5 tips on choosing the perfect framer including the Birmingham frame shop you need to check out

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Karen Clanton and Carla Hamilton of Four Corners Gallery exploring frame options for a gallery painting by a regional artist. Photo by Lauren Bedford for Bham Now

Maybe you picked up a unique print from an estate sale around Birmingham or your family is passing down a rare painting you’ve loved forever and can’t wait to hang on your wall—whatever the case, there’s a lot to think about before picking just any framing service. Here are 5 things to keep in mind when choosing your framer, plus learn more about Four Corners Gallery located in Inverness off 280.

1. Design Skills

One of the more obvious things to look at in a framer is their eye for design not just for the frame, but for the big picture—no pun intended. Pay attention to the questions they ask you when you bring in a piece to be framed. Some questions include:

Designer, Amie Brasher, works with a customer to identify framing that both compliments the art as well as the room it will be hanging in. Artwork by Birmingham’s own Jane Marshall. Photo by Leah Karol
  • Do you know where you plan on hanging this?
  • What other works hang nearby?
  • Do you have any preconceived ideas on colors? Size?

2. Knowledge, Training and Experience

Of course, framing is more than just being able to envision what a piece would look like in your space. There’s a lot of knowledge, training and experience that all come with a great framer. Did you know there are Certified Picture Framers (CPF)—because it might be my dream job?!

Meet Karen Clanton, a Certified Picture Framer at Four Corners Gallery in Inverness with more than 35 years of experience in the industry! Photo via Leah Karol

They go through continuous training and education—retesting every few years to maintain their certification. The CPF sets shop practices and schools the team. Along with the senior framer, they ensure proper framing—especially mounting methods. Here are some questions to ask when selecting a framing service:

  • Does the frame shop have a Certified Picture Framer?
  • How many years of experience do the employees have?
  • Do the designers have degrees in an art or design field?

3. Care and Handling

The process doesn’t end after you’ve handed over your art. Another important thing to think about is the care and handling of your work. Some things to look for:

  • Does the designer handle your work gently and by the paper’s edges?
  • If your art is rolled up does the salesperson unroll it slowly so as not to kink the paper and use weights to hold it down?

4. Ease and Accessibility

You might think going with an online framing service would be easier, but there are a few key downsides you’ll want to think about before deciding on a service. Although online framing services offer the ease of ordering 24/7 and delivery, the design is left up to you. There won’t be a designer by your side, or someone to come into your home, see what’s already hanging, and give you an educated opinion on the placement and frame style.

Four Corners offers free pick up and delivery on all work, not just big stuff like this. Installation services are also available. Photo by Carla Hamilton

5. Preservation

One of the most important things to think about when it comes to framing is preservation. But, you’ll have to think pretty far into the future. And we’re not talking 5-year-plan-future, we’re talking about children-and-grandchildren-future. There are so many things to think about when it comes to preservation:

  • What type of glass are you using?
  • Will your picture need a mat?
  • How will the print or piece be mounted? Can it be removed?
Archival mats and UV filtering glass options being considered for framing local artist Robert Berguson’s mixed media piece. Photo by Carla Hamilton

“I want a framer who is concerned with archival preservation and who knows how to handle pictures—whether maps, oil paintings or works on paper—appropriately; I want a framer who has an understanding of what type of molding is artistically and historically correct and who has access to that molding; and I want a framer who has a good eye.”

Alan Zeigler, Longtime client of Four Corners Gallery


Personally, shopping local is a huge factor when it comes to choosing the businesses I support. Knowing that Four Corners is an independently run, woman-owned and operated, local business is just the cherry on top. So, next time you pick up a new print or receive an old photo from a family member, consider reaching out to a local frame shop like Four Corners.

“Like many, I see huge value in what Birmingham businesses have to offer—From expertise, to sourcing locally, to employing our population. Just think how much greater our community would be if we supported Birmingham’s small businesses even more than we currently do! It’s the neighborly thing to do.”

Carla Hamilton, CEO of Four Corners Gallery

Have you worked with Four Corners before? Show us your frames on social @BhamNow!

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Hannah Chambley
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