URBANARA

Mark Blackburn, professional framer

WWhen it comes to showing off artwork in your home, the right frame can be hard to decide on – but it doesn’t have to be. The final interview in our art series, we caught up with our Berkshire based frame supplier Mark Blackburn to learn what to look for when choosing frames and his best tips for hassle-free hanging.

What’s the best way to choose the right frame? Should the style of the artwork match?

When choosing a frame, the two important things to consider are what you’re framing and where you’re putting it.

You have to make sure that the subject and style of the frame work together: modern art will look better in a clean smooth finish, in a black or white frame when compared to a more traditional frame. Colour is another important factor to consider, not just in terms of the content and the frame, but also where the frame will finally be hung. You don't have to perfectly match the colour of the artwork, frame and interior, just ensure they create a harmonious whole.

Our frame options range from traditional to modern – the Osborne ash frame is a mix of old and new with its beautiful grained finish and modern presentation, whereas the Osborne smooth frame offers a slightly more modern look.

Framed work looks beautiful on the walls at home, but how it is positioned on the wall has a big impact. What tips do you have for arranging frames at home?

In our experience, hanging a new painting or framed print is always more fun when done in a team. You will need those extra hands, and a second opinion never goes amiss.

Composition and layout are essential, so before you even begin to think of drilling a hole in the wall, bring out the framed picture, lay it against the wall and stand back. Take a minute to absorb its presence in its new environment. This is especially helpful if you are hanging more than one picture. Space them all out and take your time. This is an excellent way to visualize what your picture will look like on the wall.

Now make some adjustments, let your helper lift the picture into position and do some experimenting. As a rule, avoid hanging your picture above or below eye level, and don’t hang a tiny picture on a massive wall or a large picture on a small wall. If you are hanging a picture above a table, bed or sofa, remember the eye level rule and don’t hang it too high.

If you are hanging a selection of smaller pictures, arrange them on the floor first to get that perfect composition. Measure, measure, and measure again. Once you have found that perfect spot, you can mark down the height and corners of your picture against the wall with a pencil. Alternatively cut out a template of your frame using craft paper (if you don’t have any on hand, use some old wrapping paper). You can use this template to stick on the wall, get your measurements and find the perfect composition. This method will work especially well if you are working alone or if you hanging a lot of smaller frames. Also don’t forget to look at where lights switches and plug sockets are located, making sure you are not going to drill into areas where there are likely to be wires.

Avoid hanging your picture above or below eye level, and don’t hang a tiny picture on a massive wall or a large picture on a small wall.

Your frames are handmade in-house with strong attention to detail. Can you take us through what is involved in producing each frame?

Each frame begins its life on a list together with the many other frames we make each day. Our in-house framers will then determine how much moulding is needed and will hand pick each piece from the stockroom. All the mouldings are laid out on large bench and inspected for damage and imperfections. When an imperfection is discovered the area will be marked off with masking tape. When the moulding is being cut into lengths the operator can then determine what the best yield would be for each length by looking for the highlighted areas. This process helps us not only to control the quality of our frames but also greatly reduce the amount of waste produced.

It's then time to underpin our frames. The operator will lay out all four lengths of each frame next to each other and the corners of black or dark frames will be stained with a matching colour. Next they will apply wood glue to each corner before placing the lengths on the underpinning machine to pin the corners together.

The frames are finished and cleaned, checked again to make sure they are perfect and taken to the production area to meet the artwork they will house.

I understand that you source sustainable resources wherever possible and recycle any waste. Can you tell us a little more about what role sustainability plays in your daily work?

We recognise that the world’s resources are not limitless, and therefore accept a social and moral responsibility for putting into place environmentally friendly measures which go beyond legislative requirements. We are extremely efficient and maximise material, which in turn minimises waste. We have a responsibility to recycle as much as we possibly can, as well as making sure our materials are obtained from sustainable resources where possible.

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