When it comes to matting/framing your artwork, you have a few options. When possible, opt for acid-free materials and UV coated glass to help protect original artwork.
› Custom framing — This tends to be the best option for the highest-quality, longest-lasting result. Custom shops use high-quality, often archival materials and can seal the back of the artwork to protect artwork from environmental elements (dust, moisture, etc). Past clients have used local vendors like Capitol Hill Frame & Photo, a semi-local vendor like Framebridge, or other custom framing shops.
› You can try matting/framing it yourself! — See below for some tips on selecting a mat and frame.
Selecting a mat
You want to select a mat that is cut for the size of artwork we've discussed as we plan for your artwork. The opening in the mat will likely be cut a tiny bit smaller (perhaps 0.5"-1") than the artwork dimensions, to allow for overlap with the paper.
I recommend an acid-free or archival-quality mat to prevent yellowing over time where the mat touches the art.
As we are planning your commission, ask me about the color of paper I will use if you plan to buy a mat before you see the finished artwork. Not all whites are the same, and you will want to select a mat that coordinates with the paper I use for your piece (for example, for many charcoal pieces and some watercolor pieces, the paper I use is not a true bright white — it leans a little bit off-white).
When I am matting a piece of artwork, I like to use nondestructive/reversible means, such that someone could change the matting at any time without damage to the artwork. I often use these acid-free archival-quality mounting strips (from Amazon), because they adhere to the mat and not the artwork itself, so that you don't get adhesive on the artwork and can reposition it without damage to the artwork. You can cut them to the size you need.
Selecting a frame
I recommend UV coated glass to help protect original artwork. For a charcoal piece, it's important that the frame uses real glass (faux glass can generate static electricity which can attract charcoal particles off the page, believe it or not). NOTE: I believe Framebridge does not use real glass, so it is likely not the best bet for charcoal framing.
Buying Mat/Frame Separately or As a Set
You can purchase a mat and frame separately — this is a good option for less traditional artwork sizes for which you may not find many mat/frame combination options.
Wholesale Arts Frames offers individual mats, including double-cut mats, which can look really sharp on a piece of artwork. They come in many sizes, have an extra-thick beveled option, and claim to be acid-free and lignen-free.
Golden State Art also offers individual pre-cut acid-free and archival-quality mats.
What Past Clients Have Ordered
Below are some product lines/vendors clients have ordered from recently with good success, which I am providing as a courtesy to help you with your search.
Just be sure to check out the website's actual descriptions and reviews for yourself, to make sure the item will meet your needs and expectations.
5x7 art (8"x10" frame)
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008QBWBK2/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=erinthompsonstudio-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B008QBWBK2&linkId=4116e5e35ca7a76ad4dac4d7e744624c — product description says it's a wood frame with white matte finish, a Spanish White mat, Anti aging Liner with micro chamber & Archival matting, and Art care UV glazing, to prevent fading and discoloring.
6x6 art (Square 9.13"x9.13" frame)
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07HLJGDCG/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B07HLJGDCG&linkCode=as2&tag=erinthompsonstudio-20&linkId=c27b087c84e520c0d048ebc1509208c3 — says it comes with acid-free mat, has a few color options, has plexi-glass (not recommended for charcoal pieces).
8x8 art (Square 12"x12" mat outer dimensions) — MAT-ONLY (NOT a frame)
https://goldenstateart.com/photo-mats/type/12x12-pre-cut-mat-with-whitecore-fits-8x8-picture — this is a MAT-ONLY; says it's acid-free, has white and black options
8x8 art (Square 13"x13" frame with mat)
https://www.amazon.com/Golden-State-Art-Picture-Pictures/dp/B0747W3SD9/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=12x12%2Bpicture%2Bframe&qid=1607546794&sr=8-5&th=1 — from a reputable company; the listing Q&A says the included mat is acid-free; offers various color/finish options
8x10 art (11"x14" frame)
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008QBWBNO/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=erinthompsonstudio-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B008QBWBNO&linkId=6c1d43de236b5d038fc7865d5f675d3c — product description says it's a wood frame with white matte finish, a Spanish White mat, Anti aging Liner with micro chamber & Archival matting, and Art care UV glazing, to prevent fading and discoloring.
4x6, 5x5, 5x7, 8x10 art
https://www.potterybarn.com/products/wood-gallery-single-opening-frames/?pkey=cpicture-frames&isx=0.0.319 — PB website says these come with an archival-quality mat and use real glass, and there are different size and finish options (be sure to note which finishes come with a mat that will coordinate with the paper I'm using for your piece). And they are relatively affordable!
5x7, 8x10, 11x14 art
https://www.potterybarn.com/m/products/gallery-in-a-box-stepped-frames/?pkey=cgallery-wall-frames&isx=0.0 — website says this frame uses real glass for most sizes and has ivory-colored mat (looks nice with off-white charcoal paper).