Fitting small oil into large frame


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Nov 19, 2003
Orange County, CA
We all have 'em ... weird customers ... this morning I had a call from one of them asking me to visit her home ...

She has this STUNNING portrait (oil on canvas), framed beautifully ... that she HATES! She commissioned it, and loved it for one day, and has hated it ever since.

She has this small (boring/ugly) painting (24x20) that she LOVES (also oil on canvas) that she insists on fitting into the frame from the beautiful portrait (that measures 32x32).

She says she knows that you don't use mats on oils but she wants a black silk/satin mat with a fillet. And she wants the oil centered and knows that the sides will be smaller than top & bottom. And no she doesn't want a weighted bottom.

There's no arguing with her.

So, I'm pondering the best way of proceeding and welcome any ideas. Right now I am contemplating 6" wide flat liner, joining then ripping 2" off each side, then doing a continuous wrap. But I'm not sure where to source 6" flat liner. I've looked in Foster's catalog and a few other places but have come up empty so far. Another alternative would be to cut an opening in a sheet of ply or MDF then route a rabbet, before wrapping.

Other suggestions or thoughts please! :confused:
How about mounting the canvas onto a 32 x 32” slab of masonite then building up the outside with strips of foam board to the level of the canvas? Once you’ve done that you’ve got support for her favorite mat and fillet.

Whatever you come up with, be sure to charge her a PITA fee, though.
Bill ... how would you mount the canvas to the masonite? Screws thru the masonite into the strainer?
Gee, Andrew, I hadn’t thought that far ahead!

But, depending on the depth of the stretcher bars, I would probably screw two 1/2” offset clips onto the masonite with the open end up and hang the portrait from the inside from them. Just make sure that the offsets are placed as far apart as you can manage so that the portrait doesn’t slip horizontally. I would avoid screwing something directly into the stretcher bars themselves.

If you “pack” the strips of foam board snugly against the side of the stretched canvas, that should help keep the portrait from slipping, too.

Actually, I’ve done something similar with smaller (~ 8 x 10) stretched oils. It’s not a great solution, but it keeps the customer from whining.
Paul ... No new frame ... dear sweet lady ... but strong minded and pedantic.

Also the fillet she wants is one that will not match the frame she is using but will coordinate with two other antique frames that sit to either side of the one in question!

A headache for sure!
Anyone have a source for 6" flat liner stock? Still want to explore this option.
Cut a 8 ply mat for stability, put the fillet in.
Cut a plain square top frame, studio 26901, the same size as the canvas. Place it over the canvas (like you were framing the art backwards) and hot glue the frame to the matboard, fill in the rest with foamcore to the edge of the mat. The trick is finding the right height on the frame you glue to the mat. I've done this numerous times and it's a lot easier than cutting liner stock. Hope this was clear.
What a coincidence -- I had a similar job just last week, but in smaller dimensions. I made a sink mount for the stretched canvas using polyflute layers lined with alphacellulose board, and backed it all with a frame-sized sheet of polyflute. The assembly overfilled the frame's rabbet, so I added a back box.

No problem.
I ended up with a custom spandrel routed from 3/4" MDF ... beautifully machined for me at Frames Plus Woodworks in Oceanside CA. I have used them several times and they always do a great job. I recommend them highly. If you use them tell Eric I sent you!
And here's the completed result ... and that's my framer sitting next to the painting.