Things to Consider for Oversized Artwork
As art gets bigger, there are more things you need to consider such as structure, glazing and fixings.
The bigger a frame gets, the more structure it needs within the frame, and further limitations need to be considered.
When we get enquiries about bigger oversized frames, it can sometimes be a lot of information to take in when we are walking through the options available.
This article is to help you plan what you need for your art and explain some of the options available to you. This is not an exhaustive list and if you’ve got a project that falls out of this remit - we have a wealth of experience to help achieve your vision, contact us for a chat.
Saatchi Recommends art to cover between two-thirds and three-quarters of available wall space. So when it comes to big walls, you’ll need larger art (and larger frames) to ensure you get the right look.
Embroidery by Louise Gardiner- https://www.lougardiner.co.uk/ , displayed at Saatchi London, Framed By Harten.
Why would large artwork need to be (re)framed?
A frame may need to be re-framed for several reasons including;
Style change, possibly due to new artwork placement.
requiring added protection - such as a sturdier subframe or museum-grade glazing.
The new owner wants to match it to a collection.
Broken, damaged or dated existing frame.
If the frame is broken great care must be taken to ensure that the artwork isn't damaged; in these cases, we offer to collect the artwork so our specialist team can ensure the artwork has no accidental damage in transit.
For more information on our oversized frames - https://www.harten.co.uk/framing/oversized/
When it comes to large artwork, it could be made on countless types of media, but the most common in our opinion are canvas and paper.
Acrylic paint is the most common; Oil paints are great as well(especially the vibrancy of the colours) but command a higher price for materials. Canvasses are generally stretched onto a stretcher frame before painting, so a tray frame style is ideal to make sure the frame does not obstruct any of the artwork.
The world's largest canvas painting is a 17,000 square foot painting called ‘The Journey Of Humanity’ by Sacha Jafri, which took him more than 6 months to complete and sold for $62 million at auction.
An easily accessible medium that is commonly used for drawings, watercolour or any number of other paints. The nature of the frame will depend on size, however, if it is a large piece of art, a subframe will be used which will help support the weight and any glazing.
Large Art Placement
Where you will install the artwork also needs considering, if it is in a high-traffic area, glazing needs to be considered. If it is near any sort of natural light, we would recommend UV protection museum-grade glass to protect the artwork.
Depending on the proposed location you need to install the artwork, there are several options for protection which need to be built into the frame. These can include;
UV/glare protection glazing - if your artwork is exposed to any natural light - this is highly advisable
Security installation points - built into the frame, this allows fixings such as T-bolts to prevent unauthorised removal. This type of fixing is ideal for any public area or museum.
Humidity regulation - this can help prevent any buildup of moisture that can either damage the artwork itself or encourage mould growth on the work or frame. A few reasons why you may want to consider this is;
If the artwork uses fragile or humidity-sensitive paints.
If the art is being installed in, or transported through, high-humidity environments.
Spacers - This is standard with any of our box frames and prevents the glazing from coming into contact with the face of the artwork, which could cause damage over time.
Installation and Maintenance
When thinking of where a frame is going to be installed, thought needs to go into placement from the installation and maintenance standpoint.
In regards to installation, that is a one-time operation. However, if scaffolding is needed this will increase the cost, as will security fitting frames. Most of us think about the perfect place without considering this - but a cursory thought could prevent last-minute rushing to clear a room etc.
For most frames, there is little to no maintenance required, however, cleaning should be thought about if the frame is hard to access. As will all our frames - care should be taken to ensure no harsh chemicals are used which could damage or remove any protective films from the glazing.
There is a balance when it comes to bigger frames that have to be carefully considered depending on the artwork, the setting where it will be hung and the tradeoff when it comes to the weight of the frame.
All larger frames need a subframe to strengthen the frame and provide rigidity to the artwork. Without a subframe on a larger piece of artwork, the piece may warp and the frame is at risk of damage under the stress.
When hanging larger artwork, the best way we have found is to build a split baton into the frame, which enables the artwork to be easily and sturdily installed in a location.
As the frame gets bigger, it needs a more engineered structure to ensure rigidity. To strengthen the frame on larger frames we make a subframe that is securely fixed into the frame.
The subframes that we make are usually made from tulipwood or birch plywood, this is because of their strong, close-grained and straight properties which make them ideal.
The subframe isn’t visible from the front, it is behind the artwork and its sole purpose is to strengthen the frame, however, it does make it easier to use split battens, making it simpler for the installation team to install on location.
Frame Materials for Larger Frames
Wood is an extremely versatile material for frames as there is so much you can do with it, from treating, painting or advanced techniques such as gesso.
The great thing about metal frames are their strength, which makes it possible to have thin, crisp frames even for larger artwork.
Slightly different from the other materials for frames, as well as glazing we use acrylic to make box frames. Acrylic box frames are great for 3d items where you want to see all aspects. In an acrylic box frame, all sides and front of the frame are made from acrylic, this way it delivers unparalleled views of what you’re framing. From an antique vase to a football shirt, or even a wedding dress, acrylic box frames are a great option for presenting and protecting such items.
The trade-off with the glazing is the weight addition against protection, as well as the risk of breaking and strength. With glass, the larger the artwork, the higher quality glass is required. When it comes to glass (or any glazing), the weight needs to be thought of as with bigger frames, the glass can greatly increase the weight of the whole piece, which could be a concern when it comes to hanging.
Alternatively, acrylic can be used and helps prevent the obvious risk of shattering, however, the weight still needs to be thought about.
Another recent example of where glazing is paramount is the activists that threw soup over a Van Gogh at the national gallery in London. Luckily the painting had museum grade glass glazing, otherwise there would no doubt be damage to the painting worth over £70 million.
When thinking about glazing for frames, glass is the type you would initially think of, and for good reason. Glass can be great glazing for artwork, especially if you choose a type with anti-reflective properties or UV protection.
Acrylic can be a good option for glazing, as it is lighter than glass and is more durable. If your artwork is displayed in a public area acrylic glazing should be considered to prevent accidental damage that smashed glass may cause. You can specify non-reflective UV protection for acrylic glazing however this can drive up the price quite a lot
For some types of frames, you may consider not including any glazing, we see this most often on canvasses in tray frames. With no glazing, there are unparalleled views of the artwork, the frame can be considerably cheaper and lighter. If the artwork is being installed in a busy or public area we would discourage this option. Due to the exposed nature of no protective glazing, the artwork can be affected by knock, scratches, and UV and humidity damage, so this needs to be carefully considered.
Frame Styles For Large Art
With a larger frame, there is still a vast amount of choice to customise your art’s look. Here are some options for styling larger or oversized frames.
Thin frames can look good on oversized artwork, however, the bigger it gets the more materials to need to be considered. If you want large and thin, then a metal frame may be the answer due to the strength of the material.
Painted Large Frames
We regularly paint frames to specification, most commonly using our dedicated spray room, ensuring an even coat, however, there are other ways we paint frames;
Patina - Metal wash to create an aged look
Wood stain - Type of paint used to colour wood
Oil Gilding - using an oil based glue to adhere (usually) gold leaf
Water Gilding - applies (usually) gold leaf to a frame.
Gesso - A glue and chalk mixture used to further shape frames.
You pick which colour or scheme you want, and we’ll make it.
Metal Frames For Large Art
Welded metal frames can be painted to specification. We weld all metal frames for our clients in our metal workshop, each frame is made specifically for a piece of art.
Bringing it together
Although framing large art is similar to any other framing, there are some additional structural and protection options. When a large frame comes together, it creates fantastic results in complimenting the artwork.
We are seeing more and more galleries and buyers expecting higher-quality framing. There is a spectrum of quality when it comes to framing, from inexpensive ready-made frames from Ikea to conservation-level framing with built-in protections for the artwork. With higher-value artwork, you will want higher-quality framing to further protect the art. That is why some galleries are starting to require specialist framing before display for sale. There is an assumed minimum quality for each price level, and not including that quality can affect the sale price as well as protection. In other words, the frame is a factor that is looked at when a buyer or gallery considers a price.
We frame for world-leading artists, having our frames across the globe - our frames have showcased art in galleries and auction houses such as Sotheby's and museums such as Saatchi, Royal Academy exhibition and The Foster in San Jose, America.
Get in touch to have a chat about how we can help with your project.