Tray Frames
1. Tray Frames

Tray frames are made from an open L-shaped profile and are used to display works on canvas and on panels where the surface protection normally provided by glazing is not required.

If the artist's surface has particularly vulnerable characteristics such as paints with migrant pigments (highly susceptible to UV damage), material that may be ruined by moisture or dust, chalk / charcoal that is permanently changed if touched, or in the case of photographic work, an unprotected printed surface, then we would always recommend an alternative such as box framing with protective glazing.

A tray frame can provide important edge protection for the work and some surface protection as the artwork is sunk back very slightly, as well as a safe way to hang the piece.

Primarily though this choice is driven by appearance and the wish to have a tactile and uninhibited experience of the work.

Tray frames do provide important edge coverage that can help conceal unfinished edges in much the same way that an artist-made strip frame would do.

A slim shadow gap can emphasize the object quality of the work by revealing the edge very slightly. And since the fixing of the work is done at the reverse of the frame, the work can appear to float.

By increasing the shadow gap there is an opportunity to reveal more of the interior of the frame, useful if the work is helped by the presence of the frame material, or if it benefits from the increase in size overall.

Tray Frames
2. Material and Proportions

Given that this style of framing is so simple, utmost care is given to the choice of material and the balance of proportions.

Frame height can be informed by the depth of the work, but in cases where the work is relatively flat, there is an opportunity to exaggerate this for effect.

Frame width, and the width of the shadow gap are balanced against elements in the composition and are also informed by material choice. We almost always avoid these widths repeating to minimise the risk of an unconsidered stripe manifesting itself around the work.

In choosing material it can be really fascinating to explore how dramtically the choice will influence the work.

Sometimes the most effective tray frames act as a break between the work and the surrounding wall that can unify the artwork and environment but not specifically seek a presence of its own.

Tray Frames
3. Bespoke Tray Frames

While simple clean lines are quite often the best approach, we look at every work differently and are excited to explore completely bespoke designs made specifically for a single piece.

Working closely with artist Marie Lenclos these are some examples of entirely bespoke designs.

Image 1: Marie Lenclos, 'Silo'
Welded and oxidised mild steel tray profile. With buffer U-shaped strip between artwork and frame to avoid staining and also separating the frame from the wall for the same reason.

Image 2: Marie Lenclos, 'Bridge Painting, Loughborough Junction'
Black walnut tray frame with single maple spline, dart shaped coving to exterior edges and converging rounded mitres. Inspired loosely by bat-wing frames made for ethnologist and photographer Edward S. Curtis.

Image 3: Marie Lenclos, 'Railway Arch'
Shallow scooped tray profile with rounded back edge and single sapele spline milled from a unique piece of quilted sapele.

Tray Frames
4. Joinery Details

Considering that the principle of tray framing is so simple, our focus is on achieving details that will set the work apart such as experimenting with and involving joinery techniques that are not so often seen in framing.

Tray Frames
5. Double lipped trays

Double lipped trays are an interesting way to add size and presence to smaller works that require more than a slim outline.

The proportions in the frame can be designed to draw on elements in the work.
It is effective to use a very slim slip around the work itself that in height is almost level with the depth of the work, then a recessed border surrounded by a thicker and slightly taller frame.