Having your quilled art custom framed can send a quality piece over the top, but it can also be quite expensive, especially if you are framing a piece for a gift or to sell.
Regular off the shelf frames are a much less expensive option, but since they are made to hold a thin photo, most cannot accommodate the thickness of the quilling paper. As a result, many crafters resort to framing their pieces without the glass. This way the depth of the frame is no longer an issue, but the quilling loses the protection from dust and curious fingers that the glass provided.
There are some excellent tutorials available for those who wish to modify a frame so that it can be used with quilling, but for those of us less handy, there are off the shelf frames available that work great with quilling; you just need to know what to look for.
Commercial shadowbox frames are now readily available in most craft stores and come in a wide variety of sizes and finishes to compliment your artwork. Some of these frames can be quite deep, however, and you will want to keep your finished piece in mind when making your selection. If your quilling design is mostly flat without a lot of layers or pieces glued on an angle (such as flower petals), your quilling may sit too far back from the glass and appear to get lost in the frame.
Fixed Glass Frames
I have found several styles of frames where the manufacturer has affixed the glass to the front of the frame providing a clearance anywhere from 1/4-in to 3/8-in for your quilling, which is enough for your single layer quilling pieces. An added benefit is that the frame itself is more decorative, unlike the standard rounded wood molding used in making most shadowbox frames.
Frames with Hidden Depth
If the frame you like isn’t a shadowbox or fixed glass frame, there are three other things you can look for to see if it will accommodate your quilling.
1. If the frame comes with multiple mats that have been spaced a part, there may be enough room for your quilling. When evaluating the frame to determine if it would be right for your particular piece of quill art, keep in mind that the mats can be altered or completely removed if needed.
2. Some frames (especially larger ones meant to hang on the wall) come with a more elaborate mat that has a raised decorative edge that outlines the inside of the mat. The frame has been designed to accommodate the depth of this edge. If the depth of your quilling is less than the depth of this raised edge, your quilling will fit.
3. I’ve saved the best tip for last since it was my biggest revelation. Check the back of the frame. If it has a slide latch at the bottom that fits into the frame, put it down and walk away – there is only enough room for a photo.
If, however, the frame has a back door, open it up and take a peek. The depth of the filler that the manufacturer has packed into the back of the frame (usually cardboard, but may be foam) is the depth inside the frame available for your quilling. Sometimes it is very little and the frame can’t be used, but quite often there is enough space for a flat quilled piece, and every now and then, you’ll find a ton of space. This is something that you just can’t tell by looking at the frame – you have to open it up and see.
With these tips in mind, it takes me just a few minutes to look through a store’s frame selection and see if they have anything I can use.