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Thread: Ready made frames

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    Subscriber Member mwalker's Avatar
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    Ready made frames

    Can anyone recommend a company that makes gallery quality ready made metal frames? I'm looking for a kit that has the frame, backing, matt, glass, ready to mount. I was quoted locally $9500.00 to mount 28 images (estimated all large) and I'm trying to see if I can do it cheaper but still have good quality. Thanks.
    Mike

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Ready made frames

    Hi Mike:

    I order all my mounting and framing supplies from United MFRS: http://www.unitedmfrscatalog.com/index.cfm . I use acrylic cover glass which I get locally from TAP plastics, but you can get actual glass cut to size at any glass shop. United sells frame kits cut to custom sizes with a variety of profiles and colors, as well as archival mounting and framing materials. However, you'll need to cut the backing and mats based on your frame and print sizes. If you don't want to do that, most framing shops will do just the matting and mounting, but again charge an arm and a leg for it.

    I got into the mounting, matting and framing for myself when I got a similar astronomical quote from a frame shop for 24 prints in preparation for my first real show. I was stunned, so ended up buying a professional mat cutter, all the associated tools like tape guns, hinge tape, burnishers and mat smackers, along with all of the mat and mount boards and frames. At the end of the day, I saved about 40% from what the frame shop wanted to charge on that job alone, and had all the tools paid for -- and I'm still using them some 18 years later.

    Cheers,
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Ready made frames

    Hi Mike,

    I use Frame Destination for my mats and frames. They offer wood kits, metal kits, or components. Good discounts kick-in on labor intensive items at 4, 10, 25 and 50 type quantities. I never order fewer than four of any kit and typically 10 or more of many, to get the additional price break. The discounts are most significant for the mats cut to size.

    Website isn't great (though now much improved), but service it good in my experience.

    Oh, by the way, I'm not a fan of the tapes they sell for matting, though if one hinges mats they have a proper option. I buy my tape for T-hinges elsewhere.

    And if you want to mat prints and not frame them, Clear Bags has proper bags for prints with mat and backing board, etc.

  4. #4
    Oxide Blu
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    Re: Ready made frames

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post

    I got into the mounting, matting and framing for myself ... and I'm still using them some 18 years later.

    So, that was BEFORE digital photography was invented ... ... ... hell, wasn't that before web browsers were invented!

    Ditto Jacks idea -- DIY if you have the time to do it. Cutting mats is not difficult, tho there are techniques that will save time and help prevent mistakes. If you do decide to buy a mat cutter, do not buy el cheapo -- invest the money in a quality tool that allows you to make the necessary adjustments -- and will last you for years. And like Jack, I'm still using the same mat cutting tools (including a hand-held Dexter mat cutter from the 1970's or 80's) that I got pre-web browsers.

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    Re: Ready made frames

    I considered buying an Esterly Speedmat cutter, but decided that my volume falls short to make sense for now. That's why I currently order custom cut mats, sized to my needs. I use complete wood frame kits (flat black or "walnut"), as well as ordering bulk custom cut mat board and backing board. Ordering 10 or 25 of each size at a time is very reasonable. Sometimes I'll order a smaller number of wood frame kits (complete) but then also order larger quantities of mats and backing boards in my sizes. Having zero waste factors into the cost comparisons as well.

    Cutting with simpler tools than the Esterly cutter isn't a way I enjoy spending time, and since I don't have the volume to justify the Esterly I go the other route and assemble myself.

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Ready made frames

    I use the Easterly SpeedMat (40x60) and can tell you it is worth every single penny. Perfect double-mats in 4-ply rag are a cinch as are crisp-edged 8-ply mats. An incredible tool. I can cut a dozen double-mats (24 pieces) per hour with it.
    Jack
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    Re: Ready made frames

    I believe you, Jack. That's why I almost bought one. But my reality is that I'm producing too little work right now to warrant it. It's the only mat cutter of interest to me, hence my outsourcing.

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Ready made frames

    I hear you, but for the quantity and sizes Mike is looking at, it would pay for itself about 3 times over on the first job!
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Ready made frames

    I also use Frame Destination (mentioned and linked above). Reasonable, shipped quickly, well packed. I have them cut the mats for me, though I could do it myself. Their configurator lets you choose all the relevant dimensions...

    j
    Jonas Yip
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    Subscriber Member mwalker's Avatar
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    Re: Ready made frames

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    I hear you, but for the quantity and sizes Mike is looking at, it would pay for itself about 3 times over on the first job!
    I'm going to look into it. This Russian project is scheduled to show in 2011 so I got some time to train myself to get it right. What are we talking $3-4K?
    Mike

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    Re: Ready made frames

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    I hear you, but for the quantity and sizes Mike is looking at, it would pay for itself about 3 times over on the first job!
    Agreed. It's all about the math, and one's time. Though I believe that time is of little concern once the materials are on site.

    I save enough by buying 25 or 50 mat sets at a time that when I factor in other elements I'm comfortable with the difference. When/if volume increases I'll revisit the idea of ordering an Esterly.

    Edit to add: my typical print size is only 16x24 or 16x22 with a 4" or 5" mat border. Larger sizes will tend to make a greater difference as well, and favor the DIY approach.
    Last edited by Dale Allyn; 18th November 2009 at 18:54.

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