•Insist on expertise. Before you leave your art with a framer, determine exactly how the piece will be hinged, or secured to the framing materials. Irreparable damage to valuable art can result from faulty workmanship.

•Use restraint. Don't let your framer convince you that your art needs multiple colorful mats, double frames or fancy cuts to showcase your artwork. You chose the piece because you valued the art. Let it stand on its own. A great frame should support the artwork, not outshine it.

Photography

•Don't touch the glass! Glass resting on a photograph, especially a glossy finish, will quickly and irreparably damage your photograph. Make sure the glazing will be positioned away from your photo.

•Set your crop lines. You, not your framer should decide how much of the photograph is cropped or covered. If you want to see some of the border around the image, say so. Want to crop in on the image? Let the framer know how much should be matted over or cropped.

Posters and decorative art

•Know the value of your piece. Some posters are valuable; others are not. Don't assume your framer will know the difference. If you have a poster with some value, your framer should not "dry-mount" — permanently attaching the art to a backing board — unless absolutely necessary. Pieces with sentimental but not financial value can be dry-mounted for proper display.

•Don't be bullied. It's OK not to spend a small fortune on framing. Don't allow your framer to bully or guilt you into spending more than you intended to frame an inexpensive poster or decorative piece that could easily be replaced.

Memorabilia

•Listen to the experts. Be open to suggestions from your framer on how best to display your collection. You might have a large collection of items that you would like to see displayed together, but be open to the idea that they might not all look great together in one frame. Work with your framer to design a layout that best showcases your items.

•Go for high-quality glazing. The glass you use determines how long your item will last. If you don't opt for a glazing that has UV protection, your item will fade over time.

Style

Mix it up. While more ornate frames are typically used for something like an Italian Renaissance painting and contemporary pieces are often complemented by minimal frames, it's not uncommon to see someone juxtapose a traditional frame with a more modern piece of art, or vice versa.

Careful with color. Colored mats can distract from a piece, taking attention away from the art.

Wow won't always work. The visual effect of a frame should never overpower the piece of art.

Go with your gut. You know what you like. Don't be persuaded to follow a current trend if you're the least bit unsure. Remember: Classic is always in style.



Tips on finding a framer



Thomas Stone, owner of JLP Fine Art & Custom Framing Galleries, offers these tips on finding a good frame shop:

Ask about insurance Make sure your framer carries adequate insurance to protect your work. A reputable framer will have his or her own insurance policy to cover all work stored in the shop. Some framers do not carry insurance, leaving valuable pieces unprotected while in the framer's custody.

Look for experience Make sure your framer has experience with the type of work you are bringing to be framed. Every piece of art needs to be evaluated individually to determine the best presentation. If your framer is offering a "one size fits all" experience, you should consider looking elsewhere.

Shop around Just because a retailer is advertising deep discounts, that doesn't mean the final cost will be all that different from shop to shop. Don't be afraid to get a few estimates and pick the framer you feel most comfortable with.

JLP Fine Art & Custom Framing Galleries has locations at 2360 W. Joppa Road in Green Spring Station, 410-337-8490; and at 2406 N. Charles St. in Charles Village, 410-243-7368. To reach the shop online, go to framingbaltimore.com.

dhockman@chesapeakehome.com