What is a Large Canvas Frame?

How large canvas frames are made; where and how to hang large canvas frames; what materials are used and techniques that are applied to ensure your high quality art is perfectly framed and properly protected.

In this post we are going to talk about large canvas frames: how large canvas frames are made; where and how to hang large canvas frames; what materials are used and techniques that are applied to ensure your high-quality art is perfectly framed and properly protected.

Let Harten frame your world…

“The beauty of art ~can have~ so much more to do with the frame.”

Chuck Palahniuk, Choke

Introduction: What is a large canvas frame?

large canvas frame is usually for art that breaks free of standard sizes and conventions. During the Renaissance period, painting was done on wooden panels but today oil, as well as acrylic painting, is generally done on canvas. This is because canvas can be stretched across wooden bars, allowing you to create larger paintings that are also portable. Creating art on a typical canvas to fit a standard size frame is a bit like the tail wagging the dog, isn’t it? Where art leads the frame should follow.

“Frame the moment, give it our full attention, savour and hold it.”

Louisa Thomsen Brits, The Book of Hygge

Who uses large canvas frames?

It’s usually artists with no fear or constraints that create oversized pieces of art. And also commissioned by art lovers with big spaces who buy large pieces of art. Why worry whether your artistic vision will fit into a prescribed, formulaic frame.

Think big. Trust your muse and rest assured that the finished canvas will fit into your large, custom built frame without having to crop any off to fit conventional frame sizing norms.

We work with and provide frames for the following sectors:

How to choose the right frame

Framing is an art on its own and selecting the right frame can bring your painting to life. The different styles and types of frames are endless, but you need to bear in mind that the frame and the painting are viewed together; therefore, they must complement each other.

“Ensure that pieces are framed correctly and mounted securely.”

Tips for Preserving Fine Art to Obtain the Best Art Insurance Premium (frontrowinsurance.com)

How to frame oversized artwork

When you’re looking for the ideal picture frame, size really isn't an issue for us; we offer custom frames in most sizes. We recommend one that matches your style and complements the piece to be framed. And remember: size equals weight – so a little extra support in the frame can prove useful.

See some of our frames here Custom Picture Frames For Special Artwork / Harten Frameworks

To decrease the weight of the finished picture frame and make it easier to hang, choose acrylic instead of glass. We offer a range of acrylic options that includes non-glare, heavy-duty, and UV-protective styles. It’s a lightweight, shatter-proof plastic with the same clarity as glass, and so has widely replaced glass as standard.

How Harten make a large canvas frame

We regularly work with pieces several metres in height and width that require detailed planning, high quality materials and skilled construction. We have developed a specialism in oversize frames since moving to our new studio and workshop.

Bespoke, handmade frames present unique challenges and manufacturing considerations to our skilled framers, when constructing to conservation standard. Even the machinery needed is of a specialist nature for oversized picture framing.

Harten are… “The only museum quality framers we’ve found outside London.”

Chris Brooks, Gallery Owner

The increased weights of oversized frame materials and inherent fragility mean construction techniques have to be adapted and engineered for strength. The addition of a support frame and cross bracing is often needed.

Many material options are available including acrylics, glass, hand finished woods and metals. Our team hand-craft wooden frames from a range of species including beech, oak, walnut, rock maple, ash, cherry and pine. We’ve also developed a range of custom made metal frames, with our team now welding bespoke aluminium and brass frames to suit a number of different shapes and styles.

Harten offer a wide range of customised finishes to your choice of frame including:

  • Burn Back - giving wood a deep texture and aging effects.

  • Corten - resulting in a natural rust, sealed with clear lacquer.

  • Gesso - which can be applied to wood, metal and paper mounts.

  • Gilded - using leafs including gold, silver, bronze, copper and aluminium.

  • Hand Painted - and enhanced by stippling, veiling, patination and distressing.

  • Sprayed - to provide a contemporary museum quality to any artwork.

  • Stained - to enhance grain, add colour and even out natural surfaces.

Trust Harten to make your art a head-turning, attention-grabbing statement

How to hang large wall art and frames

Hanging oversized art calls for a slightly different approach to standard sized art. For larger, oversized and heavy pieces, it’s best to anchor your hanging hook directly to a wall stud. To counter possible incidental contact, a split batten / cleat hanger system should be used.

Christie’s sets the bar quite high and has some really useful tips here How to hang paintings: Everything you need to know | Christie's (christies.com)

Where to hang a large piece of artwork

Wherever you want to! You really can hang a large piece of art on any wall. The key is to keep the surroundings simple, leaving your art to make the grandest statement. All will feel welcomed into your home with a show stopping focal point in a hallway.

Highlight a less-noticeable wall with good lighting and a dramatic centrepiece – or define your main wall with an artistic spectacle. If it fits, and you like it there, then let it be.

If you’re starting out with a blank space, let your large wall art set the tone for the rest of the room. If refreshing an area in your home, decide which accents in the room work best for your oversized art – and remove the rest.

If the interior design is made to be complementary and draws the eye to the statement piece, your entire space will feel well balanced, inspired and and skillfully curated.

Check out some of our ideas in this blog Box picture frames for wall design / Harten Frameworks

What height should I hang large artwork?

A good rule is to hang your large wall art so that the centre of the piece is approximately 48-56 inches from the floor. Also consider where the viewer will be: mostly sitting? Standing? For dining or living rooms, consider lowering by a few inches so that the top of the piece isn’t out of sight when sat down. If the artwork is positioned over a sofa or table, we’d suggest that the bottom of the frame begin at least 6-12 inches above the sofa back or tabletop.

Where to hang large art on a staircase wall

Hanging a large piece of art in stairways has become increasingly popular. Here are two tips on where to hang in this transition space: Aim for about eye-level. Stand on the centre step halfway up and look straight at the wall, and using a pencil or a piece

of tape, mark the point directly in front of your line of vision. If there’s a stud in the centre area, it may be ok to compromise spacing slightly to hang directly onto the stud.

Who are Harten Frameworks?

Harten hand makes bespoke box and tray frames of any size, to conservation level, in wood, welded aluminium, and colour-enhancing acrylic.

From designed and engineered frames in woods, metals and acrylics, to surface finishes, printed and stretched canvases. Since 1974, Harten - a third generation family business - have expertly created bespoke, contemporary frames to any size and brief, from their highly specialised, state of the art studio and workshops at the Adelphi Mill in Bollington, Cheshire.

Quick guide to large picture framing terms

Here are some of the main terms that are often used in the world of large picture framing:

● Allowance

This provides extra space in the widths and lengths of the frame to make sure that all the items that go into the frame will have an excellent fit. The allowance provides space for the expansion and contraction of the paper-based materials in response to changes in temperature and to humidity.

● Backing

Also called the mounting board, this is where the picture is attached before it is placed inside the frame. The backing works to keep the work in place and to prevent it from creasing and warping.

● Beveling

This refers to a slope at the edge of the frame and mat board. For the mat board, the slope rises from the inside to the outside, exposing the core of the mat board. This creates another line around the edges, adding visual impact and drawing the eye.

● Cardstock

This is specialised craft paper that is thicker and stiffer than standard paper. This can serve as the backing of the picture to prevent it from buckling.

● Foam core

This is an acid-free and conservation friendly backing alternative to cardstock. This is light but strong enough to hold the picture.

● Frame size

When choosing a frame size, remember that this refers to the frame’s inside opening and not the outer edges of the frame. When calculating the right frame size, consider the largest opening you will need to reveal the picture or the outermost matting, if any.

● Glazing

This is the transparent layer of glass or acrylic that covers the top of the picture. The glazing serves to protect the artwork from the elements. Glazing can also offer UV protection and anti-glare benefits.

● Hinging

This is one way of attaching a picture onto the mounting board. This involves the use of adhesive strips or tape in a way that the tape is not visible and the artwork hangs free to expand and contract as it reacts to humidity and temperature.

● Lip

This refers to the picture frame’s inner edge. The lip prevents the glazing and other components of the frame from falling out. The lip also serves to hide the rebate. The lip can be beveled or ornamented.

● Matting

This layer of board comes with a frame opening that offers the viewer a “frame within a frame”. The matting board also works to keep the picture from coming into contact with the glass.

● Mounting

This implies adhering a picture to a backboard. There are three main techniques: 

  1.  The picture is completely adhered to the board using the dry-mount process.

  2. The print is held in place on the board with photo corners.

  3. The print is held into place at points with hinge mounts. 

Mounting the picture asks the viewer to consider the image more as an object and as a substantial artwork.

● Rebate

This is the space under the inner lip that holds the glazing, matting, picture, mounting board and backing. When purchasing a picture frame, take note of the rebate depth to ensure that all the components fit inside the frame.

● Spacer

These are thin and clear plastic strips that add some space between the artwork and the glass. This is placed on the lips of the frame. The gap the spacers make enables any moisture that enters the frame to dry out without causing any damage to the picture.

● Weighting

To add more drama to matting, one can have a matting board with a bottom that is wider than the other three sides.