How To Get Your Framing Done Cheap…er

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With so many framed paintings in our home, I have found it essential to figure out how to get my pictures framed without breaking my budget. I have learned some fabulous tricks. And this is the time of year to frame something, if you need it done.

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Right now, Michael’s is doing their annual “Save 60% + an additional 15% off” of their custom framing prices (you can download your coupon by going to the site this week and clicking on coupons). Now, don’t get me wrong. The prices that they start with are very high and obviously meant for a discount. Their typical discount is 60%, sometimes as low as 50%. But I hoard all of my pieces that need custom framing for November. Because this coupon is as low as it is going to go.

I have formed a relationship with the framers at my local Michael’s store. It is where I choose to go. I trust them with my art.

But do you have to stick to Michael’s?

Absolutely not. I know most chain stores that have a framing department will match competitor’s coupons. I would also highly recommend looking into a local mom and pop framing store. Sometimes, that is the cheapest way to go. The local framers I loved went out of business six years ago, so I have had to learn how to play the pricing game with the big stores. However, before they went out of business, it was much cheaper for me to frame my pieces there without a coupon.

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What if that is still too expensive? Well, I have a few secrets. No coupon needed. Because you can’t use the coupon for my following advice:

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You can just put your art into a regular wall frame. You can do this as long as it is flat paper. Canvas will obviously not work here. This is the cheapest way to do it. I usually toss the matte the frame comes with or get a custom matte made for it ( more on this further down). This particular dragon painting was purchased on Etsy from LukaLuka. I actually kept the matte it came with. This was less than $15 to frame (sale price).

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You can also use a regular picture frame for a canvas piece. This small little painting was framed in a regular 5 X 7 frame. I believe the frame itself was purchased on sale for $7. Michael’s did the backing for me. I do not think that cost more than $10 (my memory is fuzzy, but it was very inexpensive).

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The custom framing department will put your art piece or picture into any frame. That is right: A tabletop frame, a regular picture frame, a backless frame, an antique frame. And it is much, much cheaper than custom framing. My daughter painted this piece for me three Christmases ago. It is a backless frame that I purchased on sale and they popped it in and did the backing for me.

The piece you are framing just has to fit inside of it. And this is a great way to get your canvas paintings framed cheaper. They will build you a custom backing with a wire. This usually costs between $5-20 depending on the size of your piece (plus the cost of the frame, which you would buy on sale, of course).

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Matting: Let’s say you want your piece to pop. You like your frame. But you want a colored matte to make your picture more custom looking. I have a tip for this as well. Go to the custom framing counter and pick out a couple of colors of matting from their samples that you would like to get custom cut for your piece. But you are not going to use those colors, unless they all ready have a cut piece of that matte in the back. If they have your color or a similar color (and they have never not had either my first or second choice) all ready cut, it is significantly cheaper to use their scrap. Using a fresh piece of matting is very expensive. Your piece will not be affected quality wise. Just your wallet. I usually save 75% on my custom matting this way.

The creature painting is by Rhode Montijo.

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Framing is not cheap. But I definitely think it adds so much to every piece of art in our home. You just need to decide how you want your art to pop. We chose a long time ago to use mostly gold and silver frames. I like the classical look of them. And they make our fun art more toned down and cohesive. These are typically more. Of course. Going with a solid black frame will usually cost you much less. Our collection has been growing for fifteen years. It is good to stick with whatever you choose to do so you do not need to change out your frames in the years to come. If you are just starting out, I recommend really sitting down and thinking about what style you want to reflect in your home.

Art will be the base. The frames will be the jewelry.

With the holidays coming up and gifts that need framing, I have been saving up my money and my art for this sale. It takes two weeks for your custom framing job (they build the frame) to be done. Usually they will get my matte or backing done (if I am going that route instead) on a piece within one day.

The piece above is an example of a traditional framed piece using my discounted matting tip. Ollie and Murphy riding a dragon was custom painted for us by Becky Dreistadt.

Do you have any art or pictures that need framing? Any other tips to share?

16 thoughts on “How To Get Your Framing Done Cheap…er

  1. What a great post. I sometimes have problems with really large prints that need framing and find using clear plastic perspex is much cheaper and looks almost identical.

    One thing we have been struggling for years is a huge colourful “print” of some dragons from Thailand. It is the sort of thing that is too big to be displayed anywhere except on a wall going up the stairs but the size is just too big to justify the expense. It is of a colourful village with a wooden bridge and houses along a river and two dragons flying playfully overhead. The back ground of it is all black velvet and if we hang it up without a frame it attracts all the dust and fluff.

    • Hi Stephen! Thank you! That print sounds amazing! In my fantasy mind, the people of Thailand painted what they had seen before. At least, that is what is in my head now. That is a conundrum as far as the velvet. I would definitely frame it when you get the chance. The dust might ruin the velvet. It sounds like the perfect statement piece!

      Have a beautiful Tuesday! Watch the skies!

      Jenni

  2. Do I have any art that needs framing? Ah…yes!! SO much. I’m terrible at buying pieces that don’t come in frames and then letting them sit in the closest for years because framing is too expensive. I finally got around to getting some done a few months ago – with a voucher of course – and almost had a heart attack at the prices. I got a quote for three little old book illustrations, they were already matted and the price for each was about what I would have expected for all three. They’re still in the closet. And one photograph I bought on etsy was well over $100 to put in my own frame. Ughhh.

    Any hints you’ve come across for art that needs conservation framing would be much appreciated. I seem to have mainly bought antique lithographs and illustrations. And I feel rather like a custodian seeing as they’ve survived so long already…

    • Hi Kirsten!

      I have never purchased anything that needed conservational framing. After what you have said, now I will be wary. That is very expensive! Framing is expensive. I have a few 8 X 10s that I have splurged on the most expensive huge frames for and those were about $80. Of course bigger paintings will cost more. Have you seen all of my smaller pieces? ; ). The most I have ever spent on a frame was for our peacock painting nine years ago at $350. And I have learned since that was actually a good deal! : 0!

      Let me know what you choose to do…your pieces sound Amazing! Fascinating. Very cool!

      Have a wonderful Wednesday!

      Jenni

  3. PS – Your collection looks wonderful Jenni! I think the strategy of using one or two colours but different styles works perfectly – it looks cohesive but also interesting.

    • Ahhh. Thank you Kirsten! It was actually inspired by an Anthropologie catalog I saw fourteen years ago. They had a whole wall of tiny paintings in gold frames. I wanted that look. : )

      I must get some sleep! I have to get up early tomorrow! YUCK!

      I hope your day is lovely!

      Jenni

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this information. I always wondered if they would mount items in their ready made frames and knowing they will do just backing if needed is a great thing to know. Whoop, whoop. You’re the best.

    • Thank you Brynne! I am glad I could answer that question for you. I was surprised at how much they can actually do at the framing place. I will probably do a follow up post in a month showing what I framed and how I chose the frame. And how I saved money. I wanted to get this one up first in case anyone needed to know about the coupon before it expired.

      I hope your Tuesday feels like a Friday!

      Jenni

  5. Jenni this post was awesome! So helpful. Thank you! I had no idea about the matting or the best time of year to get framing done. Love your art wall. It’s fantastic and must be so fun to look at every day.

    • Thank you Cynthia! I am so glad I could help! I have an artist on Etsy that I love. I thought of you today when I looked at her art. I usually buy her small little abstract nudes (not graphic), but I saw she is now doing cats, too. Her gallery is Sagittarius Gallery. Anyway, just wanted to let you know! She used to do amazing 40% off sales near the holidays. I do not know if she will be doing that this year.

      I will pop by your blog tomorrow (must get some sleep), because I want to tell you a story about how I catnapped a lady’s cat today. ; )

      Have terrific dreams!

      Jenni

      • Can’t wait to hear how you cat napped a cat! I checked out Sagittarius Gallery and her nudes are beautiful. I really like them. Her cats are great too. Thank you!

      • Hi Cynthia! I am going over to your blog now to retell! I am glad you like her art. I like her impasto nudes. We have two 5 X 7s of just back and side views. Really pretty. I like the impastos with the shadows and thick paint she uses!

        Have a happy Wednesday!

        Jenni

  6. Great post. I really enjoy the variety of your blog. I never know what you will blog about next. I absolutely love the picture of Ollie and Murphy on the dragon. (My Mu has a toy dragon.) Becky did a beautiful job.

    • Thank you! Ha! I get bored so quickly. I try to spread posts out so there are no two similar posts next to each other. I am glad you like it. It can be so random! : )

      I remember that toy dragon! Wow! I can’t believe she still has it! What a good girl! Ollie accidentally loves his toys too much and I always have to sneak them away, because he rips holes in them.

      Mu is so cute! You are lucky she is gentle!

      Have an awesome Tuesday!

      Jenni

  7. It’s cool to see some closeups of all your gorgeous art! I love that you guys collect art like this and seem to have turned your house into a gallery. Well, gallery-cum-library, I suppose. Which is not a bad thing at all! The creature painting is my favourite by far.
    Also, thanks for the cool framing tips!

    • Thank you so much Gwen! We do love art. And books. I love the creature painting, too. But I would be hard pressed to find a favorite. I am, of course, partial to my kids’ art. And I hope my tips helped! Yay!

      Have a gorgeous Thursday!

      Jenni

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