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What does a Picture Framer do?

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  • Written By: Judith Smith Sullivan
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2016
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A picture framer is a craftsman who frames documents, art, keepsakes, and other items for display. He or she may work for a framing workshop or crafts store or work freelance. There are several skills involved in picture framing, including aesthetic design, measuring and cutting materials, stretching canvas, and meeting with clients.

Picture framing is an unregulated profession, and most people who work in framing gain their skills through an apprenticeship or from taking classes. Community colleges, craft centers, and other educational facilities often offer framing workshops and classes. The Professional Picture Framer's Association, an international organization dedicated to high quality framing arts, offers two levels of certification in framing.

The day to day activities of a picture framer depend on the type of work to be completed. For a simple job, the picture framer starts by talking to the client. Often, a client has certain specifications, including the size of the overall work, and the color and style of the framing. The framer must take the clients desires into consideration while guiding their choices as well.

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For instance, the mat color should enhance the art without overwhelming it. The framer must distinguish the temperature of the dominant hue, whether it is cool or warm, and decide whether a tint or shade complements the overall color scheme. The style of the frame must also reflect the style of the artwork or item. An experienced picture framer is able to provide several color and style options to his or her client.

After meeting with the client, the framer must either assemble a pre-made picture frame or build a frame from wood molding. A pre-made frame is usually painted or stained, but if a framer builds the frame from scratch, he or she must also stain or paint it according to the client's specifications. If a custom mat is required, the framer must also cut the mat before attaching it with adhesive to the item which is to be framed. The framer may also have to attach glass to the frame as well as a dust cover.

Sometimes, three dimensional items, like books, baseballs, letters written on two sides, or dried flowers, are brought to a picture framer by a client. These are complicated requests that require a great degree of skill. A framer may have to use a shadow box, multiple frames with double glass sides and hinges, or a special type of display case to appropriately frame the item. A framer must still consult with the client and address their style, color, and size preferences.

Framers also work with artists to prepare supplies. One of the most common services provided by framers is canvas stretching. The picture framer builds the frame for the canvas, according to the size specifications of the artist, and fits, or stretches, the canvas over it. The artist uses the canvas as a surface for paintings and drawings.

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