How to Frame Papercut Art
Almost everyone who sees our papercut map art, has one or both of the following questions. “How do I frame them?” and “Will a white papercut show up on a white wall?” Both questions really go hand in hand, because how you frame your design is going to be what determines if you can see the design or not!
One of the things I love about papercut art is the shadows it creates when framed in the right way. The best way to think about it is with positive and negative space. The positive is the paper, and the negative is the cut outs, or gaps. Basically what you’re trying to create is a pretty decent shadow in the negative space, created by the positive space. Have I lost you?! Let me show you what I mean!
If you hold your unframed papercut flat up against a white wall, chances are you’re not going to make out the design even from just a meter or so away. That’s because there’s no depth to it, and nothing to create a shadow.
Now move that same papercut a little bit away from the wall, and you’ll see the shadow it creates starts to make the design really stand out.
Finally, let’s put that same papercut into a floating frame. There are lots of different names for them, but the ones I mean are the sort with two pieces of glass and no back. See the difference? Even on a pure white wall, the right frame can really make your papercut stand out. If you have a slightly darker wall finish, even just an off white, the effect is even more obvious.
The other big thing to consider is where you’re going to hang your artwork. If you really want the design to pop, then the best place is on the same wall as your windows so there’s no daylight illuminating it. But honestly, any wall without direct sunlight on will work. Even if you have dark coloured walls, it’s always best to avoid putting artwork in direct sunlight anyway. All of our products are treated with a UV protector spray, which definitely helps to protect them from fading or discolouration, but as with any artwork, it can’t stop it completely so it’s definitely best to avoid the risk all together.
I sometimes get asked about adding a sheet of coloured paper behind the papercut and just using a standard photo frame. And while that’s totally possible, it really defeats the point of having a papercut as it just ends up looking like printed art instead! If you want to go down this route, you could get a deep shadow box frame, and fix your coloured background paper to the inside of the back of the frame. You then need to find a way to fix the papercut to the glass at the front, which is very difficult to do without either damaging the cut or the design moving around. Instead, you can use a floating frame, and use spray mount to fix the papercut to the backing paper, but bear in mind this means you wont be able to change it in the future.
Instead, I always recommend choosing a frame which has two sheets of glass which will sandwich the papercut between them. Because the glass is fixed in tightly, it holds the papercut in place without having to glue or attach it in any way, which is great if you ever decide in the future you want to reframe it, and also preserves your artwork. These are the sort we use for our framed papercut designs. All of our papercuts have the option to have either a white or black frame, with two sheets of glass, or instead you can order them unframed so that you can buy your own. If you’d prefer to buy your own, here are a few of my favourites:
A- Vintage Style Frame B- Umbra Phantom Adhesive Frame C- One Wall Black Floating Frame D- West Elm Walnut Floating Frame E- Umbra Corda Frame F- Crate and Barrel Gunmetal Floating Acrylic Frame G- Anthropologie Townsend Frame
A few tips for framing:
- Always clean the inside of both pieces of glass first. Don’t worry about the outside until after, as there’s a good chance you’ll get finger prints on there during the framing process.
- Use a lint free cloth to wipe the glass thoroughly, and several times if necessary. Take your time to do this step, as even the smallest piece of dust can show up once you hang the frame.
- Position your papercut inside the frame, making sure any gaps around the outside are equal. Measure them if you’re not certain, it’s worth the extra effort to get it looking perfect.
- If you need to trim your papercut for any reason, then the chances are your frame is too small. Of course it’s up to you what you do with the papercut once you buy it, but we would highly recommend you don’t try to trim it to fit a smaller frame, as this will weaken the strength of the paper, and could lead to damage. Our papercuts are all designed with standard frame sizes in mind, if you’re not sure please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to help.
- When closing the frame, don’t move the glass with the papercut on, move the other piece to stop the papercut sliding out of position.
- Clean again with a lint free cloth as the last step.
I hope that helps to answer some of your framing questions, and inspires you to give it a go yourself! And I'd love to see photos of the frames you choose for your Ta Muchly papercut designs too! If you have any more questions please feel free to get in touch at email@example.com or ask them in the comments section below.
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Hi Ada, I suppose technically you could, but you’d need to find a way to secure the glass at the back of the frame. The floating frames that I usually use have an extra lip for the glass to sit in, and then an extra removable wooden frame which lines up with the lip so that you cant see it from the front.
can you make any frame a two glass frame by replacing the back with glass?