Box Frames
1. Box Frames

We use 'box frame' to describe any frame with internal depth where the glazing is raised away from the surface of the artwork by a fillet / spacer hidden in the rebate.

Because the entirity of the work is often shown, the maker's handling marks remain visible and so express an object quality as well as a faithful unobstructed view of the work.

Box frames can also be very effective fitted directly to the edge, particularly with photography and graphic work, but in this case the piece will need to be rigid (dimensionally stable) and so may require dry mounting. It is important here to balance aesthetic preference against proper conservation handling of the work.

We often favour borders that are small relative to the item to avoid losing the piece in its context, and conversely very small objects can be enhanced by a much larger frame.

Image 1: Hilary Doyle for Cactus Moon Studio, 'Peaks Island Sunset' (left) 'AirBnB Tuscan' (right), double rounded white painted box frames with 12 mm white spacer and artwork dry mounted and fitted edge to edge.

Image 2: Hester Finch, pastel on paper. Float mounted over white card in a grained finish welded stainless steel box frame

Box Frames
2. Mount board interiors

Mount board interiors are often the right choice for matching characteristcs of the paper or for introducing subtle tonal differences that will either soften the overall feeling of the work, or increase contrast.

We use a range of neutral tones that compliment art papers, that will harmonise with, or simply support the work.

When floated over a matched mount board interior, the subtle shadow created by the float is often a key point of interest, a very gentle transition between artwork and frame that can be very effective.

Image 1: Spartacus Chetwynd, 'The Fleas', monotype on Japanese paper

Box Frames
3. Painted interiors

We create opaque, pigment-rich spray finishes that achieve a refined and engineered, rather than hand-made, surface. This can be really effective combined with graphic and quite controlled works; and conversely can contrast against more gestural pieces to emphasise the hand-made.

Painted interiors can be particularly effective when combined with matched frames. The use of a single colour for the interior and frame simplifies the number of visual components and with modest borders can be vibrant without dominating.

When float-mounted over a painted interior the artwork is hinged to a barrier of conservation quality mount board and is never in contact with the painted surface itself.

Box Frames
4. Linen and calico interiors

Linen and calico are synonymous with mid-century artist-made frames that re-appropriated available studio materials, often combined with the very beautiful dark timbers that would have been ubiquitous at the time.

Used in the context of a modern framing project, these organic materials are rich in texture and allude to a connection with traditional craft.

We are mindful to avoid imitating a well used aesthetic and instead look for colour and other material connections that feel fresh and resonate with the work.

Box Frames
5. Book cloth and other fabric

Paper-lined rayon is used widely in the production of presentation boxes for artists publications and print editions, and is an excellent resource for exploring colour and texture.

Image: Quentin Blake, red pencil drawing. Hinged to conservation quality mount board and floated over yellow ochre book cloth interior with matching fillets and sapele box frame.

Box Frames
6. Wooden Interiors

Taking inspiration from examples of museum and studio furniture such as printers' trays and plans chests, where objects / artworks are sometimes found in a more informal manner, perhaps laying in a drawer or stored in a box.

There is an attempt here to move away from the familiar visual language of framing for display where you would expect to see ‘artwork, mount and frame’, to instead create a finished object where the work and frame are symbiotic.

Depending on the application and the choice of timber, the interior will be milled from solid pieces, or fabricated with veneers.

Box Frames
7. To the edge

Box framing to the edge requires the work to be rigid (dimensionally stable) and so makes the choice suitable for only certain pieces, or for work handled by dry mounting.

Artwork made on non-rigid subrates is susceptible to dimensional changes casued by the environment (temperature, humidity, gravity). Due to the edges being constricted behind a fillet / spacer, we find that those changes will manifest in the centre of the work as sagging, bowing, rippling and can be unsightly.

Once dry mounted, or if naturally rigid, the work sits in a deep frame behind spacers with the glazing raised away and up near the front of the frame.

Particularly effective with larger works this approach can offer a very pure way of framing that is visually very direct. With so few components in use, the artwork seems to stand alone. With the boxy relief of the frame given by the depth of the fillets / spacers, the finished object can have a window or portal-like quality.

Most often fillet and frame colour are matched. Sometimes the fillet will match the artwork whilst the frame is different. Examples where artwork fillet and frame are all matched can be really successful, again with a view to paring-back to using as few components as possible.

Box Frames
8. Black Interiors

Black interiors are interesting to consider as a seperate category all-together.

Much harder to reconcile in some rooms, but if proportions are well balanced and the choice resonates perfectly with the work, it can be incredibly striking.

Just like the myriad shades of white that exist, it can be just as challenging to match a black – it is important to look at closely at the work. The surface and material quality of the black and the degree of light absorbtion are key factors.

Readily available black mount boards, because of the medium / size used in their production, often do not have the quality of absorbing light that makea black feel very dark.

As a result we often manufacture our own boards using other dyed papers, cloths and lining materials that are dry mounted in house to suitable backing materials.

We also have capacity to spray finish interior panels, and if true light absorbing blacks are required, there are incredible paints on the market that are perfcet for this application. The protection given by glazing means that black pigment with very little medium and no varnishing at all can be used to great effect.

Box Frames
9. Transparent Interior

Trasparent interiors are made possible by float mounting the artwork on conservation board that is adhered to a transparent back. The glass backing and artwork combined are then handled in exactly the same way that an artwork floated on mount board would be.

If glass is used for the transpaent back, there is a risk of breakage so clear acrylic backs often make a better choice, these can be anti-reflective or clear.

A challenge of transparent backs is designing-in a suitable hanging provision since the normal choices would be visible through the border. The second example shown is a double-sided artwork intented to hang with either side visible, so here we have incorporated custom placed key hole slots.

Screw eyelets at the top edge of the frame are an alternative if the work can hang from wall fixings above. T-locking wall fixings are a slim-line option that with adequate frame width, can be fitted to each side of the frame.