For obvious reasons, I decided to do my own framing. Because the prints I'll be showing are about early American history and because they're being presented at a history museum, I decided to use vintage/antique flea market frames as much as possible. I thought that doing so would evoke a sense of these prints having been collected over time and donated by different people, just as so many of the objects in the museum have been donated. I made a list of all my print sizes, grabbed a tape measure, and started scouring local flea markets and antique stores.
I didn't take photos of the process, but here's a list I generated of the pros and cons of using flea market frames:
- It's definitely cheaper than hiring a professional framer. I ended up spending a little over $600 instead of the $2000+ I would have paid a pro.
- The variety and patina of the vintage frames works well for certain kinds of artwork.
- It's fun going to flea markets.
- No custom sizes, so you have to take what you can find. I had to order custom frames for four prints that are very long and narrow.
- Sometimes you find the perfect frame but it has a picture in it that a seller feels is valuable so they've priced it higher than you want to pay just for a frame.
- It takes a long time to collect all the frames.
- Every found frame has its own set of issues and problems to solve: some need repairs, some have no glass, some are not deep enough to accommodate glass plus mat plus foam core backing.
- All flea market frames need a good cleaning.
Do I have cuts on my hands from handling glass? Yes. Did I curse a lot as I discovered the quirks of each frame? Yes. Did I spill some wood stain? Yes. But I saved over a thousand dollars! So yes, I would do it again.