Design Tools Shopping Trips

CUSTOM FRAMING 101

Michaels Custom Framing // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Custom framing. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been a bit intimidated by the process. So many choices. So many decisions.Β When Michaels asked us to test drive their custom framing service, I have to admit, I was a little hesitant at first. The more I thought about it, the more I was intrigued, and we ultimately decided to give it a go.

Michaels Custom Framing // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Keeping in mind that Michaels can frame pretty much anything (including guitars, jerseys, quilts, etc), we racked our brains for a few days trying to narrow down what to have framed. We didn’t have any vintage guitars or quilts on hand, so we thought it would be fun to have our prized vintage gas station number framed. For over a year, I’ve been noticing a ton of old red gas station numbers at our local flea markets and antique malls. I’ve been keeping my eye out for a number 7 for what seems like forever and found a plethora of 3’s, 2’s and 6’s but no 7’s. About six months ago, I finally found a 7. It was $20 – which was about 75% more that what all of the other numbers were marked – but that was okay because it was exactly what I’d been looking for. Finally. Since then, Greg and I’ve been wondering what to do with it. Β We couldn’t necessarily frame it because that’s not really your standard frame size.

Next, we had this box of post cardsΒ that had been sitting around for almost two years. My mom gave them to me as a part of my birthday present, and the moment I saw them, I thought they would make great wall art. I envisioned them being hung in a grid of 6 or 9. Since the postcards are 4×6, with a tiny white border around the edge, and we wanted a slightly larger than average mat (at least larger than the other 4×6 frames we’d seen). That made them perfect specimens for custom framing.

Michaels Custom Framing // 7thhouseontheleft.com

When I arrived at the store for my custom framing appointment, I met my framing expert, Kate – who by the way is a very talented illustrator (I so wish I could draw). I showed her what I had to frame and the style I was going for (simple/timeless/modern-ish).

Michaels Custom Framing // 7thhouseontheleft.com

To start off, Kate took a photo of the metal number using a digital camera on an arm that hangs over the table – or what I refer to as the “handy dandy sky cam”. The photo was immediately uploaded to the computer where she loaded it into the in-store Frame Visualizer. By the way, the consultants put on the white gloves to protect the artwork they’re working with, which is a very nice touch, if you’re working with something that’s easily damaged or discolored.

Michaels Custom Framing // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Michael’s has tons and tons and tons of mat options. 480 to be exact. They also have different textures, finishes and details to choose from. For both of my framing projects, we decided to go with a simple white, classic mat.

Michaels Custom Framing // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Now for the frame. Oh my goodness. So. Many. Frames. Luckily, I wasn’t too overwhelmed because we already had an idea of what we wanted for this piece. Since we’re thinking about hanging this in the kitchen (or at least near the kitchen), we wanted a dark frame to stand out amongst the white cabinetry. I showed Kate a photo of the space we were thinking about hanging it and she agreed – a simple black frame was the way to go.

Michaels Custom Framing // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Each frame option has a “grade”, and each piece of artwork graded based on its dimensions. The grade of the frame has to be the same or greater than the grade of the artwork, or the frame won’t work. At first, I was thinking more along the lines of a small, thin frame (like the one on the far leftt of the counter), but since the frame’s grade was a lot lower than the grade of the gas station number, we had to upgrade to a beefier frame.

Michaels Custom Framing // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Since the width of the frame was smaller than the width of the red number, everything actually balanced out perfectly. As far as the mat, Kate and I both thought it would look really cool to mount the number on the mat rather than having the number surrounding the mat like traditional matting. I’m so excited to see the results of this! Now, on to the next framing project…

Michaels Custom Framing // 7thhouseontheleft.com

The box of post cards came with 100 book covers. Before coming for the consultation, I narrowed it down to 9 cards. Once I laid them all out on the counter, I thought that 6 framed cards might look a bit less cluttered, so I narrowed them down to six. Once I settled on the six we were going to have framed, Kate took each one, measured the artwork and took a photo of it using the handy dandy “sky cam”.

Michaels Custom Framing // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Once again, we went with the simple black frame – but this time around, using the smaller one. As for the mat, Kate suggested we do a double white mat. It brings more depth to the simple design of the framed piece as a whole and overall, gives it more “oomph”.

The entire consultation took about 45 minutes to an hour. It really didn’t even seem like that long because, honestly, it was a lot of fun. Not at all as tedious or laborious as I expected. Before I left the store, Kate gave me a paper for each frame (7 total) that included the overall dimensions of each frame and the style frame and mat we used. This will definitely come in handy when we decide to have more pieces framed in the future. The turnaround time for our frames (and most framing projects) is two weeks. We should probably be getting them sometime next week, and I can’t wait to see them!

Out of curiosity, I asked Kate about the largest piece they’ve ever framed. She told me about a guy who is trying to make his own custom-sized projector screen. He’s having a wooden frame made at a local lumberyard, bringing the frame to Michaels and having them stretch a blank canvas over it. Did I mention this “frame” is gigantic? She said it covered both framing tables then some. Now, that’s a big project.

Michaels Custom Framing // 7thhouseontheleft.com

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Amy
    September 18, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    This is a GREAT rundown of the experience! I’ve always wanted to try custom framing, but never knew what to expect. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Patt
    September 18, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    I have some quilts that my great grandmother made and are now falling a part little by little. I think having portions of each quilt framed will be a nice way to preserve them. Thanks for the post!

  • Reply
    Miriam
    September 18, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    Please do share the “after” pics! I have the same exact postcard set, and I have always struggled with a way to display them. I may have to steal/borrow your idea! πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Ashley
      September 18, 2013 at 2:34 pm

      Will do!

  • Reply
    Noel M
    September 18, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    Would I be too nosy if I ask what the ballpark price would be normally for the sort of framing you got done? I have some things I was going to try and make work with IKEA options, but if Michael’s is reasonable I might go with an in-town option instead! Did you use the one on Route 1?

    • Reply
      Ashley
      September 18, 2013 at 4:44 pm

      Yep, I went to the one on Route 1. Custom framing is more expensive than regular frame options (like Ikea), but it’s all done by hand to your specs and the artwork is protected even more since they seal the back. To give you a ballpark, the large metal 7 was $121 and the smaller frames were $52 each. Keep your eye out for their special promotions! Right now, they have a 50% off + an additional 30% off (crazy good deal!) until the 21st. Hope that helps!!

    • Reply
      Gen
      September 19, 2013 at 2:08 pm

      Are the prices you quoted before or after the discount coupons you mentioned?

      • Reply
        Ashley
        September 19, 2013 at 3:20 pm

        After the coupon, but I was there during the 50% off promotion. I didn’t get to take advantage of the 50% + 30% promo going on right now. I might have to go back, haha!

  • Reply
    Megan
    September 18, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    We inherited a great piece of family history from my husband’s family and had it custom framed at Michaels. They did a great job! We did double mats and a great frame that started the new color scheme in our living room.

  • Reply
    Linda
    September 18, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    We’ve used the Michaels near us for several custom framing projects and have had a similarly positive experience. We always wait for a good coupon deal (and the 60% + 30% they have going now is the best I’ve seen). The frame visualizer is great because it is tough to tell how the item being framed will look using just the little corner frame samples they have. While custom framing is definitely more expensive than stock frames, the final product is definitely worth the added expense.

  • Reply
    Mia B
    September 18, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    The postcards are still available!!!! I LOVE THEM!!! Thanks so much for sharing them on your blog. Can’t wait to see them framed.

  • Reply
    J. Brooks
    September 18, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    We have a new Michael’s that just opened up. I haven’t been there yet but certainly plan on going.

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    September 19, 2013 at 10:35 am

    I have a set of 12 vintage postcards from Paris that my uncle bought while serving there in WWII. I’ve been wanting to get them framed but have held off mainly due to cost. I want to make sure they are in archival glass and all that, and framing can be expensive. But Michaels is a great option and they always have coupons. Now that one FINALLY opened near me, I’ll definitely check them out!!

  • Reply
    Elaissa
    September 19, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    You should check out Americanframe.com
    They are an awesome company and a majority of the frames in my house and my parents house are from there. They even have an upload section where you can play with all the mats and frames with your artwork before deciding. Assembly of the frames is easy too. Love it!!
    I enjoy your blog!

  • Reply
    Jennifer I
    September 20, 2013 at 11:31 am

    While in grad school, I worked at a locally owned frame shop. What Michaels and JoAnns don’t want you to know, is that they mark their prices way up, so their coupons actually bring them down price wise to a comparable rate to the private framers.

    That is not to discourage you from their services, I’ve used them!! Just to let you know that you aren’t necessarily getting a deal on framing. That coupon is always in the paper, am I right?

    Picking up matting and framing skills has saved me money over the years, but without the proper tools and for odd sizes, you do need custom framers. Sounds like you had a great experience!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      September 20, 2013 at 11:44 am

      I’ve noticed pretty much every craft/framing place around here says 40-50% off all the time but I’ve never seen a 50% + 30% off like the coupon out now. Hopefully it pops up a few more times as the holidays roll around! : )

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