A Framing Malfunction

I learned something about framing recently. Never wait until the last minute.

I’ll have more about frames in a future post, but for now I want to show you what happened recently when I waited too long to order and test out a frame.

First, here’s the painting. I seem to like these panorama formats.

Around the Bay by Stephanie Benedict. Oil on canvas.
Around the Bay ©2012 Stephanie Benedict 15” x 45” Oil on canvas.

I always envisioned this painting in a floater frame: that is, not with the frame wrapped over the edges, but the frame held away from the painting.

Detail view, Around the Bay by Stephanie Benedict
Detail view, Around the Bay, showing how it would look in the frame.

About a month before the deadline to take the piece to the gallery, I ordered a gold floater frame. It arrived about a week before I needed it—and I left it wrapped in the bubble wrap. The painting was wet, I was trying to finish it, and I didn’t want to risk scratching the frame by handling it too much. So I waited until the painting was done and dry.

With typical frames, you attach the frame to the painting with brackets or framers points or even nails—but you don’t nail through the painting. The painting is rigid, so all you need to do is put the framers points or nails behind the canvas to hold it into the frame. The front lip of the frame itself keeps the piece from falling out the front.

With a floater frame, there is no front lip, so you have to attach the frame to the painting by screwing it to the stretcher bars from the back. But when I went to do that, the brackets the framing company provided were too short, and would have put the screw right through the spline holding the canvas to the stretcher bars. This might be OK, but I didn’t want to risk my painting by screwing directly through the edge of the canvas.

On this floater frame, the screw would have gone through the canvas
On this floater frame, the screw would have gone through the canvas

I went to two hardware stores and a Michael’s to find longer brackets: no luck. Happily, my friend Kat Oliver works in steel. She fabricated some longer brackets for me. But she had a problem: the jig she had made them deeper than the originals: from 3/8” to ¾”. And when I tried to use them, that extra depth made the painting stick out in front of the frame awkwardly. So I couldn’t use them.

The bracket on the left came with the frame. The one on the right was hand-fabricated.

In the meantime, just in case, I had put an extra coat of black around the edges of the painting. I’d used black gesso on the edges to begin with, but paint had splattered around the edges, so I added a layer of oil paint to the edge.

Around the Bay by Stephanie Benedict: edge view
The black edges of Around the Bay by Stephanie Benedict

So for now this is how the painting is hung, at High Hand Gallery. I’m still working on getting longer brackets, so I can frame this piece eventually. Otherwise, I need to order or make another 15” x 45” canvas—without the gallery wrap—just so I can use that floater frame!

Have you had framing malfunctions? Do you prefer not to use frames?