Collector Plate Framing ...........


PFG, Picture Framing God
Apr 12, 2001
Destin, Florida
I wonder how many of you have had clients come in with collector plates that they wanted framed?

I have framed about 400 or these little gems and I thought I would pass along some of my ideas for framing them fast with an eye for design and a very unique final appearance. Wild Wings frames these "ain't"!

First of all, I try to plan ahead every step in the cutting process for the mats because some of my designs have rings or floating pieces that have to be cut out of the opening prior to the opening actually being cut (doesn't that put a few lumps in the mashed potatoes?) :D

Here is a simple plate frame which shows what can be done at minimum to enhance the looks of an otherwise so-so collectible.


The back of most collector plates has all the information about the plate so I show the back through the backing board and dust cover as seen below.


Here are a few single plates that are done basically the same way as the first one.

This one is a basic octagon frame with a floating ring inset around the plate. It was done in black suede so there isn't much detail in this poor photo. By lengthening 2 of the sides, (either vertically or horizontally, you can create a multiple plate frame for as many as 4 or 5 plates.)


This one was more difficult to cut. The floating rings had to be cut before the final opening in each matboard. Alot of planning goes into these more advanced framings.


The next photo shows the depth of the shadowbox and how each element is stacked in the display.


Another simple plate showing how the plate is down in the depths of the shadowbox.



Mats are cut as needed but some cuts have to be made before others to get the parts of the design to come out before it is too late to cut them. The floating rings around some of the plates have to be cut first before the large opening and the spacers also are cut while the settings are there.

Attaching the plates was something of a chore for me. I contacted the AIC when I started doing these and explained how I wanted to build these shadowboxes and they recommended using silicone adhesive to attach the plates to the rear backing board. It doesn't harden and it can be removed without harming the glazing on the plates. Trying to chip hardened glue off of a plate would surely do damage to the surface of the plate.

I will post another thread showing multiple plate framings. I would reallly like some feedback on these plates as I have done them here in a rather isolated area and really don't know how others are doing plates.

Tom these are great. Please post something about taking the photos at an angle to see the depth of the plate before someone complains that they are "lop-sided"! :rolleyes:

Really good job, Tom, and something to hang in the shop for teasers. Didn't someone post sometime back that we shouldn't use silicone anymore? I have in the past but thought it was now a no-no?? (I'm guessing that AIC means American Institute of Ceramics?
Thanks Betty, I think that you just did.


I got this information from the AIC (American Institute of Conservation, Washingtion, D.C.)back in the early '90's. I personally would like to see some FACTS on using silicone instead of somebody's "professional" speculation on whether it should or shouldn't be used for certain applications.

If the concern is towards user health, my gosh, we are using many products that carry more risk than silicone adhesive. Read the MSDS sheets on UnSeal, many 3M products, and many of the finishes and stains and fillers that are used every day in frame shops! That's not to say that there is a certain risk involved in using silicone adhesive. There is a certain risk in driving on ANY highway that also is carrying a drunken vehicle operator but people still have to get to point B eventually.

I checked out all of the available methods of mounting plates at the time and I feel that this method is the least damaging to the plate in the long run.

Tom, (or anyone else of course) I just had a customer bring in a brass plate that was made in India for a "Farmers for Peace" group (I don't have the exact wording here. I'll post it later)to be given to JFK, but before the farmer could get back and present the plate, JFK was assassinated.

They found it among the farmer's things when he died. Obviously one wouldn't want to silicone this :eek: but how would a sink mat or something similar hold it in place. There is no writing on the back that needs to show, but the plate does "step down" (or out).



The reason for using silicone in my framing is to keep the 24k gold plate edge from contacting the glass. This is done in virtually all of the "factory" made plate frames that you see in Wild Wings catalogs and elsewhere and the constant wall vibrations will eventually damage the gold plate rim.

My first thought is that there isn't a decorative rim to wear off of this brass plate. Therefore you could possibly mount it against the glass with minimal damage to the plate edge. Another thought would be to use non-scratch Acrylite in place of glass. Granted, it probably would scratch a circle on the inside of the Acrylite over a period of time from wall vibrations but it may not be so noticeable as to be objectionable.

If you are going to attempt a complicated framing such as the "Cinderella" plate with floating rings and spacers, make sure that you plan out where your cuts will be made ahead of time. You will always work from the center outward so, if you want to cut a floating ring out of a particular mat, you would not cut the final opening first. You would cut the opening in the ring first, then cut the ring to size, and then cut the final plate opening.

This thing is a brass plate with silver and copper carvings on it. Very ornate. It says,"To President John F. Kennedy of USA From the Members of Indian Farmer's Delegation Of Bharat Krishak Samaj." It weighs about a pound and a half.

I'm also concerned about tarnishing since it is brass. We're not going to do anything decorative to the mats because it is so ornate. Just a neutral suede mat and a slightly reddish (cherry color) frame that looks very good with the copper on the plate.

The raised figures around the edge, which look like flowers and birds, might scratch the glass or acrylic In the center of the plate that is recessed there are (what I call) typical "India" figures. You know, big things on their heads, little "dot" type of things on the foreheads, etc.

I'm thinking, maybe some type of clips around the edges to hold it in place. I thought of a sink mat, but, I don't want to place any of the matboard over the edge of the plate.

Still thinking on it...


Could you build a platform in the bottom of the shadowbox with a groove in it to rest the bottom edge of the plate in? (Just enough of a groove or slit to allow the plate edge to sink into the platform about a quarter inch.)If you placed the groove closer to the surface of the glass so it tipped the plate back against the back mat, you could then use 2 clear mighty mounts to hold the top edge of the plate against the back of the shadowbox? :confused:

Maybe you could find a nice Madras fabric to cover the platform and back mat with somehow. I am just throwing out ideas as they come to me so don't feel like you will hurt my feelings if it sounds kinda hoaky.

But you want to show as much of the plate as possible without compromising the mounting of the plate. I can see this in my mind as looking pretty much OK. But, then my mind is a bit cloudy at times.