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Ten Tips for Framing and Displaying Pictures

  1. Collections of small pictures and photographs. Unless they are a set of prints, group them as a cluster on the wall. Lay them out on the floor first until you have a pleasing arrangement. It doesn't matter if they aren't all framed in the same moulding. This creates visual interest.
  2. Larger Pictures. These are centre pieces and should be left with plenty of space. Don't crowd your main pictures with little satellite frames, let them dominate part of the room.
  3. Don't hang 'em high. An imaginary line through the middle of the picture should be at roughly eye level. But if it is a study or sitting room, where mostly you are seated, then keep the picture level a little lower. This is the case in children's bedrooms too.
  4. If dampness is a problem, attach a thin section of wine-bottle cork to the bottom corners of the frame to keep it out from the wall and allow air to circulate. This is useful on a solid outer wall which is more likely to be damp. You can also use a pellet of blu-tack. Either method helps keep your picture straight on the wall.
  5. Style. While it is okay to have frames of different colours and widths, try to keep the style consistent in a room, be it contemporary or more traditional. Decide which matches for your style of furnishings and stick with it.
  6. Original Art should not be hung in hot or humid conditions. Try to avoid open fires, uncovered radiators or bathrooms as moisture, fluctuating temperature and direct sunlight all can cause damage. Use cheaper posters and prints in these circumstances.
  7. Non reflective or ordinary picture glass? Non reflective is fine where there is a single mat (mount) or none, but needs to be close to the picture surface or it will make the image fuzzy. It will cut down reflection when pictures are hung opposite a light source but it is a little more expensive and not so pleasant to see through. So for most situations use 2mm.clear picture glass.
  8. Mats or Mounts. These keep the glass off the picture which prevents damage form condensation occurring on the inside of the glass. This can ruin photographs and original art. Ask for conservation mats on original art as this board is acid-free and will not cause damage over time. Older boards can cause acid burns- brown stains around the edge of a picture where mat and picture have been in contact. They should be replaced.
  9. Colour. Choosing mats and frames is not difficult at a reputable framers where staff will advise. You may not want a landscape framed all in green or a seascape in blue but often a secondary colour used in the picture will give a starting point. When redecorating, you may be able to revamp your mats at little cost to refresh an old picture.
  10. If a picture or print is rippled, this can usually be remedied by drymounting - a process of gluing under heat and pressure. As this method is permanent and irreversible, it should not be used for valuable items but it can make a dramatic improvement to rolled up posters and holiday caricatures.


Tony Robinson, Pigyard Art Gallery Ireland - copyright 2006

Tony is owner of Pigyard Gallery, a highly respected art gallery in Wexford, Ireland. He is also an expert framer, commended by the Fine Art Trade Guild.

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