- Clean, flat surface
- Frame + wire and hanging clips
- Matte (either the one that comes in the frame, or a custom made alternative)
- Acid-free tape
- Glass cleaner + clothe
- A print (I'm framing one of my favorites - "Embrace" in a 12x12)
Our favorite inexpensive frame options are Ikea's Ribba frames. They come in white or black with a crisp white matte for a really clean, modern look. Their 20x20 size (perfect for a 12x12 or 16x16 print) is only $20! The Jallvik line is also great if you're looking for a wood finish.
Both of the frames mentioned above come with a pre-cut matte, however if you want a different color or something archival that won't contaminate the art piece (highly recommended), then Blick art store has an absurd assortment of matte boards to choose from. Plus, they'll cut the matte board you choose to your exact specifications for right around $10, depending on the size.
Lie your print out flat on a very clean surface face-up (wipe up those coffee rings and toast crumbs beforehand). Be careful when handling your print, and never touch the printed part of the paper. Secure a piece of acid-free artist's tape, sticky side up, to the very top of the print. Line up the opening in your matte with the edges of the print as closely as possible, and press the top of your matte to the piece of tape to secure it. Once your matte is lightly secured to the tape, carefully reach behind the print to press the tape with your finger, and flip the print and matte over so they're facing down.
Use your acid-free artist's tape to secure the corners of your art piece to the matte. It's best not to tape every inch of all 4 sides completely because you want your print to have a bit of room to move around when the temperature changes, so it doesn't buckle. That being said, you still want your print to be somewhat taught, so be sure to smooth the print completely before taping to avoid gaping between the edge of the print and matte.
Make sure your glass is spotless, and wipe off any smudges or fuzzy things with a non-streak glass cleaner and clothe. Once your glass is completely dry and in the frame, insert the matted print. If you're using a Ribba frame, put the square wood piece back in after your matted print too.
To make your finished product extra secure, you can choose to use an acid-free cardboard or foam core backing piece that you mount to the matte (not the print) with double stick mounting tape. I'm constantly rearranging my art walls and swapping out frames, so I opt for a less-permanent means of framing.
Push the hanging clips onto the top third of the frame backing and return the backing to the frame, pushing metal tabs down to secure. If you've swapped prints in your frame a few times and the little metal tabs are getting loose, or have broken off completely, it's worth investing in a point driver to replace those little things as you need - I use the Logan Dual-Drive Elite. Then smooth out your wire coil and measure it evenly across from clip to clip, leaving about 3 inches on either end to thread through each clip and wind around itself.
Flip that puppy over to reveal a beautifully framed, hopefully smudge-free, new art piece! If you've got the wall space, we suggest hanging "Embrace" with "Bechtel Road", "Proximity", "Dusk", and "Day Dreamer".