#Art – Create to Frame

How to choose department store frames to exhibit your student artwork. If you are doing art school save money. Get savvy. Create to frame!

The goal for this post is for you to try out creating your artwork so that it will easily fit into a standard frame. A frame from a department store. The example here is framing a 12 x 12 painting.

Department store frame with custom mat

I could cry when I think of the amount of expensive custom frames I’ve had made up in my days as an art student. This was all because I created artworks that didn’t look right in standard size frames. For an art student that’s ‘flat out rubbing two sticks together’ framing is a necessity rather than a luxury.

Think neat and tidy.

Think neutral tones so that you can use and reuse the frame/s for various presentations.

Think about something that scrubs up well in your student exhibition. Are you better to have 3 or 4 the same size and colour so that they can be grouped together?

Department store frames

  1. Go and measure the size of standard frames available at any large department store.
  2. Measure the space available on the inside of the mat surround to decide how much space you have available for doing your artwork.

Confused? Well we are visual. Buy one. That way you can take it home, take out the mat at your own leisure to make sure it will be fine but first…

Buyer beware

But before you buy you need to do the following.

  1. Is it wood?
  2. Hooks? Flip the frame over to see how you can attach hooks or if it already has some. Remember the quality may not be the same in some frames. Don’t assume that hooks will take. Try D ring hooks from your local art supplier.
  3. Check the weight. You don’t want it too heavy as you don’t know what sort of hooks you will be using when it is attached on the wall..
  4. Put it face up on the floor to make sure it is flat.
  5. Check each corner and make sure it is flush and nicely joined.
  6. Closely inspect the paintwork to make sure it is undamaged.
  7. I use glass for A3, A4 or A5 or smaller
  8. Perspex for larger works A2 A1 or AO as it is lighter

Make yourself a cardboard frame

Make yourself a cardboard frame now you have the dimensions. Once made up place the cardboard frame over your piece of paper. Tape it down lightly with masking tape at the top so it is easy to lift off when you’re finished. At art school we had MDF board that we used to lean on. you could also attach it to that.

Having a cardboard frame also helps to not get the edges of the paper dirty. You can lean on the cardboard if you need.

Art school is a great place to explore and create. The practical side of things sometimes is the last thing we think about. Creating works suitable to fit in standard size frames from the department store makes a cost effective option. When you are preparing to have your artwork marked or exhibited at your student art show get savvy. Create to frame!



Flat out rubbing two sticks together – struggling to make ends meet. This may be an Australian idiom or saying. No reference to it online. I have used the term all my life. When we were children we were in scouts and girl guides. When we went on Jamborees they tried to teach us how to rub two sticks together to start a fire. It took ages and was really hard work to get anywhere. I can see the imagery working well with this saying.

art, Dee Grant art, frames, budget, phrases and sayings, idiom,

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