Making my own frames

I’ve taken on a new venture – making my own picture frames. I’ve been using ready-made frames until now but I’ve long wanted to make my own. I’ll be writing a bit about my experiences of doing this, the equipment I’m using and the lessons learned. I’m hoping also to add the option of a frame to my Etsy on-line shop so you can buy a print that is ready to hang.

Newly made frames
Newly-made frames, in solid wood, made by me.

Why not just stick to buying ready-made? Well, several reasons. First, I really stress to all customers I speak to that “I do everything myself”. I’m very proud that I’m selling my own work, printed by me, mounted by me. This isn’t true of all traders at the markets I attend so I make it a point of difference. The one thing I haven’t been able to say is that I make my own frames – until now. This is also important for my Etsy shop – Etsy has a policy that you must make everything yourself.

Second, the ready made frames are made from MDF, not solid wood. They’re very good quality, very solid and they look great but it’s going to be nice to say “solid wood frames”. Making them myself means I can get the cost price down to near the ready-made MDF price but for a really nice solid wood moulding. The difference isn’t immediately obvious but when you pick them up you can see and feel the extra quality. The vast majority of market traders selling framed pictures use the same ready-made frames as I do so it will be nice to differentiate with a better quality product.

Third, I can make non-standard sizes. I’d like to start selling wide-format (panoramic) shots but at the moment I can’t find a standard-sized ready-made frame for those sizes. That won’t be a problem if I make my own.

I can also decide to try different mouldings, perhaps for special pictures or projects.

So far I’ve only made nine frames (one of which wasn’t a success, so I’ve got eight that I can use). Results have been mixed – the quality is there, the end result is great, but the labour involved is much more than I expected and I’m only managing to make two a day. It doesn’t take me all day to make two, it’s the glue-drying-while-sitting-in-the-clamp time that’s the bottleneck.

Frame setting in the clamp
A newly made frame in a band clamp while the glue dries.

I’m quite excited though. I’ve started to dream about making frames, a sure sign that I’m getting a little over-obsessed by it. I’ll hopefully have my first hand-made frames for sale at my next West Didsbury market at the end of next week, Sunday the 30th September.