Oval frames

Jay H

PFG, Picture Framing God
Dec 8, 2003
A customer asked about them. Ive never messed with them. I think this could be a big sale. She wants an oval frame, glass, and mat. Where do I get em and what do I need to know about them so that I don't make any mistakes? She already knows this is a very expencive product. I want to sell her what she wants. Thanks
Jay, I used to inventory a good selection of oval frames. At some point, I realized that I personally didn't care for the look of an oval mat inside an oval frame. Often, they look like a bulls-eye target to me. Also, because of size limitations, it's not always possible to have the oval window proportional to the oval frame. Just to my eye, that looks bizarre.

More often, if the image requires or benefits from an oval mat window, I'll make a rectangular - or, occasionally, an octagon - frame.

Normally, now, if I use an oval, it's with spacers and no mat. BTW, spacers in an oval frame are a special challenge. I usually cut a 3/16" mat from rag board and hide it under the frame rabbet.

You've heard Inline Ovals mentioned many times on The Grumble. Also, check out Presto. They have a very large selection of ovals, circles, fan frames, etc.

I had some ovals that warped so badly before we used them, that they seemed determined to fold themselves in half - another reason I don't keep any sitting around any more. They weren't Presto or Inline, though.
I will check them out.

She bought the print in Australia, and she said it had in an oval frame and mat. My first opinion would be to avoid the mat also. But what do you do if the print doesn't go in the frame just right without a mat??? I’m not sure how my Wizard and me would get along with this one either. But she said she gave $1,100 for the print. She didn't buy the frame or mat because she couldn't get them on the plane, and I'm willing to give it a shot. Thanks again!
Jay, I'm sure it's just another case of those damned Aussies taking advantage of the simple-minded American tourists.

For future help in these situations, consider making a wall-model with an oval frame and oval mat - maybe a double or triple mat. Drill a hole in the center of the glass or acrylic and insert a dart. That should make your "point."

Then, along side of it, display an oval mat in a rectangular frame and prepare a little speech about contrasting shapes and forms. Practice it every day before you open the shop - just-in-case.

Is she prepared to have her $1,100 print physically cut to fit in an oval frame?

Have you considered a regular frame and mount/mat with an oval cut out for the print!!!....just a thought…
One of the first things I framed for a customer was a cross stitch, worked mostly in shades of yellow. She wanted an off-white mat and an oval frame that wasn't quite in proportion to the piece.

I was too inexperienced to try to talk her out of it.

The finished project looked exactly like a fried egg.

This episode left no lasting scars. Sometimes an oval frame is just right, especially when several small pieces are hung in a group. It can be a nice idea to break up all the straight lines of rectangular frames.

InLine Ovals has a nice selection of oval frames and the convex glass to fit them.

I agree and understand 100% BUT, she has already seen it framed and matted. How do I tactfully talk her out of what she already thinks this thing needs? Im afraid it might look like I CAN'T do the job. As a new shop, I would avoid this type of perception to no end.

All this talk of multi-thousand dollar exotic vacations and art give me the jitters. I start to consider that person the expert on all things. Including frame design. :D < this is the smile I have while I say "Ohhhh that sounds beautiful. Bring that in with you next time I will see WHEN I can get that done for you!" Maybe i'll grow out of that someday.
Oh, I like the fried egg image much better than the bulls-eye. You could display the wall-model with a couple strips of bacon!
See and I spent all this money showing how thing SHOULD be framed.

This business stuff sure does have a learning curve to it!
Jay, I'm leaving for some appointments now, so I'm leaving Kit in charge, but I have a final thought for you.

No matter how good your framing skills are, one of the toughest things for new framers or shop owners is finding the balance between being assertive and confident with your customer and being downright pushy.

It gets easier with repeat customers. You get comfortable with their needs and they get comfortable with your skills. They will begin to rely more on your expertise and it's easier for them to make the leap-of-faith that the whole process really requires.

For now, give her what she wants. You can wean her off oval frames later on.
Oh-oh-Ovals! Another one of my "favorite" projects....

I couldn't agree more with Ron about how they look and it is so hard to work with them - I discourage their use....

But I must admit that prior to our marriage my husband was the proud owner of a beautiful Clydesdale print double matted in an oval frame - that I absolutely love and adore!!!! It hangs in our front foyer... and it is more antique-y than I normally like but it compliments the antique oak/guilded frame that has a vintage botanical print that my mother saved from a fire many years ago.

It is worth the effort if it will be a piece like the above mentioned... and especially if the customer saw it framed that way.... Just charge accordingly!!

I like ovals. But I don't do oval mats on any of them. I don't like the look nor do I like the time it takes to cut them and fit them into the package.

Most oval frames don't have enough rabbet space to use matting and the convex glass takes up more space than a flat glass does.

Even so, I like the finished look of an oval frame and recently did a bid on doing a minimum of 60 oval framings for a local fund raiser. No mats, a laser engraving in each and convex glass. It will amount to a sizable order when they get the image done so I don't badmouth the hand that may feed me tomorrow. :cool:

Jay, one of the things a person is paying for when they come to you with their framing projects is the benefit of your expertise.

Don't short-change your customers.

If, after receiving your input, they still want to go with their original idea that's their choice. You owe it to them to make sure that it is an informed choice.

And maybe the thing really does look best in an oval frame and mat. I'm not clear whether your reluctance stems from aesthetic objection or a perceived difficulty in working with ovals. If it's the latter, don't worry about it - they're not that hard.

I just told her that I have been working with some moulding companies to get some oval frames. I left it at that because I don't want to cloud the fact that I want this thing to come through my door. I'll decide what to recommend when I actually see it.

My fear is that I order the frame and find out that the print doesn't "match" the oval of the frame. How do you hide 1/2" of backer board showing at the top of a frame (just kidding!)? If she wants a mat and I don't think it would look like poop (or an egg)I would rather do that anyway. I can cut mats all day cheaper than I can sit on a frame that isn't the same "oval" as the print I'm fitting in the frame.

She said she is extremely busy until the elections. I'm sure I'll have more specific questions when I actually get my hands on it and we decide to use an oval frame.
Jay--I just got three ovals from Presto. I'm not familiar with your Wizzad, but cutting the oval double mats was a piece of cake on my Fletcher. I suggest you consider getting the glass from the same place you get the frame and specify that they check fit before shipping.

One thing that you may not know about, the arc of most ovals is pretty standard so a 16x20 oval will be the same relative size no matter which brand you buy. If she has an image already cut to an oval size, and it is a standard size, chances are it will fit into a standard frame.

The problem you may face is somebody cutting it into an oval shape that isn't a standard size and proportional to the measurements of that particular size. This happens occasionally when an image is bought in a foreign country and it is laid out with 2 nails and a string to mark the oval. That may require a custom built oval frame to come close to the actual size of the image.

That is exactly what I was thinking. That was my hesitation in ordering a frame for a print with this type of history! Some test cuts with the wizard would quickly tell me if it was a standard arc though.