First I should say that there's more than one way to skin a cat. Wait, what? No, I hate that saying. What I mean is I'm sure there's lots of ways to frame a painting. This is the way I learned way back in my painting 1 class in college. I've stuck with it because this is what I know. It's inexpensive and I think it looks nice. It's also simple and I like simple.
So here we go...this is how I frame all my paintings that are on stretched canvas. And if you want to try it too, here's what you'll need:
- wood trim or lattice piece
- mitre box and saw
- brads or small nails
- tape measure
- wood putty
Sometimes I use the natural wood like I did with this painting of PeeWee. Other times I start by painting the wood white or whatever color. Here's one framed in white and then there's PeeWee who is going au natural.
So first thing is to paint the wood if you're going that route. I did one coat of paint before I cut/framed and a second coat of paint afterward. With PeeWee I decided to paint the edges of the canvas a dark blue. I thought that'd be a nice contrast with the wood. It's a subtle detail but I like that.
You'll want to use a mitre box or set up a table saw to make a 45 degree angle cut. First thing, take the wood and make a 45 degree angle cut on one end. This will be the starting point. I like to measure and cut each piece one at a time. Sure I could say it's a 6x6 inch painting so each side needs to be 6 inches but I found that's not usually the case. With the way the canvas is folded and stapled, some sides might be 6 1/8 and some 6 1/4 inches. You just never know. And you've heard that old carpenter saying "measure twice, cut once." So yeah, do that.
I start at the bottom, measure, and then cut a piece of wood for the bottom. Remember that if it's 6 1/4 inches, I need to measure 6 1/4 inches from the inside of that first 45 degree cut. I also need to make sure that when I make my next 45 degree cut, it goes in the opposite direction as my first.
Once I get that first piece done, I lay it out at the bottom of my workspace or I write on the inside 'bottom.' I don't want to forget where this piece goes. Then I measure and cut the left side. It's often just a smidge different in length. I do the same with the top and the right sides. After each cut, I label the pieces top, bottom, left, and right.
Now it's time to break out the hammer and nails. I like for my frame to stick out in front of my painting just a little. That way if the painting is laying face down, only the frame will touch, and not the painting which could potentially damage it. So I use a piece of scrap wood and I place it on top of the painting. I make sure my framing piece is flush with that piece of scrap wood. I check each end and make sure I'm centered and flush with the corners. Then I hammer two small nails or brads into the wood.
I repeat this on all four sides, aligning the corners as I go. Sometimes one of the sides doesn't fit right and I have to cut a new piece. It's a hassle but it's not near as bothersome as looking at a wonky frame. Once all four sides are attached, I fill in the cracks with wood putty.
I sign, date, and title on the back. Some people sign in a corner but I find it distracting, especially on such a small painting. Last thing, take a photo! I forget this step a lot and then I might end up selling or gifting the piece and I have no record of it! So take it near a window or outside and snap a photo of it. PeeWee the painting is all ready to go to his new home. Hooray!