Aluminum prints are available in so-called standard sizes as well as custom sizes. The reflective quality of aluminum sheets adds luminous color, depth, and high resolution detail to your favorite photos. Prints are water, scratch, and UV resistant, ensuring your prints stay gorgeous for a long, long time. A soft cloth moistened with water or a mild window cleaner will help you deal with dust or fingerprints. I like to use the 3/4″ wall mount pictured in the detail images below. It raises the print off the wall, creating shadows around the print, helping add a three-dimensional look.
Although a UV-resistant coating is applied by the manufacturer, I would still recommend not displaying your print in direct sunlight.
In addition to the color benefits, I like aluminum prints because they come ready to hang. I don’t have to do the finishing work in the methods described below. They are a real time saver!
Artist-Crafted Maple Box Frame with Floating Print
Head-on, the maple frame (Peacock) is almost invisible, especially as hung on a light tan wall as shown. The frame begins with 1″ x 2″ maple stock. I use a dado blade in a table saw to cut the stock according the the illustrated profile below. A router rounds the front (top) of the stock. Pieces are miter cut according to the size of the image and glued. After twenty-fours hours, a custom-made jig is used on the table saw to make an angled cut in each corner for the walnut splines. Splines are used to strengthen miter joints, but I enjoy the decorative element using a contrasting wood color. I paint the inner groove at the top of the frame using flat black paint (see the black line in the profile below). The groove separates the print from the exterior of the frame, creating the illusion that the print is floating inside the frame.
When assembled, I sand the frame using four different grades of sandpaper, apply denatured alcohol to remove all the dust, and then treat the exterior to Watco natural-color Danish Oil. It is a simple finish, but it brightens and highlights the natural wood and its grain.
I flush mount the prints on 3/16″ Gator Board. Gator Board is similar to foam core display board. They both have a dense inner foam sandwiched between an outer material, and both are light weight. Foam core, however, uses a light paper cardboard on the exterior. It is easier to cut, but foam core easily warps. Gator Board uses a wood-fiber veneer on each side of the foam, making it stronger, more difficult to cut, more difficult to find, and of course, more expensive. I have never seen Gator Board warp. I buy only self-adhesive, black Gator Board. The adhesive is quite strong, and I have never seen the print bubble off the board. Formerly, I used an adhesive spray with foam core, and I was never happy with the results (warping and sections of print release).
The mounted print is glued (as pictured below) onto the frame about 1/4″ inside the frame’s exterior. On the back of the frame, I add a section of mat board, just because I like the finished look. I finish with two small eye screws and vinyl-coated hanging wire.
Traditional Metal Frames
Traditional frames continue to be an elegant way to display fine art prints. For convenience and a simple, consistent look, I use a small profile black metal frame. They are easy to order, have cut to custom sizes, and easy to assemble. The only tricky part is precise measuring of the image size the final mat size, and the window size within the mat. The planning and sizing are the important first steps.
Frequently, I will make the print size larger than the mat window, with the image size smaller than the print and smaller than the mat window. This is easily accomplished in Photoshop, and the process leaves a white border on the print around the smaller image. As a result, there is a white border between the image and the mat window. In this border, I like to add a several pixel wide key line using a color sampled from the image. In the detail picture below, you can see a red-ish line about 1/2 inch outside the image but just inside the bevel cut on the mat. Sometime a will create a very wide key line that half-way lays inside the mat and cannot be seen with half of the line visible where the mat meets the print. I think adding a line give the finish an elegant and custom look, which can simulate to some degree a second contrasting mat.
I usually choose a white-ish mat so as not to detract from the image. Black frame, white mat . . . simple but gallery ready!
The last piece is glazing material. Regular, non-glare, and/or UV resistant glass is typically used in a traditional frame, but I order acrylic “glass” (one trade name is Plexiglass), pre-cut from the framing vendor. It is easily shipped and much lighter than glass. Acrylic is easily scratched, however, so don’t do it!
Print Mounted on Gator Board
See the description of Gator Board above (Hand-made Maple Frames). Once mounted, I build, paint, and apply a wooden frame on the back in order to float the print off the wall. This is a very simple and economical finish for a print. To go even simpler, the wood wall mount could be omitted and replaced with a plastic hanger attached in back of and on top of the mounted print.