Using the Jackson’s Bespoke Frame Builder
by Jen Dixon
I’ve been a big fan of Jackson’s bespoke framing service for years. Until recently, I was ordering by phone directly from their Shoreditch branch. Having recently discovered the Bespoke Frame Builder on the Jackson’s Art Supplies site, I can order any time I like, and add any arty bits I need too. The downside, is that I don’t get to speak to the lovely Claire at Shoreditch anymore, but the frame builder is just so convenient.
I order the same frame every time: FC1044(Please note this moulding has since been discontinued! Try FC1167). That’s my “go-to” for giving my canvases a finished look. It’s lightweight, easy to assemble, and is just enough to polish, but not dominate my work. Depending on if my canvas is standard or deep, the same material can be cut to fit either. Jackson’s even adds that important wiggle room for the canvas automatically, so no worrying about whether the folded canvas corners or slightly less-than-square supports will fit into the frame. They could only make the process easier by jacking into my brain directly.
If you have a hard time buying without being in a brick and mortar frame shop, there is a handy preview function for you to upload your art and visualise it framed. Perfect if you’re not sure how wide, ornate, or what colour would look best around your work.
Here’s how I put together the FC1044 floating/tray frames: Unpack and match up the lengths. I paint a little PVA glue onto the mitred surfaces for a little extra strength. Using a rubber mallet, pound the little plastic joiners into place, repeat for all corners. That’s it!
Putting your canvas into this type of frame is simple. I slip the work in and pre-drill holes through the back of the frame into the canvas stretcher. Do take care that the screws you use are only enough to bite about halfway into the canvas stretcher wood after going through the frame. I tend to place my screws off-centre to avoid the cross braces of the canvas. Because there is no back board, these frames keep the canvas lightweight for hanging. I install flush mount hangers to keep everything as simple as possible.
I use these same frames for canvas boards as well, which I mount to 9mm MDF first using PVA. I get the boards cut at a local independent DIY (much cheaper than a chain mega-store), paint the edges and a little inside with black acrylic (you could use any colour, depending on the look you want and the frame you choose), use a silicone brush to generously apply the PVA (an old credit card works just as well), then it’s a matter of following the same steps as with a stretched canvas. You’ll want to use more screws as the board will be significantly heavier than work on a stretcher.
You’ll notice in the photos that I use bulldog clips to hold the canvas board to the MDF whilst gluing. This can leave a mark on the surface, so you may want to try another way. If your painting surface is perfectly dry, you could try flipping it over on a clean table and letting the weight of the MDF itself do the work, or pad the clips. Glassine paper can be an effective barrier between surfaces as well, so if you’re concerned, do test on something expendable first.
Framing your own work needn’t be intimidating, in fact, doing it this way is downright easy, and I love the process of going from raw materials to a framed work of art myself. Very satisfying.
About the author
American born, internationally-selling artist, Jen Dixon works mostly in mixed media abstract and figurative painting. She is also an illustrator, writer, and teaches life-drawing. Originally from Indiana, she became a British citizen, and lives in a small village on the North Cornwall coast of England.
The image at the top is ‘Harbour’ by Jen Dixon.
Oil and pencil on 24″ x 20″ canvas.