Sunday, July 20, 2014

DIY Simple Strip Frame for your Canvas Paintings

I’ve been making frames…lots of them.  If you walked in my front door right now, this is what you’d see – tada, an animal gallery of my paintings!

painting with simple strip frame around it




welcome to my home studio
So I guess if you didn’t know me before, you’d figure out a couple of things right away, I’m an
animal lover, and either an artist or collector of art.  And we know I’m an artist and I love painting animals – just because I love them so, but paint them is also my fun place, my joy.  And a good way to just keep painting when I’m brewing over some other more “serious” painting in the works. I’m guessing you have your less serious subject matter, too???
MAKING STRIP FRAMES
I had another post planned for this week, but a few of you artsy pals inquired about the strip frames I was making over the weekend for my canvas paintings. 
DIY Simple Strip Frame over Canvas
WHAT YOU NEED:
  • nice hand saw
  • mitre box
  • sanding sponge
  • ruler
  • pencil
  • strip wood – i use 1/4″ x 1 3/8″ finished strip pine
HOW MUCH WOOD WILL YOU NEED:
(As to how much you’ll need to measure, each 8′ piece is 96 inches. Measure all your canvas sides and add a couple of inches just because…so for instance, how many 8 x 10 frames will one 8′ piece make? I am seriously retarded at math, but I configure it this way: 8″ x 2 sides = 16, 10″ x 2 sides = 20, that’s 36″+ 2 inches for safety net = 38″. Divide 96 by 38 and you get about 2.5 frames. It doesn’t go as far as you might think. I just buy lots of extra wood to be safe!)

When I switched over to acrylics in January, I decided to try stretched canvas as my support….something I didn’t really take to before.  I do love working on paper, but got very tired of the expense and hassle of matting and framing, not to mention the not so invisible dust bunnies that always find themselves settled on a white mat after you thought you had it perfect!
The initial canvases I bought were 3/4″ or traditional profile. [The 1.5″ and wider are called gallery-wrap, fyi.] We learn as we go, right?
Some of them I painted the sides a matching color, some I painted around the sides.  But no matter how I viewed them, they looked “wimpy.” I needed a solution.  And I wasn’t interested in spending loads of money on more frames or framing supplies.  I really love this strip frame natural wood look – it’s minimalistic, which matches my contemporary style just fine, and I can make them myself, with just a few tools and they are done quite quickly.  I’m down to about 15-20 mins per.  Or maybe even quicker by the time I got to my 20th!
There is strip lath available, used for fencing, but it’s scruffy and cheap and would take forever to sand and get the splinters out of your fingers. Don’t bother.  I do not use the scruffy stuff, but choose the well finished strip wood in pine from Orchard Supply.  Costs me about $7.50 per 8 ft length.  They come in 1 1/8″ wide and 1 3/8″.  I use the latter as I like the deeper profile. Just be sure you buy all of ONE width, and don’t mix them up – or no matchy matchy.  (Duh, I did – once, and I learned.)
Measure the top of your canvas, mark it with pencil, check again – the ole measure twice, cut one adage – then saw by hand with your mitre box.  Easy.  Then cut an exact duplicate.  Use the sanding sponge to clean up the edges a bit.
Figure out whether you want your canvas inset a tad or flush with the frame. Next, I put a wood board under the canvas for a good solid work surface (rather than a soft carpet), hammer a brad into each side of the strip wood into the canvas about 1/2 inch from the edge.  Then secure one more in the middle. That’s it, basically 3 brads per side.  This is for 8 x 10s and 11 x 14s mostly.
Then return to your ruler and measure the sides to go full top to bottom.  The sides are what viewers will see, that’s why the top and bottom are your shorter pieces, flush with side of canvas and the side strips cover that.  Do it again, measure, cut and nail the sides in.  It’s really that easy.  Don’t use glue!  If your collector wants to change the frame, it’s easy to do so.
I wire the canvas itself for hanging, NOT the frame.  I don’t think the frame is strong enough to take the tension of the wire. And that’s usually done before I add the frame.

NOTES
  • Do NOT try to precut a bunch of these even for the same size canvas.  Do them one frame at a time.  You’ve been warned!
  • You could get fancy and stain, paint or varnish the strip wood first.
  • You could add the frame to blank canvas first and paint around the sides (see JBerry notes below).
  • You can get a nail set and set the brads below the surface, and use some pine colored nail filler, then sand if you lean toward the obsessive.
  • You could mitre your edges (that’s way beyond my patience level).
  • Why make it HARD when you can make it EASY?
Watch and read my sources below…and who knows, I’m sure you can improve upon my simple system.  I’m no carpenter, but I’m pretty particular about how things look, especially my paintings. And I’m plenty happy with my frames for now. I may try thicker wood for my larger paintings. We’ll see.

MY SOURCES
I have created my own method based on the following sources, and give a big shoutout to these two artists for sharing their info:
WATCH THIS:  I like Jon Peters video…but his method is a bit more involved. I don’t use the 1/4″ spacer in between, though I love the idea. His vids are so informative.
Also, look at the pics of some thicker wood, walnut stained frames, on Jon Peter’s website.  These look nice and are shown at an exhibit.
The other source is simpler, JBerry, which I found by searching the net.

Blessings and Paint On! Joanie
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