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Picture Frame

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A picture frame is a container added to a picture to enhance it, make it easier to display or protect.

Construction

Picture frames have traditionally been made of wood, which is still the most common and most prestigious material, although other materials are also used, including aluminum, plastics or polystyrene, even sea shells. A picture frame may be of any colour or texture, but gilding is common, especially on older frames. Some picture frames have elaborate mouldings which may relate to the subject matter. Complicated older frames are often made of moulded and gilded plaster over a plain wood base.

The picture frame may contain a pane of glass or a plastic glass substitute such as Plexiglas, to protect the picture. In some instances where the art in the frame is dispensable or durable, no protection may be necessary. Glass is common over watercolours, rare over oil paintings, except very valuable ones in some museums. Glass may be treated with coatings, the most common being UV filters. Some glazings such as Denglas, Optium, and Museum glass have a coating which makes the glass partially nonreflective and practically invisible under ideal lighting conditions.
The elaborate decoration on this frame may well be applied plaster pieces stuck to the wood beneath

For pieces to be framed under glass, except for the most disposable and inexpensive posters or temporary displays, the glass must be raised off the surface of the paper. This is done by means of matting, a lining of plastic “spacers”, shadowboxing, stacking two mouldings with the glass in between, and various other methods. If the paper (or other media) were to touch the glass directly, any condensation inside the glass would absorb directly into the art, having no room to evaporate. This is harmful to almost any medium. It causes art sticking to the glass, mildew, and other ill effects. Raising the glass is also necessary when a piece is done in a loose media such as charcoal or pastel, to prevent smudging. Care should be taken with these works, however, if Plexiglas is used as a static charge can build up which will attract the pigment particles off the paper. Using real glass helps to prevent this.

Certain kinds of pieces do not usually need glass when framed, including paintings done in acrylic or oil paint (the former is usually waterproof; the latter actually needs to “breathe” due to the decades-long drying process), stained glass or tiles, and laminated posters. These kinds of pieces are still sometimes put under glass though if for example, they are framed using mats, or (in the case of oil paintings) they are kept in a carefully climate-controlled environment.

The frame along with its mounts should complement and project the artwork, art work framed incorrectly will not be shown to its full potential.

History

One of the earliest frame examples was a discovery made in an Egyptian tomb dating back to 2nd century A.D. in which a fayum mummy portrait was discovered at Hawara still within its wooden frame. This finding suggests the mummy portraits may have been hung in the owners’ homes prior to inclusion within the funerary equipment. The portrait and its frame were most likely preserved by the desert climate, according to frame historian and installation expert Marilyn Murdoch explained in a historical talk to museum docents.

Although framing borders in ancient art were used to divide scenes and ornamentation by ancient Egyptian and Greek artists in pottery and wallpaintings, the first carved wooden frames as we know them today appeared on small panel paintings in twelfth and thirteenth century Europe. According to a historical series published in Picture Frame Magazine, these early “framed panel paintings were made from one piece. The area to be painted was carved out, leaving a raised framing border around the outside edge, like a tray. The whole piece was then gessoed and gilded. Painting the image on the flat panel was the last thing to be done.”

When it was realized this method of producing a frame and the image within in one slab of wood was too costly, “a more efficient method was eventually developed which used mitered moulding strips. These strips were attached to a flat wooden panel which produced a similar result to the carved panel, but were more cost effective. This type of frame is known as an engaged frame. The early ones were made of simple wooden moulding strips attached to the outside edge of a wooden panel.”

Throughout the 14th and 15th centuries, most European frames were church-commissioned and largely unmovable as they were altarpieces and a large part of the church’s architecture. The frames were ornamented with architectural elements mimicking the exteriors of the great cathedrals. However the Renaissance of 14th and 15th century Italy saw the rise of arts patrons extending beyond the church. Wealthy nobles such as the Medici family could now bring art and frames into their estate by commissioning allegorical, devotional and portrait paintings.[4] This was the advent of the portable or moveable frame.

Styles

“L”-style frames are a simple variety that are constructed with a single L-shaped border of wood, with the bottom part of the L, or rabbet, at the front of the frame to hold in the glass, object and backing, which are secured in from the back.

A photo cube is a special type of picture frame, often used to show members of a family, a vacation, or a timeline of someone’s life.

Other styles are clip frames(not really a frame at all) , box frames and shadow boxes. A digital photo frame is an example of the changing technology of the 21st century.

Macaroni picture frames are a popular craft project for children. Uncooked pasta in various shapes are glued to a frame in a pattern. Sometimes the entire frame is painted.

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Written by Dimas A. Nugroho

November 29, 2009 at 11:11 am

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