• WELCOME Grumblers
    Backup is now done at 3PM EDT. You may find the server down for up to two minutes at that time.

When is enough too much?? ...............


PFG, Picture Framing God
Kirstie asked some questions on another thread she started about the use of barriers on fabric wrapped mats and liners and what to do with wood products that are used in the near vicinity of the surface of artwork. I decided to start another thread about this rather than frankenthread her thread and lose the point of her questions for her.

Since I just recently got all the tar and feathers off me from the last time I challenged a set of ideas here, I want to approach this from a theoretical point of view. I hope that the ensuing brawl isn't too bloody and you all come out with some kind of perspective on when and when not to pull out all the stops.

In this age of such a strong throw away society, I wonder when it is considered overkill or maybe a waste of money on the consumer's part to apply all these "rules" and correct procedures to the items that our customers bring to us?? We speak so strongly about making every penny we can to further our businesses in the shortest time we can possibly devote to each individual job but then we seem to get so intense about how we do this work and are so hung up on the complexities of doing every little thing in such a correct manner that it takes us forever to do a simple procedure. There has to be a break point where we can honestly ascertain that the items we are working with don't need total preservation framing! Kirstie made a statement about using 2 ply mats for a barrier on fabric wrapped mats for an example, and she stated that the 2 ply had to extend past the very edge of the mat to be a functional barrier and thus would show. I have a differing opinion of that statement in the real world that we work in day to day but I am wondering if this is something that is crucial to proper framing for the rest of you or is it overkill to not use a 2 ply rag for that purpose for that reason??

Much of what we see today isn't the irreplaceable heirlooms or valuable original artwork that has proved its worth with an appreciated value on the open market, it is stuff that is digitized, photo-copied, less expensive articles that are used for decoration in homes that will possibly be sold in a few years in favor of a larger glitzier building or decorator pieces that will move out with the next change of furnishings or wall color. The value of things that are being framed seems to be of little concern to many of the customers that come in with custom framing, they are concerned about one and only one thing. This begs the question in my mind as to whether we are not sometimes fussing about things that are of concern to only the framer and to nobody else???

I know that there are very few on this forum who will openly admit to doing anything that could be remotely considered the "wrong" thing to a customer's art or items to be framed, that is quite obvious from the responses on most any thread when a question is posed concerning the use of a product or procedure that may be either considered wrong or at least in the controversial grouping of stuff that we discuss. The use of glues and adhesives comes to mind almost instantly.

So when are all the extremes of preservation framing procedures just simply too much for the job in your opinion??? I doubt that there will be many who will admit to very much for fear of the backlash that usually occurs when anyone takes a controversial side of most any issue brought to light here but I am curious as to what you think about this subject?

So, if the mudpit is ready, let's .............................. git 'er done!!!!
Sponsor Wanted


MGF, Master Grumble Framer
. . .

I know that there are very few on this forum who will openly admit to doing anything that could be remotely considered the "wrong" thing to a customer's art or items to be framed, that is quite obvious from the responses on most any thread when a question is posed concerning the use of a product or procedure that may be either considered wrong or at least in the controversial grouping of stuff that we discuss. The use of glues and adhesives comes to mind almost instantly.

So when are all the extremes of preservation framing procedures just simply too much for the job in your opinion??? I doubt that there will be many who will admit to very much for fear of the backlash that usually occurs when anyone takes a controversial side of most any issue brought to light here but I am curious as to what you think about this subject?

So, if the mudpit is ready, let's .............................. git 'er done!!!!
Great topic!!!!!! This should be very interesting, and I for one can't wait to read the responses. Tie your shoes on, Framerguy!


True Grumbler
I think this is an excellent topic.

I used to work in a frame shop where conservation was not really a concern, unless the piece was worth big bucks, and then the owner would come in and handle the piece (plus those pieces were most often from his friends.)

Then I worked in a shop that stressed conservation perhaps a little too much. They had us line practically every frame with metal barrier tape and it was an abomination to use any adhesive in any way on the artwork,

Now that I work somewhere else, and am working on opening my own store my philosophy is and has been that I ask them what value the piece has, can it be replaced? Will you want it re-framed? If it is an original in practically any way, I do suggest conservation, even if it is their child's art. That cannot be replaced if it turns yellow. But the movie poster for the latest music artist most certainly can be replaced, and therefore does not need conservation techniques, in my mind. Digital photos? They can easily be reprinted for about .25 cents, I use framers tape and hinge it in two spots to the mat.

No need for overkill, but there is a need to offer proper techniques when they are necessary.


Angry Badger
I once asked Tom (AKA Framerguy) why was it that he would hit himself in the forehead with a hammer.

His response was.....

because it feels so good when I quit.

Go Fish!


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I kinda agree.
We try to give our customers several educated options and let them make their own decision as to what they feel is best for them or their object to be framed.
Some times it is like a test. Are they feeling us out to see if we are going to treat them fairly. Many times we have done inexpensive framing on inexpensive art only to have them come back and get the best possible on some of their treasures. We feel that most of our regular return customers have come to trust us and pass it along to others.
Of course their are some things we will refuse to do and most of our customers respect that and are ok with it.
We also get the customer; Nope I don't want to stretch that canvas I only paid XX $ dry mount is good enough!(please sign disclaimer)
We try to keep on top of value, but what might be valuable to us is not to them and visa versa. After all it is their property and their buck.
We believe the more they trust us the more bucks for us in the long run.
Of course you loose some, kinda like fishing some are keepers and some you through back, you might catch them again when they have grown to be keepers.
So basically we try to respect the customers wishes and do the best that we can for them:beer:


PFG, Picture Framing God
Preservation Upgrade

No argument here. When we last changed our prices in March, we added an extra service: Preservation Upgrade. This is all the procedures, and more, mentioned in this thread in addition to the usual acid-free mats and backing, UV glass, etc. We did this just because of what you, and also Nona Powers have said several times, not everything we frame is more than decorative quality. We do decorative framing of travel memorabilia, photos, posters, prints, and the like. We protect the obvious in our DIY area, and in the custom shop we go a bit further in the hinging. But beyond that, we now have an extra charge for the 50K original Paul Klee sketch or the Motherwell painting on canvas. And even on this latter piece the client did not want the piece restretched even though it was on bare stretcher bars. I'm glad he didn't--there's only so much stress I can take. He also refuses a solid backing on the back of all his valuable canvases because he wants to be able to take them off the wall and see the back of the canvas. So now I have learned to ask in such situations and explain the preservation options on very valuable pieces.

This remind me that I now have to have a staff meeting to explain all this, because there it is, new on the price list, and no one is selling it.

Rick Granick

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Kirstie, that sounds like a sensible approach. As for the backs of those canvases, maybe you could offer to create a "dust cover" of clear melinex, or even a clear acrylic backing screwed to the back of the frame. The thought of something poking through the canvas gives me the willies.
:kaffeetrinker_2: Rick


PFG, Picture Framing God
There are basically two types of framing that we perform. There is Parlor Framing, this is the most basic framing that is done primarily to decorate someones home or parlor. Preservation materials may or may not be used depending on the piece being framed, the primary goal is the end presentation, not necessarily the preservation of the piece being framed.

Then there is archival framing, this is where the preservation of the piece being framed is primary above all other considerations. You have to remember that the very act of displaying anything in the open light and air is actually contrary to preserving it. However, with the materials available to us today, we can get awfully darned close.

The job of the framer is the ability to explain the differences to their customers so that the customer can make an informed decision on how to proceed.

There are to many framers who think it is their responsibility, and theirs alone, to preserve everything that comes to them, for all time.

Myself, I think this approach is overkill, and probably less than an intelligent approach to looking after the customers needs.

I guess it can be best explained that there are just some framers who blunder through their lives either overdoing it or under doing it. There IS a middle ground, and that middle ground primarily is owned by the customer, not the framer.

It is our job to inform properly, so our customers can figure out what they want to do.



PFG, Picture Framing God
As for the backs of those canvases, maybe you could offer to create a "dust cover" of clear melinex, or even a clear acrylic backing screwed to the back of the frame. The thought of something poking through the canvas gives me the willies.
:kaffeetrinker_2: Rick
Rick, would melinex be strong enough to protect from poking through? Which leads us to the ever-popular topic on glazing canvas. If you're concerned with poking through the back, why not be concerned with the exposed front as well? (I know you are, I'm talking in general terms, here). My, have times changed.

We had this discussion yesterday at my shop. If I have that gut feeling that tells me it should be treated with all the bells and whistles, I make the recommendation to the customer and ultimately it's their decision. On the other hand, I have a just-a-crayon-drawing my daughter did when whe was 3, priceless to me, and wish I hadn't dry-mounted it 24 years ago (spray adhesive) to regular foam core with paper mats and regular glass, because now it looks awful, but it's still priceless to me! I wish we had a crystal ball that tells us how important or valuable art will be years from now.

For me, when in doubt, treat it as if it is valuable, monetarily or otherwise, now. My recommendation, but the customer's (now informed) decision.

I have damaged art and needlework samples in my shop to back up my recommendations, so they can see for themselves, and not think I'm just trying to upsell them to something it may not need. How often do we hear from them "Oh, there's no direct sunlight in my house, I don't need UV glass", or "I'll keep it dusted, gramma's crocheted doily doesn't need any glass over it, I'm a good enough housekeeper, I'll make sure no-one ever touches it." or "It's just-a-kid's-drawing, it's only important to me sentimentally". Then I whip out my gramma's dirty doily and my daughter's yellowed and faded "lady-bug-with-a-million-legs" crayon drawing an Uncle Clarence's beautiful oil painting with the tear in it, and it has an impact.

Ultimately....their choice. Against my recommendation? They sign a statement that says so.

Edit: And yes...I guess I just said what JRB just said. We were typing at the same time.

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Several years back, Crescent had a "Good, Better, Best" campaign where they outlined how their mat boards could be used to provide various levels of protection tht most framers typically would need

I thought it was a most pragmatic approach to the needs of what our stores normally framed; mostly posters and prints, some LE's and Originals; som family type keepsakes and documents

The folks at Crescent said they received so much negative response from framers that they pulled the campaign

I think if we are professional, we know what type of framing best suits the needs of the products we frame

For us we do all three and use the Good, Better, Best protocol. I wish we did mostly Best framing, but the stuff consumers frame makes that decision

Jay H

PFG, Picture Framing God
"I know that there are very few on this forum who will openly admit to doing anything that could be remotely considered the "wrong" thing to a customer's art ..."

I do it every day. Irreplaceables and valuables don't belong in a frame. On the rare occasion a customer pushes conservation, I give them the "it don't belong in a frame" speech. Maintenance on an air conditioner may extend its life but it won't make it last forever. You could change your air filter daily but won't add life to the compressor, just keep your coil cleaner.

That’s similar with framed items. With enough maintenance you can extend its life but eventually, it's trashed and light seems to be the weakest link. I've seen things with UV glass and paper mats and the fading still beats out all the other evils in a frame. The best mats and mounting and barriers and spacing and zeolites can't save most things. If it’s to be hung in light, customers need to know that all a framer can do is postpone the inevitable.

IMO over promising framing is far more common and dangerous than using less than the best everything!


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I know I can get carried away on the overkill, but those pieces sometimes really do deserve some top of the line framing.

I still won't go back to using paper mats...........


Angry Badger
Considering what else has been said, I think Informed Consent is the strongest thing we have working for us. Whatever your protocol, the customer's understanding of the risks comes first.


PFG, Picture Framing God
However, I can almost guarantee you that if the customer wants to do something that shouldn't be done, such as a) trim a s/n print or 2) drymount same and LATER they find out that what you said was true and now the value is gone gone gone, said customer won't remember how you told them that was Not Recommended Framing Practice, but will blame you for not being the expert.

It is rare that we don't do good minimal preservation framing practice (rag mats, reversible attachment to rag mount board, UVF glass) because I don't like to be the one who decides which art is junk and which will be collectible. All you have to do is see what happened to the value of Nutting prints which used to be in department stores' home dec departments... and have you seen what an original Star Wars poster goes for these days? I may bend a little, but not often.

And it is interesting when we refuse to, say, trim a print (complete with explanation), then a new light of respect frequently dawns and the customer does it the way it should be done in the first place...


PFG, Picture Framing God
Ellen, this is the exact reason we have a big red rubber stamp that says, in capital letters: " CUSTOMER UNDERSTANDS THAT THIS TYPE OF FRAMING WILL DESTROY THE COLLECTIBLE VALUE OF THE PIECE BEING FRAMED!"




PFG, Picture Framing God
Some of this is neither in my hands nor my customers' hands. I only carry rag or alpha cellulose mats. No paper mats. So it simply isn't an option.

Although I do carry clear glass in addition to conservation and museum glass, rarely does a customer elect clear glass. Even if they are cost conscious, the difference between clear and conservation isn't that great. They usually opt for conservation. Especially because I don't even mention clear glass unless (1) the customer asks, or (2) the customer seems extremely price-sensitive and is looking for ways to cut the price down from $62 to $60.

As for mounting technique, my attitude is that I am the framer and the customer is not. So if it's on paper, the choices are between drymounting and a generic "conservation." I will decide the appropriate method of conservation framing, not the customer. I will drymount pretty much only if it's a photograph or a poster. If the poster has a signature on it, then it's conservation framing, and if the customer still has to have that signed poster drymounted, I'll use artcare restore. The price difference between drymounting and conservation mounting isn't that great either, so I just don't see why we should let our customers tell us the most appropriate way to do our jobs. I don't go to their workplace and tell them how to do their jobs. I don't tell them how to raise their kids (although I've had to bite my tongue a few times).

My general attitude is that the customers are "entrusting" me with something of importance to them, no matter how many times they say it is "just" a this or that. So I'm going to treat it with respect. That 3-year old child's crude drawing may turn out to be the earliest framed work by the next Hockney.

Jim Miller

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
It's the same question again.

How much preservation do you want?

I like Wally's term, "informed consent". If a customer understands the options and is capable of making informed decisions, then I'm good with that.

Trouble comes when customers and/or framers make incorrect assumptions about the protective value of the framing.

For example, customers often assume that deterioration can't be helped. Well, maybe it can't be stopped completely, but we sure can slow it down, and we can tell customers how to extend the life of anything framed by handling & displaying it correctly. As Jay said, light may be the worst issue. If customers understand how light damage works, they can use that information to avoid unnecessary damage.

Step One is for framers to know as much as possible about their methods and materials. For example, that 2-ply paperboard is not a suitable "barrier" against chemical migration. Over time, acid and other chemical nasties can migrate through a paperboard. So, 4-ply would last longer than 2-ply. A plastic sheet, such as polyester or acrylic, would be better. A gas-impermeable barrier (glass or metal) would provide complete protection against that chemical migration.

Preservation is not a yes-or-no, all-or-nothing issue. It is a matter of degree, as every part and procedure that goes into the framing package adds to or detracts from its protective value.
How much preservation do you want?:shrug:

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
This is another of those "vieing through our owm priszm" things

Two things come to mind:

We just don't have many customers, okay once in a blue moon, that come in telling us what they want. It just doesn't happen. We're the pros and it's up to us to use professional judgement. I have no problem with anyone's choice of default product, but there might be consequences of your judgement.

I often use the "oil change" scenario. Can you imagine if you went to get your oil changed and the only alternative Mobil-1 synthetic oil. No 30w or 10w-30w. And the attendant could give you line and verse of the virtues of synthetic oil

Except you are driving a 92 Altima

As a consumer, what's your next move?

Not every car (and consumer) desreves/wants a $69.95 oil change and pretty much bet the farm that 99.9% of the cars are worth more than 99.9% of the art we frame

Life has choices and options; it's up to us to determine and offer what the consumer needs and wants

And, the second thing is that the consumer can and does vote

So, how many of you use synthetic oil exclusively?

stud d

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I will be quick my ice cream is melting...

So I agree with Tom, I think we as an industry are beaten over the head with Preservation, Archival, Acid Free, Conservation...yadyada.

So why are we not doing so well as an industry? Is it because we are making so many desicions that are customers can not afford to pay for? Are we saying you need ABC and 123? Or could we say and be honest with our customers, this is a nice digital print of a flower. Is it replaceable? Is this going to be with you for ten years, or ten minutes till you get something else? If they say the latter, well ok we could do this and this,

I guess we could give them a better design if we thru some of the preservation stuff out the window?! So why don't we do this more? Why are we telling them you will pay for xyz and this means you get a poor design, because this is what you can afford?

I guess I am over it. Why can't we use paper mats? Why can't we use regular glass? They make it, why are we not using it? Are we to caught up in our own hype? Is this us pushing away customers and not listening to thier wants and needs?

I don't get it anymore. Don't get me wrong I have worked in the fancy smcanchy shop, I have had great expereinces, because i know how to apply what I have paid to learn. But when Joe comes in and wants something done, I just say make it happen.


back to my ice cream, cherry vanilla


PFG, Picture Framing God
Here's where we draw the line on preservation:

We dropped paper mats years ago because it just seemed pointless for the customer to spend good money framing anything, only to have the mat fade and the bevel darken and look ugly. For the few dollars more it costs us to buy acid free mats, it just makes sense to us. Same for UV glass. We carry regular because we put it in our ready made frames and our ready made supplier puts it in their frames. But 95% of the time we sell UV glass for custom and DIY. Why? Again, our feeling is that it is almost pointless for the consumer to spend good money to frame something only to have it fade in a short period of time.

Beyond that, in the DIY area, we use Lineco tapes, linen tape, and framers tape to hinge mats together. No, the tapes are not up to FACTS standards, but they will last a good long time and won't stain the art. No way could DIY customers handle mulberry paper and wheat starch.

On custom we add a couple more steps, depending on the nature of the art. Very valuable gets further treatment.

Our customers know that they are getting decent quality for thier money without us going overboard and charging for what they don't need. For example, as an experiment I talked with a customer today about a small canvas he brought in, painted in 1951. After playing around on Integrated Framer, we framed it in an LJ frame with a beaded fillet. As a result of our recent discussion here on the G, I mentioned the option of paying a bit extra to have us line the frame with barrier tape and put a solid barrier on the back along with acid-free backing paper. (Our preservation upgrade for canvas) He looked at me like I'd left the planet. Why bother? The canvas had no real value and was stretched on wood and would certainly last more than his lifetime. He and his wife just wanted it to look pretty on the wall.

Personally I find this discussion a huge relief. When I joined the Grumble early this year when trying to choose a CMC and visualization system, I felt intimidated by all the threads about how to become more and more perfect preservation framers. 30 years in framing, and I thought, Ack, I'm doing everything wrong! Now, 6 months later, I feel great, I love everything I am learning, and am putting it all in perspective.


Meghan MacMillan

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Recently, in a joking manner, as I was explaining some of the steps I take in the name of preservation my husband said "But if you do all that it will never need reframing." What's our legacy to the framers that come after us? What will they have to reframe?

Maybe then though they'll be cutting through tyvek dustcovers with their laser beams, finding coroplast ans snickering about how quaint it is.


In Corner
"But if you do all that it will never need reframing." What's our legacy to the framers that come after us? What will they have to reframe?
I pretty certain that if you are following the FACTS guide that it suggests that a frame should be checked every five years and up graded if necessary .................which would suggest that technology and materials for framing will advance in line with what is a normal five year business cycle .........


SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Isn't the problem Framers face , what they call things?

I don't think many if any think that even their best is PERMANENT. However some of the KEY PHRASES we use do indeed give that impression to a lot of people and all of them aren't just consummers. So why don't we all do what most here have suggested by a host of PHRASES also , Inform the public of just what we are capable of and to our best ESTIMATION how long it will last ( NEVER FOREVER ).

In that vain I truly suspect that the LIABILTY for what we do can be some what limited to "Are we useing the Best Knowledge, thechniques and Materials available to the trade at the TIME the work was done."

We all seem to agree that the above is continually evolving and and what was done decades ago and maybe years ago under the same guidelines wouldn't past muster today. That said should we hold those Good and Honest Framers of days gone by negligent for doing what was the STATE OF THE ART at that time?

However there are some who in an effort to make what they do seem just a bit closer to the unattainable PERMANENT use BUZ words that may and do give the impression that their work will last with no need for "Re inspections and upgrades every 5 years or so."

That causes many to think all extra care is just hype and added cost like the $69.95 synthetic oils when Very good natural oil last more than is neede to get to the next change even if over due.

There is nothing wrong with giving status seekers what that wish to pay extra for nor cutting cost for those who have a tighter budget , if they and we fully understand what they are paying for and we give them no false impressions.( IMO we can be held liable for what WE should know better about when the work is done reguardless of what the uniformed Status seeker/ Budget shopper ask for ) However the Customer should always have the FINALLY say . We just have to be sure that what we knew and told them is made very clear to them and anyone who owns the work latter.

But I also think there is a lot of MYTHS floating around about who causes any over zealous Framer to ONLY doe their BEST C/P work. I totally agree that when we use the BEST standards there can be no half stepping of any kind by the Standards of the day. However I have never seen any Group or association that says EVERY WORK deserves the BEST. And those who claim the "OTHER GUYS" do are adding to the CONFUSION and maybe CYA by makeing what they do look just a bit less wrong.

INFORM /EDUCATE all consummers and OURSELVES to the BEST ability of TODAYS standards and use language that ANYONE can understand and then let the Consumer choose . But always offer all the possibilities available and what their LIMITATIONS are and for what cost ( both now and later). In my experience Not even Hugh Phibbs feels everything needs the BEST ( True C/P) framing , but when he does use it I have no doubt it will be the BEST AVILABLE By the standards of TODAY and he will Upgrade it it as time goes own.


Jim Miller

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Sell value, not price.

Some framers equate protective framing with higher prices, thinking that if it's preservation framed, it has to be a lot more expensive. For example, an alphacellulose mat costs about twice as much as the cheapest board available, so that doubles the mat price. UV glass costs 50% more, so that difference applies to the retail price of the glass.

If you think like that, I suggest you are missing important details.

In my shop, alphacellulose mats, UV filtering glass, complete filler, a lignin free dustcover and premium hanging hardware add about 10% to the retail price of a typical frame design.

The actual difference in purchase cost of the materials is considerably more than that, but my cost for those materials represents less than one fourth of the total cost of the framing. Other cost factors, such as labor and overhead, remain constant and gross margin rate is about the same either way.

Here's the good part: A non-invasive mount, such as edge supports, hinges, or a clear film overlay actually costs about half of what a dry mount costs. Not only are the materials cheaper, but the labor time is less, as well. The difference in real cost is significant; a typical drymount costs me about $15 in labor and materials (not counting the cost of equipment or its floor space), but an edge support mount costs me about $6. However, the retail price of the non-invasive, non-adhesive mount is slightly higher than the dry mount, because it is worth more to the customer.

Selling preservation features is easy when they are appropriate, and customers will gladly pay that price difference of about 10%. We also talk about value-added features, such as decorative matting techniques and cutting patterns. Note that they cost exactly the same, whether applied to a RagMat or a CheapMat.

Selling an inappropriately-elaborate frame design amounts to overkill, whether the customer gives informed consent or not, and whether it is protective or not. That may lead to buyer's remorse.

The opposite of that is communicating with the customer and selling exactly what she perceives to be appropriate for the project at hand. In my shop, the price for the most appropriate design may be higher or lower than doing it the easy way, but I want my customers always to understand and appreciate what they're buying.

Inappropriate frame design leads to buyer's remorse. Preservation framing does not, unless the customer perceives it to be inappropriate.

One more thought: Customers may complain about fading or discoloration or a failed dry mount, but I have never heard a customer complain about framing being too protective or lasting too long.


SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Another Semantic Problem . Maybe Mine?

I looked back after making my post as I oft do to see if it was understandable .And more importantly if I made my point easy to follow.

I now fear I need to clarify a point a bit, thanks to Jim.

When I say things like," That causes many to think all extra care is just hype and added cost ," I didn't intend to mean that the cost of C/P what ever extent is excessive or disproportionate to the total job.

I suspect that when anyone thinks ( correctly or otherwise) that they bought something they didn't need ( buyer's remorse ?) They also think they could have spent less.

Some times that can be the C/P feature or just an extra regular paper mat that adds space. But I also agree that many things can be better ,but are they necessary and as such is any cost ( small percentage that they may be) seen as worth the price? That includes any addition includeing fancier designs. I have seen many competition designs that were definet Over kill and their cost would be total unwarranted.

I say this with the old commercial about "OIL CHANGES " in mind where the Dirty old mechanic says "Your Choice Pay me NOW , Or pay me later."

That add could be seen in a few ways IMO. It is very true that if you don't change your oil when it is needed you probably will be risking a engine overhaul. However Is there a oil that is use able that doesn't cost as much as the BEST/ Most expensive that will protect you engine until you choose to change the oil again? Of course Did the mechanic explain the the Synthetic oil that cost maybe 10 times as much will last maybe 3 times as long and longer than most will wait to change their oil again? But Both will protect the engine well enough to please the car owner's need ,if use as they should after the Mechanic explains the differeance?

But of course this is often compounded by the facts that consummers very often aren't aware of what percentage any given part of a total framing cost. And they naturally think the one they later have remorse about was the most expensive ( since they could have done with out it).
This is compounded even further when prices ( even Itemized ) are compared from one shop to another , since while we try to be competitive we often don't charge the same for each task/ material. This is as it should be based on theings like Location, overhead , skill etc. and can be seen here in comparisons as well as DECORES priceing surveys.

So price is important but not as important as is it necessary and if not is ANY price too much?

I hope I am being fairer and more easily understood.

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I must say that this is on eof the most civil threads on "preservation" that I can remember

If there is one thing we ought to agree upon, it is that there are many ways to do the same thing

We offer/use paper mats and reg glass.Paper Mats represent less than 30% of dollars spent on matting. (Our largest is suede-we use them to death; not because they are preservation quality, but that the depth of color is superb). And, I must say for our package offerings, paper works just fine because the stuff that goes into them, like Jerry's pickup, doesn't need to be that good

Perhaps fading and darkening of edges used to be true, but these paper mats of today are really a little better. I'll say that with a certain level of certainty because I can not get any manufacturer to share any "aging" testing. Bet the farm if the latest generation were not "better" that data wouldl be fothcoming

I will say that I have no argument with whichever mats you prefer to use, but we have a highly competitive market and our packages would not be as competitive if we used Alpha and UV glass

That $8.99 poster (that we see plenty of) is just like Jerry's pickup

Perhaps with as many frameshops as there are struggling, maybe picking up a few of those $8.99 poster framing jobs might be just the ticket. I think it was 2005 that I researched, but over 26 million of those $8.99 posters were sold. Let's say that only 10% were framed (2.6 million) and average price (for easy math) was $100

How much of that pie did you get

We know which oil Jerry's pickup gets, we know which oil his Cadillac gets and we know which mats that $8.99 poster gets in our shops

And we get more than our share of that pie, or so I am told

You don't need many SKU's to have a poster package

Rick Granick

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Bob- I understand the overall principles you are talking about, but I'm a little confused on this part:
Perhaps fading and darkening of edges used to be true, but these paper mats of today are really a little better. I'll say that with a certain level of certainty because I can not get any manufacturer to share any "aging" testing. Bet the farm if the latest generation were not "better" that data would be fothcoming
It seems like if the product is now better, the company would want to let people know that. Are you saying that if we were aware that the quality difference was smaller, we would be less inclined to buy the more expensive boards?

:kaffeetrinker_2: Rick


PFG, Picture Framing God
Big Box only acid free

Ugh...I just called Aaron Brothers. They only carry acid-free mats. 16 x 20 would be $16. for a frame brought in. I don't know what brand. I wonder if that was a ready made mad? probably not, those are cheaper, I think. Fitting $12-22.

Reading bob's post I wondered about adding a selection of regular mats. Now I don't think so.

They are my main chain store competition, they surround me on 3 sides. Michaels is just a hop, skip away.

Look at the framing section of thier web site. Pretty slick.

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Hey Rick-If my known goals were that I would only sell so many sheets of mat board to a community (indie retailers), not sure I would tout a lower priced alternative.

Assume you pay $8 sheet for Alpha and $4 for paper and you will buy 1000 sheets this year, do the math

I'm not suggesting that it's anything sinister; I'd do it, too, if I knew my market was finite

I'm just suggesting that we use the product safely for items that, like Jerry's pickup, may not "need" more. We can all argue that the "more expensive" oil is "better" for Jerry's truck, but as a consumer, he has "voted" otherwise

I think many "poster" clientele might agree

An easy solution, in my pea-brain, woul dbe to see some testing data that shows the harmful affect paper mats create. No one argues that Alpha-type are superior, but this thread is about "When is enough too much..."

I am simply pointing out the same economic reality that Jerry exercised

I'm also suggesting there are a lot "Jerry's" in the framing consumer community.

But, to your point, No, if I was a mat board mfgr, and I had a lesser product in both price and quality, I'm fairly certain that I would not tout it's improvement

Now, if you were a wholesale framer, I probably would send you a specifier for a line (with about 80 colors) desgned exactly what you needed knowing that price just might be a teensy bit of an issue

This isn't an "either/or" issue. But just like the mfgrs and probably all (any wholesale suupliers not carry paper mats?) wholesalers, they do sell this product and it has a place

If you feel it's in the trash can, I have no problem


SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Warning ;I am about to slightly FRANKENTHREAD

Kristie; I made that warning because we aren't talking about how much we should charge. But more importantly I don't know beans about Aaron Bros. The closest one is in Houston ( I checked when Mother-in-law wanted that Invitation done and I priced shopped-See my : "What I am left To ") however I did check out Michael's and while some have defaulted to non paper mats ( Alpha or Rag) even the ones that don't will be higher priced than most of your competition. The suede Mat I checked price on ( non C/P by what I remeber) 12X12 no opening was $45 .The same Michael's quoted me $15 for a FLOAT Glass lite 11X11. Both those Prices where for MATERIALS alone.

So where as Many Michael's and other BB have defaulted to Better Grade mats and Glazing the tales told about there pricing being Higher than most C/P or Non seem to be verified in this neck of the woods as I'll bet they are else where.( Check the Archives for that topic when you have a lot of time to read. LOL)

Besides don't you want to be a full service Framer ( regular and C/P ) ? Especially when Michael's and BB 's aren't ( either they have to special order the C/P materials or the regular paper mats or glazing)? Shouldn't a Good framer be able to do what ever is required by the Customer and KNOW all the differences and limitations and be able to inform anyone who ask?



PFG, Picture Framing God
I had a customer in today who arrived with a reproduction which she wanted done like she saw at the place she purchased it from, but for less. Or something like that. I finally got the idea that she wanted something very inexpensive. We had to settle on a 24 x 36 ready made frame (a nice natural maple) for about a 23.5 x 35.5 print with no mat. She wanted it mounted so we had to mount it on regular white foamcore with about 1/4" of the foamcore showing all around the print. So be it, but maybe, just maybe if I had a paper mat to offer her, I might have been able to make it look a bit better and increase the sale by a modest amount.

At the other design table were a woman and her daughter with the daughter's art. I heard the back and forth price discussion, saw the ready made being shown, and then heard the final decision, one of the newer, larger Roma Tabachinno mouldings, Fresh Hay solid core rag mat, acid free foamcore, UV glass. You just never can tell. As I complimented the design, the daughter turned and said to me with an 11 year old smile, "I just always seem to choose the most expensive things." Now if we had shown them a paper mat it would have complicated the decision and could have been a mistake.

I have found this whole discussion very interesting, and it has made me rethink my goals, my market, and what expanded selection of materials we might or might not eventually offer. No rash decisions, but all food for thought. There is much to think about and market research to be done. As my husband said to me at work today, "Your're kidding me, now we're going backwards?"

Go figure.


PFG, Picture Framing God
I must say that this is on eof the most civil threads on "preservation" that I can remember(....snip....)

You don't need many SKU's to have a poster package
Bob, from your research, how many different paper mats and metal frame colors are most framers offering? Are people offering Neilsen (#11, 15, 117? ) or are they going for the cheapo off brands? If anyone would care to share what they are doing, that would be interesting. Prices not necessary, just the general idea. If we looked at packages we would need to stock everyting because of the DIY component of the business. Gotta have it and have it now.

Had a customer in today who was quoted less at AB but came to us because we could offer 117 in some exotic blue.


PFG, Picture Framing God
We have our Howard's ValueLine mouldings- 30-50% off EVERY DAY! (closeouts, leftovers, well-boughts) and we sell a boatload of them.

We have our Poster Special (gold, silver or black metal-OEM from Larson- drymount, plain glass) $39.95 up to 18x24 and $59.95 up to 24x36. We don't sell many of those, but yesterday a corporation came in and spent $1000ish dollars on wall decor, pleased as punch because it was just in her budget.

So we believe you gotta have something for everyone in this day and age. We got your ready-mades, your budget line, your poster special and your full custom-gimme-lots-o'-cash line.

And, oh, yes... everyone gets treated as if their business is very important to us- because every dime in the register is a few pennies in my pocket and that IS very important to me.

And how are we doing? Very well, thanks for asking.

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I model my ValueLine just like Ellen's (why re-invent the wheel?)

We offer 7 metal finishes (all oem 5) and have 5 upgrades (always have an upgrade)

I would have to count the paper mats, but if it were more than 40, I'd be surprised

The point is that with paper/reg glass it shouldn't be "Choose One" from the consumer. Weare not a Chinese All You Can Eat place

We show what looks best from the material that needs to be used. If it's valuable, signed or even pretentiously valuable, we only show Archival Quality

If it's a Madonna poster and that perfect shade of Gothic Amethyst onlt comes in in Alpha, we do not tear the store apart looking for a specifier to see if it comes in paper. And, if a Roma looks great, then, great

But, we are a pretty low end place that attracts a lot of the great unwashed (we must get them all because most other framers seem to suggest that their operations are exempt) and price raises it's ugly head on occassion

So, that $8.99 Madonna poster that has ink that will fade quicker most Presidential candidates hopes, will get a paper/reg glass treatment so that we can save the time/effort/energy expended thus far and like Ellen, we will quickly put that $100 bill in the till

It's not an either/or choice to do it the way we want; but, often, it's an either/or choice if the consumer wishes to spend either $300 or $100 on The Material Girl

Hey, $100 order here, another $100 there an dat the end of the day it's real money. Throw in a couple of $200 and a couple of $300 orders and the next thing you know, you're on panels at the trade shows telling people how to grow their businesses

If we have clientele that need a product at a price level that we can sell profitably, then we will look carefully on how to make that work

If I am GM and the market wants SmartCars, then it's up to me to find a way to sell them profitably. Sure, i have to sell 5 SmartCars to equal one Cadillac, but a healthy blend creates a larger base

For me, I prefer to sell both the 5 SmartCars AND the Cadillac


PFG, Picture Framing God
My budget package is black wood, 1 1/4 inch square cap. That's the only moulding I buy in box quantity, unless I'm buying for a specific job. I keep it under the counter, and only pull it out if I absolutely need to. If someone comes in asking for just a plain black frame, I've got plenty of other undiscounted black frames I will show them first.

My budget package doesn't include metal frames, because I can't cut them in-house. Unless you have lots and lots of storage space, and money to burn, I don't think it makes too much sense to offer more than one or two options at this bargain-price level. If someone wants to spend no more than $65 to get their poster framed, they understand (or they should) that they don't get the same range of choices as someone who wants to spend $200 or $2000.


PFG, Picture Framing God
(all oem 5)?

Paul, we put our Value Line right out on display with a sign above the column which says VALUE MULDINGS and a gold arrow pointing down. Because most people aren't that interested in them anyway. But I always point them out when price becomes and issue and although only a few go that route, I think it is good for the customer to know we have a lower priced alternative for the next time.

On to the packages--I have checked package prices advertised at another framer in this area--prices quite a bit higher than in other parts of the country. More research to be done. Besides metal poster specials with mount, glass, are any of you offering any other packages? I am 2 blocks from UC Berkeley and we don't get a lot of 8.99 posters but maybe they are going elsewhere....gasp!

(all oem 5) OK, I understand Original Equipmnt Manufacturer, but what does this mean?


PFG, Picture Framing God
Owful Economy Moulding? hehehe

And BTW, Bob, I'm pretty sure I stole the ValueLine concept from YOU!

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
hey Paul-No criticism intended, but do you think that shops that sell Fine Wine don't show lots of bottles in the under $20 range as well as tyhe $200 and up variety

One of my favorite examples is my favorite meat shop. Right next to the Prime Rib Eyes and NY Strips will be ground beef

I don't think High End consumers are "turned off" by the more pedestrian mdse and the clients that buy the "everyday" stuff like to "dream".

Show them both if your clientele includes both types of customers. I think a casualty in these discusions is that we fail to correctly identify our base. If you truly have a steady stream of folks wanting 22K and closed corner frames, then this probably isn't for you.

But, if you struggle to get more folks in the door (which seems to be a more common dilemna), then these types of strategies might be helpful. A big mistake might be to dismiss it because it clashes with your preferences. Listen to your market

Kirstie- OEM typically signifies a product bought in larger qtys at a lower price. There was a discussion recently here that got a little off track. Look on page 30 of the Larson price list.

Some shops have a preference for which profile they carry; we prefer the "5" profile. Remember, we are attempting to create some Price Impression


SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Bob, I think you hit the nail on the head when you say people are not turned off by showing value priced merchandise next to the pricier stuff. In fact, snob appeal may just kick in and if properly described and displayed, the value priced merchandise may just kick some customers into a higher priced frame package since they don't want to be labeled as "going on the cheap". Those that do want to go there are usually proud of their thriftiness and would not be a customer anyway if you don't offer them low priced options.

If I go to the grocery and want a steak and have the money to spend on a great piece of meat, I'm not going to switch and buy the hamburger because it's in the display case. However the reverse may be true ...if I went in for hamburger and saw the steak, I might just get a hankerin' for the good stuff!

Also, it's rare that I would want a steak every time I grill ...I'd know my neighborhood meat market has the hamburger (ground chuck, please :D) too.

Jay H

PFG, Picture Framing God
On value priced mouldings, I use the test Bob gave. That is "never make any offer that would bother you if that is the only thing you ever sold."

I took from that, if you can't make good money off a product, don't offer it. If you have to hide a sample under the counter, then I have to assume you don't make enough money off it. I say pull the sample out from under the counter and toss it in the trash.

I have a box of the 1" black in the back. It wouldn't bother me one bit if that was the only moulding I sold the rest of the month. With all seriousness I call it "the Cheapest frame inOwensboro". Its the abolute truth and rarely does anybody say "OHHH GREAT". When they do, I'm still happy with the sale (considering the first 30' pays for the entire 400' box).


PFG, Picture Framing God
Found it on the bottom of the page. Have to see how our discount stacks up against this. 5 is so skinny you really can't get mats in. Got it, then the upgrades must be UV, and acrylic. Price impression. Same reason I am looking at a small line of paper rather than a line of Artique, which are already mixed in with my Artcare samples and provides a nice margin.

More research....oh....much less then my discount. If I bought #11 we could add mats, but do we want to add mats as an upgrade?

Oh my, a new world, but a good idea, I think.

Thank you again for this very helpful discussion.

Jerry Ervin

PFG, Picture Framing God
I am with Bob on the OEM5 profile. I limit my offering to 4 flat black, shiny black, gold, and silver. I sell 10 times more of the OEM5-MB than any of the others combined.

I also like the Arqadia line from LJ for value priced wood.


PFG, Picture Framing God
I sell the heck out of the OEM's too, but, I tend to keep the OEM 15 on hand so I can upgrade to mats which I usually do, especially if I am selling down from a higher price.


PFG, Picture Framing God
oem metal

Are you guys selling the oem metal by the foot as part of a value line or only using it for the packages?

We had the How low Would You Go discussion a while ago on per foot prices, and the like. The price at which it is not longer viable to offer moulding no matter what the wholesale price, the point at which one can no longer make money given the other framing costs. I'll have to look that one up as I don't remember much of it, but it is certainly associated with package pricing and the like.

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Guys-We easily can do a dbl mat in the OEM 5. The 15 is about 25% more expensive, If I remember correctly

What might be an interesting "mini poll" might be If you offer a ValueLine, what percent of a) your wall space and b) of your sales?

We have about 1500 samples and about 40 profiles in the pkgs. They produce a little over 14% of framing sales. Of that amount, which for us is significant, I really can't say how much was "traded down", but it scares the devil out of me to think how much might have been "Let me ask my husband" if we didn't have it

It also yields the highest margins

Jerry-We continue to see declining metal sales, but seem to have cured that with a $20 upgrade on the 1 1/4'" Black wood (usaully at comparable cost)

It isn't for everyone, but I will venture to suggest many more will benefit from it than it will hurt if they do

Kirstie-I have heard people suggest that you can not possibly make money for a frame less than $69. I might suggest that you can not possibly make money on a No Sale. If you are ginning along at 100% capacity, perhaps.

But if you are at 100% capacity, then you do not have time to spend here, either. I really do not know if there is a sale that loses us money because of the amount if it is priced properly, bought properly and produced properly

I'm sure all of us havestories about the $300 project that we lost money on (LOL)

Jay H

PFG, Picture Framing God
I have heard people suggest that you can not possibly make money for a frame less than $69. I might suggest that you can not possibly make money on a No Sale.
That all depends on how many sales you're missing a month. Its all about volume. Thats pretty funny!


PFG, Picture Framing God
I assume you are offering glass right on the poster on these packages, not acrylic. We have been teaching for so long that glass on the art is a no no.

Time to educate the staff on the economics of the lower end.


PFG, Picture Framing God
Jay, you've got it completely wrong about my value moulding. I can make plenty of money on it, and still price it very competitively. But it looks pretty much like some Roma blacks that aren't discounted at all. So why give up the margin right away by having a customer come in, say they want a black frame, and point at my value moulding? Keep in mind, I don't have price tags on any moulding in the shop. Customer doesn't know what it costs. He just knows it's black.


PFG, Picture Framing God
I can predict one messy scenario with package pricing. The customer who wants something entirely diffferent, but wants you to figure the price as a pkg price upgrade to an entirely different higher-end moulding, UV glass, rag mats, the works, but says, well, it is just under 18 x 24 and your sign says ....Isn't this just an upgrade? I think it can be solved but wonder if this has been a problem.

I assume you all have signs up for your pkg prices? Any photos? How much wall space? 40 samples, Bob, wow, that's a lot! I probably have 20 in the Value Line and would add maybe 3 metal colors in one profile. Keep it simple because I'd have to stock it all. I'd probably only do the packages on DIY, keeping my custom framers out of it.

What a great Grumble day. Not getting too much else done, except the newsletter, but am am resting hte knees!
Sponsor Wanted