents. Take a look at your space and the colours in your artwork: depending on your answers to those three questions, here are my recommendations for choosing a stain that best suits your piece and your space!
Earl Grey Latte
Earl grey latte is a cool-toned, soft brown with natural veining woven throughout. This stain pairs the best with spaces and subject matters that are cool-toned and have lower contrast. If you have blue-toned pinks, blues, purples, greys, and whites in your space or artwork, this frame will complement them well without overpowering their delicate nature!
Oat is a warm natural wood tone with a lightly-textured grain that looks very subtle and natural. This stain tends to pair best with artwork and spaces that are warm-toned and have more rustic details, with lots of natural wood tones throughout. If you have reds, yellows, oranges, browns, and cream/off-white tones in your space and artwork, this colour is a great way to bring out their golden undertones.
Poppyseed is a charcoal black with just enough softness to show the natural wood texture. This frame is not a true black, rather, it has some softness to it to avoid overpowering your artwork and its delicate nature. I think black frames are beautiful, but when working with watercolour, I am mindful that dark blacks tend to take away from your artwork. This stain is absolutely beautiful when paired with spaces and subject matter that have darker accents, decor, details, and paint colours, including black, dark greys, and jewel tones.
What If My Space is Cool-Toned and My Artwork is Warm-Toned (Or Vice Versa)?
I have run into a couple of cases where the space is cool-toned and the artwork is warm-toned or vice versa. In this case, I usually recommend going with earl grey latte if you’re looking for a natural wood tone because when it is next to warm-toned artwork or spaces, it will pull more warm tones, and when it is next to cool-toned spaces or artwork it will pull more cool tones. This makes it versatile enough to complement anything!
If you’re hoping for something more neutral, poppyseed is always a great option for fitting a variety of spaces with different tones!
Museum glass vs Regular glass
Once you have decided on your frame colour, the next thing to consider is the type of glass in your frame. This has a significant impact on how your artwork will look inside your frame!
Museum glass is an anti-glare glass that improves the clarity of your frame: almost as if there is barely glass there at all! This is especially notable in sunny spots: it virtually eliminates reflections. Because of this, it showcases the details and colours of your artwork incredibly well.
When you’re looking at framing artwork (especially highly detailed pieces), I think it’s always worth upgrading to museum glass. When you’re investing in a frame that is going to feature an heirloom piece of such an important milestone in your journey, this is something small you can do to make sure your artwork is presented in the best way possible.
Ordering Your Frame
If you’re interested in a custom art piece and hoping for more clarity on framing options, after you read this post and reflect on what kind of frame best suits your home and artwork, you can begin to build your frame by heading to the listing for the custom art piece you would like to book here.
Then, in the sidebar of the product page, build your custom frame by choosing your preferred stain, glass, and date you would like to book your illustration! From there, you will see the price increase/decrease depending on what framing options you choose (if any).
Once you place your order, it will be sent to both me and my framer so we can begin bringing your custom venue illustration, portrait, bouquet painting, house portrait, or storefront illustration to life!
If you have any questions about what frame you should choose, I am always here to make recommendations. Simply email me a photo of your space at email@example.com and I’m more than happy to help!