First, let me just say that I’m not really a frame guy. I’ve never really cared for framing my canvases, preferring instead to paint the edges on gallery wrapped canvas. I’ve just always felt like most frames draw too much attention to themselves.
Recently though I’ve been using up a stockpile of 3/4 inch deep canvases, so when three of my current paintings were accepted into the Artists of Texas show at the Dutch Art Gallery in Dallas I found myself in need of a few frames. I looked into different ready-made frames and custom moldings at local frame shops but didn’t really find anything I liked within my budget. Then I stumbled upon Illusions Floater Frames online at Jerry’s Artarama.
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What are floater frames?
Floater frames were popular in the 1970’s and seem to be making a comeback. I found several frame companies that offered different versions of floaters, although most only seemed to come sized for 1 1/2 inch deep canvas. The Illusions frames come in 3/4th and 1 1/2 depths and are available in six different finishes.
Unlike most frames there is no lip that hangs over the front of the painting. Instead there’s a small facing that’s set about a 1/4th inch away from the canvas allowing the edges to be seen. The inside of the frame is painted black which is what provides the “floating” effect. They’ve received several good reviews on the Artarama website so I thought I’d go ahead and give them a try.
My experience with Illusions Floater Frames
This was the first time I’d bought anything from Jerry’s. They have a four frame minimum order, so I ordered five frames in different sizes, all in the natural finish (there are 5 other finishes available as well.) Shipping was free with my order and arrived quickly.
When my frames arrived I was initially a bit disappointed. First off, the natural finish is actually unfinished, bare wood. And second, the first few frames that I opened, which were the 12×16 and 16×20 sizes, were fitted together a bit unevenly—leaving a couple of the corners with noticeable gaps.
My first instinct was to return the frames, but I decided to take a chance and open the larger ones as well. To my surprise they were very well constructed with tightly-fit corners. I placed a couple of different paintings in the frames and really liked the look so I thought I’d see if I could make them work.
Since the natural finish was actually bare wood, I first applied two coats of Tung Oil to seal and protect the wood and give it a bit more polished appearance. There were also a couple of spots on the black paint on the inside that needed to be touched up.
The frames are supplied with all of the mounting hardware required and made for a pretty easy assembly. I kind of wish they’d bypassed the clips and drilled holes for screws instead, but all in all the frames were easy to put together. There’s also a video on Jerry’s Artarama showing how to attach the canvas to the frame using the clips.
In my opinion, the frames have an understated, unobtrusive look that really lets the painting speak for itself while providing a professional, finished appearance. The problems I encountered seem to be primarily due to the natural finish.
For artists who prefer minimal framing, Illusions Floater Frames from Jerry’s Artarama are a good choice, provided you’re willing to put in a little effort to touch up minor flaws. They are inexpensive, lightweight, and if they’d just improve on the quality control a little I think they’re a perfect choice for a gallery setting.