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Framing largre photo with no mats


CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Jul 20, 2005
Today a woman came in with a large photo of her two kids. She wanted it framed with no mats. Me, being in the business for only 6 weeks now, said "no problem" with a load of confidence.. and off she went. Now I got thinking, I can't frame it with the glass right up against it can I?

So fellow grumblers, here's another one for ya. What can I use for spacers? and how can I make them invisible?

I love you guys! you've been so good to me helping my business get off to a great start. People said at 22 with no post highschool education we'll never make it work. But now I say it would have never worked without you guys! Oh and props to Paul Cascio. Thanks again and thanks in advance for answering my question!
There's no definition of what constitutes "large", but if we're talking about 16 x 20 or something, quite often we use a liner and a frame ... the glass goes between the two....
You can also get FrameSpace, which is an s-shaped extruded plastic stuff that latches onto the glass. It is an easy way to lift the glass off the work...
FrameSpace or what is commonly called a Spacer (thin plastic liner, hidden), to separate the piece from the glass.

You should charge for that whenever a customer opts for no mats, it is not that expensive, but it should always be used to separate art from glass.
If your are dealing with glass very close to a photo, be very careful not to let the glass rest on the photo at any time. You will find on many photos that the glass can scratch the image very easily.
I can't frame it with the glass right up against it can I?
For the benefit of the F.A.C.T.S. police, no you can’t. Ideally, spacers should be used to separate the glass from the surface of the photo.

But, in the real world, practical picture framing situation, I have been known to let the glass be in contact with art, including non-glossy photos. Newton’s Rings are more likely to occur with gloss surfaces (I have yet to see it with a matte finish), and ferrotyping (not exactly the correct term, but suggesting that glass can stick to the surface of a photo) can occur with a glossy photo under the right environmental e.g. humid, conditions. Again, I have yet to see this occur with a matte finish.

I have a general love/hate relationship with the “S” shaped spacers that Ellen has suggested. When supported by spacers, all of the pressure points on the glass are on it’s perimeter instead of being distributed evenly. IMHO, the glass is more likely to break, thus tearing the surface of the photo.

If the rabbet depth of the moulding is too shallow, you may not have enough room for the spacer without having to use offset clips or turn buttons to fit the frame. Having the frame ‘package’ extend beyond the back of the moulding presents its own problems with security.

If the rabbet width of the moulding is too narrow, you may be able to see the frame space when viewing at only a slight angle.

I realize that I may be criticized for my heresy, but, if the photo has a matte finish, you may be okay not using spacers as long as the glass is squeaky clean and you do not slide the glass over the surface of the photo while you are fitting the frame.

If it is a glossy photo, you are almost obligated to use a spacer.
Is this photo mounted?

If not, I think you're going to have to hinge it to the backing board for support. Otherwise, you're going to end up with a saggy, rippled photo. Don't depend on pressure from the spacers to hold the piece in place.

One of the reasons that contact between the glazing and the surface of the art (any art, not just photos) is discouraged, aside from the abrasion possibility, is that the contact point between the surface of the art and the glazing is the point where water will condense in the frame given the right circumstances.
Sudden changes in temperature & humidity, like here in the summer...inside 74/70, outside 95/98, can cause almost spontaneous condensation on both the inside and outside of the glazing. In the best of cases, nothing bad happens, but in a worst case scenario the water contacts dormant mold spores and you get a bloom inside the fame within a few days/weeks.
So, unless the cost of replacement of the photo is less than the cost of installing shims (spacers), I would err on the side of caution and keep the glazing and art from touching.
Photo is 24" X 20" and she wants it permanently mounted to foam board. It's on gloss.. this change anything?
Makes your life easier is all. Use spacers, you'll be good to go.

What kind of "permanent" mount do you propose, and what kind of foamboard?
When messing with a photo you can't drymount, one way to get around the lip width vs. spacer width problem is to add a fillet to the frame. This allows you to use a wider spacer to hold the thing down more securely.

I love it when I can go ahead and d/m them. Then I can use any spacer I want.
The suggestion of adding the fillet to the frame
to extend its rabbet width (lip) is most useful.
If the edges of the photo are to extend under the
spacer, the bottom of the spacer should be covered
with something soft, like blotter paper, and the
edges of the photo should not be pressed too firmly against it. If the client insists on leaving the glazing out, the frame should be hung
so that its upper edge comes away from the wall,
in the Victorian manner, to keep dust from settling on the surface of the photo.

sounds good.. She wants NG glass so I can't space it too far off the photo. Is a 5/16 from framespace enough?

Also i'm using photo mount to black/black FC (tougher surface than white)