Picture Frames and Picture Framing Fallacies, Myths and Untruths

Below are some comments about art and the art world. We have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible but no liability is assumed for any errors herein. It is the responsibility of users to ensure the correctness of all information. For any help with orders, see our Help and FAQs or use the Contact page.

It is possible to buy a valuable, authentic, original oil paintings at very cheap prices

We don’t think so. All the great, bargain-priced, oil paintings we have seen and framed were sold to our Customers under false pretences. This false pretence is simply an old scam that goes something like this.

Someone came to your home, work, pub or community function carrying several oil paintings, in a portfolio or rolled up. oil-painting-reproduction-of-leonardo-da-vinci-last-supperThat person said that he or she was a struggling artist trying to make his or her name. The paintings were real oil paintings, and so cheap that you bought one, or maybe more.

And besides, you did want to help out a poor artist. Unfortunately the chances are you were sold a pup. The paintings, most likely, were mass-produced copies made in a Chinese painting factory such as dafenvillageonline.com  .

These paintings are real, painted with oils, but they’re not valuable, authentic or original works of art. The same subject with the same colours is painted year after year, often in the same factory. If you want to, you can order your own Monet, VanGough, Matisse, Degas, take your pick.

Many of these mass-produced oil-paintings have Australiana themes and appeal to Australians.  The paintings may depict the bush, with sheep, fences, stockmen, gum trees and billabongs.

Frequently, these are signed with English, not Chinese, artists’ names. Of course, no one can begrudge Chinese artists earning their living and painting whatever subject they want and selling it to overseas buyers, that’s normal trade and commerce.

However it is dishonest to purloin mass-produced, oil paintings as unique, valuable, original or local Australian  works and to sell them as such. Picture framers’ trade talk has it that it is dodgy, local importers who induce poorly-paid commission agents or overseas students to mis-represent to Customers the provenance of the paintings being sold.

The only silver lining is that this type of confidence trick seems to be occurring less than it did years ago. More and more Australians travelling overseas and becoming increasingly aware that such oil paintings are so cheap because they’re not original produced by local artists but mass-produced copies made in sweatshops.

For more information about these art factories, as well as the working and living conditions of Chinese worker artists you can visit Dafen Oil Painting Village.

Masking tapes, packing tapes and adhesive tapes can be used to attach and repair artwork

May be these can, but this should not be done -at all-!  Taping any art on any or all of its sides, or taping it at all, is just about the worst mounting crime against art! Yet there are people who not only do this but, to make matters worse, take pictures of their mistakes and publish these online together with instructions on how commit them!

Adhesive taping should never be done, or applied, to paper-borne, or any art. If taped  on all sides  watercolour-damaged-by-incorrect-mountng-with-adhesive-tape for instance, the paper will have no room to move when it expands during hot weather and contract when it’s cold. If the paper art cannot move, it can actually rip or tear during contraction.

And when expanding, the paper will buckle, cockle or ripple under the glass, thus giving that unsightly “wavy” look under the glass. In addition, using Scotch tape, Sellotape, office tape, packing tape, pressure-sensitive tape or masking may cause unsightly adhesive residue marks.

Brown tapes, water tapes, rubber cement, glue sticks, spray can adhesives are also a no-no. And if you ever try to remove these tapes, you could tear or rip the attached paper art. Why would this happen you might say?

That’s because most industrial, adhesive tapes are coated with rubber adhesive. This adhesive consist of a long, polymer chain just like most cellulose that make up most, if not most, art and paper documents.

With the passing of time the art or paper document and the rubber adhesive stay bonded and these two layers will chemically interact and bind to one another. There’s actually a name for this process, it’s called cross-linking.

These structural and chemical changes will cause most tapes to become tough, hard and dirty. And the longer the tape is stuck to the paper the harder it will become to remove the tape from the paper. That’s why using any kind or type of home, office or industrial tapes is a bad idea when mounting paper art to the back of the frames.

It is to be noted though that picture framers “hinge” rather than “tape” art on paper to mats or backings. This most often involves special acid-free or conservation tape which is attached in no more that 2, 3 or 4 smalls sections, about thumb-sized, to the art or the backing.

Hinging art in this manner will allow the paper art to properly expand and contract with any moisture and temperature changes inside picture frames. Some picture framer who frequently practise archival framing will use often use a special, acid-free, linen tape, to fix the art to the mat so it does not shift in the frame.

This archival linen tape is reversible and can be removed by applying low heat with a hair or blow dryer. Another method used by often by paper conservators to secure original or valuable art on a backing board is with acid-free, museum, or archival corners.

In this manner, no sticky. noxious contaminant adhesive is in contact with the artwork. Using these special corners made of pH-neutral, or rag paper, and secured with museum or archival tape is the a recommended art mounting technique.

Conservation practitioners, instead of buying pre-made corner, often make their own with archival or rag paper tape which is folded for use and shaped for this use. Yet another, similar product, often used by scrap-bookers for this purpose goes by the name of Photo Tabs. Usually these are sold in a small, handy dispenser box.

Rolled up inside are lots of tow-sided, rectangular or square tabs. Some are even sold with an applicator box which is very handy as I don’t have to muck around with liners. One brand is called Click n Stick’  With this applicator box you press down the appropriate side and the tape is applied to your art or paper.

You can attach small photos and cards by putting a square tab at each of the four corners. These will let you affix or attach your small to medium-size art quite securely. You’ll still be able to lift your art off if you want to later on and just use new fresh tabs.

It is better to buy Australian-made picture frames rather than imported ones

While many Australian-made picture frames are certainly of better quality than some imported picture frames, these can also up to 10 times the price of the cheaper, Asian-made frames.

Another ironic aspect of this topic is that most Australian picture framers buy stock, ready-made frames and timber picture framing mouldings grown, felled  australian-made-picture-frames sawn, milled, finished, wrapped and packed completely in Asia.

There are still some fully Australian-made (mostly from radiata pine) picture frames mouldings but these are a very small minority. Australian-made picture framing mouldings are spectacularly uncompetitive when compared to imported mouldings.

Given the choice of similar-looking A2-size frames, one from China from $18 and one from Australian at $49, most, if not all, Customers will buy the cheaper picture frame, even if its quality is inferior to the more expensive picture frame.

And while many say that price isn’t the only factor when choosing an imported product over an imported one, it’s definitely the most important one. Our exquisitely empirical experience is that most customers don’t care or even ask where a picture frame comes from.

They look over our picture frames, check the prices, compare the locally made product to the cheap Asian import, remark how much nicer the Australian-made product is, and then they buy the cheaper Asian import! In other words, if the picture frame is deemed good value-for-money, they’ll buy it.

It’s a simple as that. Most customers neither posit nor consider the argument that cheap imports may be damaging or be destroying local jobs or economies. They’re just thinking about personal micro-economics, how to save their own money, rather than other people’s or Australia’s greater macro-economics.

Yet another truth is that imports give Australians far more choices and price options when buying most products. If Australia had kept the high car car importing duties and tariffs of the 1970’s we’d all have to fork out at least 30,000 for the average car.

But we can now buy one for about on third of that amount. On the other hand, the World Trade Organization (WTO) on its website, posits that Australian businessmen and entrepreneurs, on seeing how successful imported products are, may be spurred and encouraged to set up factories and to compete in the market against he successful imports.

It also says that this may also increase the choice of brands available to consumers as well as expanding the range of goods and services produced locally. But that’s wishful thinking, at best. Local manufacturers actually oppose the notion of increasing the choice of brands available to customers or increasing the range of good available to consumers.

What they want to do is to make more money in easier and faster ways. And they cannot do this by manufacturing anything locally given that the average Australian worker must be paid up to 10 times the hourly rate of some Asian workers.

What a local manufacturer might do instead, on seeing a profitable line of imported products, he’ll buy a few samples, task an Asian manufacturer to reverse-engineer it, import it and make some real money! This is how real businessmen work, but try and tell that to our politicians!

WTO also says that imports boost incomes in the exporting countries, and they derive economic benefits. While that might be true, they forget that the basic, if crude, instinct of human nature is that people feel that charity should begin at home, and not in some foreign country.

All prints, photos and posters should be conservation framed to lessen deterioration

Not in our opinion. In our many years of picture framing experience, by far the great majority of prints and allied paper-borne art brought in by Customers for picture framing consists of inexpensive, ephemeral, decorative, mass-produced, tourism-related, commercial reproductions.

Most of these are cosmetic, decor items and, as such, likely to be discarded by Customers when these customer-making-a-decision-about-conservation-picture-framinG Most of this kind or art can be inexpensively framed with cheap Ready-Made poster frames by the Customers themselves at less than half the cost of custom picture frames.

We have all seen the unwanted Sara Moon, Leaping Dolphins or Breaching Whales framed posters being flogged for a few dollars at the local, week-end bazaar, market or church fete.

Speaking for ourselves, we do not suggest or advise our Customers to pay double or triple normal, custom framing prices by adding Ultra-Violet protection glass or Museum Quality mount boards to their common, every-day art.

Of course, this  does not apply to artwork brought in to be to be framed which has any degree of financial, cultural, economic, historical, emotional value or significance. Nowadays, with the age of the internet, most customers, are expecting picture frames and picture framing to be cheaper and quicker.

Customers will shop around and will wonder and ask why on earth they should pay a few hundred dollars to “over-frame” a print that cost $30, $50 or less than a hundred dollars, in most cases.

Picture framers who try to overframe everyday prints and poster will only end up doing themselves a disservice as customers find other, more scrupulous and cheaper framers. These customers will not only remember these over-framing incidents and assiduously avoid returning to the original, “expensive” framer, but will also tell family and friends about their experience.

Picture framers can post, courier or ship custom picture frames to their customers

Actually, most picture framers, including ourselves, won’t do this and for very good reasons. The main reason for not wanting to post or ship customers’ artwork framed in custom picture frames is that no courier, transport or freight company can or will absolutely, unreservedly guarantee that squashed-parcel-with-damaged-artwork

For instance, in 2014 year we consigned to our regular and usually reliable courier a large, 20kgs parcel addressed to a government organization in Cooma, NSW.  This parcel simply vanished from the face of the earth and our couriers could not find no trace of it.

All we could then do is refund our customer and try and lodge an insurance claim. And this wasn’t the first time this had happened. fortunately, the parcel we sent contained cheap, plastic certificate frames, easily replaceable.

But what if the parcel had contained your grandfather’s framed war medals or framed historic documents? Either or both of these types of artwork may have had great emotional, financial or historical significance or importance.

These would have been lost forever, never to be replaced. As for insurance or financial compensation, most couriers offer little or none at all. And even if you’ve bought specific parcel contents insurance, getting fair compensation from an insurance company is nearly always lengthy and difficult.

All couriers will advertise that their service is excellent, but ask them for a 100% guaranteed, unconditional, safe delivery guarantee and none of them will give it to you.

In addition, and with specific regard to picture frames, photo frames, paintings and works of art, most courier and freight companies either prohibit transport of these goods or offer no compensation at all in case of damage or loss. Australia Post even forbids the carrying of shipping of picture frames if they have glass. This is why we won’t ship customers’ work or custom picture frames.

And, some last words …

Our photo frames, picture frames, frameless clip frames, football display cases, basketball display cases, and other product ranges can be found online by making Google , or Bing searches. For custom picture frames and custom picture framing price quotations, please use our free, easy and fast Prices Estimator.

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