Everyone knows the immense difference made to a picture by the choice of a suitable frame, and while a large oil-painting or family portrait naturally calls for an important setting, nothing is more charming for small water-colours, and for pencil, chalk, and pastel drawings than the "passe-par-tout frame long since beloved of artists. Indeed, it was in studio-land that the writer first made acquaintance with a method of framing one's smaller pictorial treasures which is as inexpensive as it is charming.
Nothing looks more delightful in one of the white or plainly tinted walled rooms now so popular than a collection of passe-partout framed sketches and photographs, the more varied in shape and size the better. Pictures measuring more than nine or ten inches, however, should not be framed in this way, for the weight of glass and cardboard required to frame them is too great for the paper binding, and the results are unsatisfactory. A row of half a dozen coloured illustrations, such as those of Walter Crane or Arthur Rackham, from a child's picture-book, framed in passe-partout make the most delightful decoration imaginable for a nursery mantelpiece, hung two or three inches above the mantelshelf at about the same distance apart.
A Way of Making Pin-money
As a means of making pin-money, passepartout framing is by no means to be despised, for it is far and away the cheapest method of framing photographs, and from 9d. to 2S., according to size, may be charged for framing pictures for which the initial cost to the amateur framer for materials has been from 2d. to 6d. each, while half-a-dozen pictures can be easily framed in the course of an hour.
The necessary outfit with which to start framing operations can be bought for a few shillings. It should include four sixpenny rolls of passe-partout binding (in green, brown, black, and white respectively), a hank of narrow black tape - or, better still, one of each colour to match the bindings - and a couple of dozen tiny brass rings will be needed; or, in place of the tape and rings, a small box containing twenty-five patent passe-partout hangers, made on the principle of a brass paper-clip, may be bought for 6d. Another variety, consisting of a small ring attached to a gummed disc, and admirably suited for hanging small pictures, may be had at the same price.
Hanger, with gummed surface to be affixed to back of frame
Patent clip ring
Clip ring in use. Passed through mount
Cutting the Glass
A 6d. glass-cutter, a 6d. box of small three-corner-shaped gummed corners, with which to attach a picture or photographic print to a sheet of cardboard without the necessity for sticking it down all over to the mount. One or two spring clips, such as are used for crystoleum painting or are employed for clipping letters, are of great assistance in holding the cardboard and glass together whilst putting round the binding.
Sheets of the best brown paper, of stout white paper, of dark green paper, and one of black morocco paper costing about 1 1/2 d. a sheet, for pasting over the backs of the pictures, and a 6d. pot of a photo mountant and a paste-brush will also be required. A passe-partout frame consists of a sheet of cardboard and a sheet of glass, of exactly the same size, sandwiching a picture between them, and bound round with a strip of specially prepared gummed Morocco paper binding in whichever colour harmonises best with the subject framed.
The best plan is to collect together the sketches and photographs which it is desired to frame, and to take them to the nearest frame-maker, who will cut a glass to fit the mounted ones, and both glass and cardboard for the unmounted ones, from a 1d. to 3d. or 4d. each picture, according to size. If sunk mounts with bevelled edges are needed, he will make them for a small extra charge, and if any of the pictures need trimming down to a different shape or smaller size, get him to do it with his patent mount-cutting machine at the same time. For this he will probably make no extra charge.
If, however, the amateur framer is living far away from picture-framing shops, in the country or abroad, the glass can be bought in a big sheet, and cut as required with the help of a glass-cutter, and the cardboard can be cut into shape with a ruler and a well-sharpened penknife. An old cardboard dress box provides material for a number of mounts.
The choice of colour for both mount and binding is the first point to be decided. These should match exactly, if possible, except in the case of a black binding, which must be used either to frame up a drawing quite close, or in conjunction with a white mount.
Pasting down a browrn-paper backpiece, to make the frame neat at the back
Delicate water-colours should be mounted on white mounts, leaving a margin of two inches at least all round, and bound in white passe-partout, the effect will be found charming. Gold passe-partout binding may also be obtained, and sometimes looks very pretty for small water-colours destined to adorn a drawing-room where all the other frames are gilt.
If they are too big to be further mounted, or if, for any other reason, it is preferred to frame them up close, a soft dark green or brown binding should be chosen.
Pastels, chalk, and pencil drawings should be treated in the same way, though pencil sketches often look best framed up quite close, and black is, as a rule, the best choice for those and for pastels and coloured chalks.
Framing Photographs and Carbon Prfnts
Many photographs are printed in a soft shade of dull brown, and mounted on similarly coloured sheets of thick, rough-surfaced paper. When framing these, have a glass and mount cut exactly the same size as the photograph mount, sandwich it between them, and bind it, if possible, with exactly the same shade of brown.
The popular carbon prints of pictures by Watts, Leighton, and the old masters, and of famous groups of statuary, if of suitable size, look better framed in passe-partout than when treated in any other way. They should be placed between a glass and cardboard of exactly the same size as the print, and framed with brown or black binding. Here, again, brown gives the more harmonious effect, detracting nothing from the slight contrasts of the most delicate print.
If the picture is to hang up against the wall, rings must be provided at the back through which to pass the string. There are two ways of fixing them securely. The simplest plan is to pass a couple of patent ring-clips through the cardboard mount at a convenient distance apart. The plan generally employed by professional framers, however, is to make two small slits a convenient distance apart in the cardboard mount, between which a short length of narrow tape is pasted, each of the ends being passed through a slit and round a small ring, and then drawn back through the slit again, so that the two rings are left hanging from loops of tape on the outside. The ends of tape are then also firmly glued or pasted down on the inside, leaving the back of the frame perfectly neat. In order to affix either arrangement of hangers, there must be a separate cardboard mount to the picture which is being framed. If it consists only of a drawing or photograph, already mounted, and a sheet of glass, the use of gummed hangers, which are merely moistened and affixed to the back of the cardboard mount, must be resorted to, but they will only support the weight of quite a small picture.
To frame a picture, put everything which will be wanted in readiness, including a sheet of clean white kitchen paper and a couple of heavy books - to act as a press - and then proceed as follows. Unfasten the end of the roll of passe-partout binding, and, unwinding half to three-quarters of a yard, double the two edges towards each other, and crease the folded edge firmly with the nail, so that the strip forms a double binding with the gummed surface inside. Then, having arranged glass, picture, and mount - to which the hangers will already have been affixed - together in their proper order, fasten on a clip to the lower left-hand side to keep all in place, and proceed to bind the picture, starting from the right-hand bottom corner.
Putting on the binding
Measure the binding against the side of the picture to be framed, and moisten the part of it which is to be attached to the glass side for a distance of an inch or two beyond the first corner to be turned. Press this length in place evenly against the surface of the glass, about one-third of an inch from the edge, so that it makes a straight bordering. Fold it with great care into a neat mitre at the corner, and then run the front part of the binding along the top, down the left-hand side, and - after having removed the clip to the right-hand top corner - across the bottom. A pair of fine scissors will be needed to cut the end of the binding slanting, to make the fourth mitred corner where it finishes off, instead of folding it over as in making the three previous corners. Now turn the picture on its face, and, moistening the back half of the binding a short distance at a time, fold it over so that the edge of the picture when finished may have a clean-cut outline to it.
The finished frame
Next cut a sheet of paper to match the binding a quarter of an inch smaller than the back of the picture, mark the exact position of the rings, and cut slits through which to pass them. Then paste it smoothly and thoroughly on the side which is to go next the mount until it is quite pliable, and gently set it in position. Next pass the rings through the slits, and press it firmly into place with a pad made of a folded cloth. It will thus half overlap at the back of the mount, and strengthen the whole frame.
Now place the picture between sheets of white paper, with the heavy books on top of it, and leave it to dry for a few hours. Then, after a string has been passed through the rings at the back, the picture will be ready to be hung.
The following is a good firm for supplying materials, etc., mentioned in this section: Messrs. Cooper, Dennison Walkden, Ltd.