How to frame lots of large photos cheaply?
August 30, 2007 10:37 PM   Subscribe

Framing over a dozen 11x14 photos on the cheap?

I have 14 photos to frame -- all printed at 11x14 -- and would like them to be framed with precut matting to that size (so the actual frames would be larger). The exact size, material, and appearance of the frames don't matter to me too much, so long as the design is simple and not garish to the point of detracting from the photos. The prices at some places I've looked at all tend to multiply alarmingly fast for this many frames, so I'm just looking for something as cheap as possible. Plastic is just fine!

Either online or brick-and-mortar works fine for me. I'm in the SF Bay Area if anyone has local suggestions.

(If the matting proves to be the hobgoblin driving up the price exorbitantly, I may considering doing without but to me photos often look tacky or just not "right" when framed without some matting. The photos in question are a mix of color and b&w.)
posted by DaShiv to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I have had great luck finding inexpensive frames at Ikea.

And what about "faking" the matting by mounting the photo in the centre of a larger piece of coloured paper?
posted by sanitycheck at 11:08 PM on August 30, 2007

Cheap Pete's at 7th & Geary has a great selection of inexpensive frames, but 14 frames of any sort will set you back a chunk of change. It's worth taking a look, though.
posted by judith at 11:32 PM on August 30, 2007

If you're not opposed to Walmart, most of their plain black and plain "wood grain" frames (of varying sizes) are only $1.00 each... I'm not sure how much matting materials cost there, but you mentioned you could maybe do without matting if need be.
posted by amyms at 11:37 PM on August 30, 2007

We use old windows from your local home recycler.
posted by iamabot at 11:54 PM on August 30, 2007

Large hobby superstores (Hobby Lobby, Garden Ridge, Ben Franklin...considering the level of potpourri in those places, maybe it's a Midwest thing) usually have a wide selection of cheap frames to go along with their expensive custom stuff. They also have sales of up to 50% off, all the freakin' time, on both frames and matboard. If you forsee having to repeat this exercise in the future, it may be worth your while to pick up a mat cutter for yourself. Otherwise, many one-off (non-chain) photography stores will stock precut mats.
posted by notsnot at 4:39 AM on August 31, 2007

Yeah Walmart, especially the super kind that are the size of a city, has a large selection of cheap frames. They aren't garish, just super plain and cheaper than Ikea. I'm not sure the cheap ones all have matting, though.
posted by bluefly at 6:16 AM on August 31, 2007

Aaron Brothers often has "buy one, get one for a penny" sales. Not every frame in the store qualifies, but there are lots to choose from. If you can find out when they're having their next sale (maybe an employee will tell you if you call or drop by), I think this could be a really good option for you.
posted by kitty teeth at 6:42 AM on August 31, 2007

I second Ikea. Found some dirt cheap frames for $10. I can't remember if I've seen 11x14's though.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 9:19 AM on August 31, 2007

Before you hike to Ikea, consider that all of their frames are in wacky metric sizes and will definitely be an awkward fit on your perfect 11X14s. Cheap Pete's is great - they have relatively cheap frames and stacks of pre-cut mats. I'm also happy to lend you my mat cutter (you going to the meet up tonight?) that can cut costs dramatically - but 14 mats would take a non-trivial amount of time to cut. username at gmail if interested.
posted by Wolfie at 11:52 AM on August 31, 2007

Get the mats done at a self-framing place; it's easy to do and pretty cheap (even if you use archival materials, which you should). Then, there is hardware that allows you to secure a sheet of glass with little edge clips right to the matt (you need a good heavy backing board), including a way to stretch hanging wire across the back. We used to do this when I worked in a gallery years ago because of the cost. (Not the same thing as mounting unframed glass-covered works directly to the wall with L-screws, althought this might be another option that you often see in galleries. However, look is not as "finished"). I really like the way this looks with photos.

To save you time, I tried googling "framing with no frame" "Frame glass only" "frame edge clips" but couldn't find a picture of this. Possibly the self-framing place will have some idea what 'm talking about. Hope it helps/makes sense.
posted by nax at 2:26 PM on August 31, 2007

Since you're in the bay area, you should definitely go to SCRAP...they've got matting out the wazoo and everything there is SO CHEAP. They've got old frames, too...but they're kind of ratty and probably not what you're aiming for. Generally speaking, though, SCRAP is amazing.

I'd second Wal-mart for cheap frames, but places like Michael's have good deals sometimes (frequent 40% off sales).

I've also made a lot of my own frames by going to Home Depot and buying molding/trim by the foot. I use a miter box to saw the angles, then a staple gun and glue to assemble it. I framed a 2'x4' vintage painting for about $15 this way.
posted by bienbiensuper at 3:34 PM on August 31, 2007

Use plexiglass, huge sizes especially.
posted by dblock at 3:23 PM on December 22, 2007

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