Picture Frames, Picture Framing and Picture Framers' Blog

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When black is the new black ...

When Customers asks us if black picture frames are still fashionable we often answer with this old aphorism “Black is the new black”.  In fact, picture frames with black mouldings is our single and most popular product. 

Which bring us to that old conundrum, the colour black isn’t a really colour!  Contradictory?  Well, check out any rainbow.  You ought to be able to sequentially see, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet but not black. 

This is because black is darkness, or the absence of light and  not on the visible colour spectrum.  Technically then, neither black nor white are colours, but shades.  Yet, and unlike white or other hues, black does occur naturally with  or without light. More to the point,  many regard it as ...   a colour in its own right. It can be mixed with combine other pigments to paint other colours on paper. 

Additionally, some colour experts deem white to be a colour because it includes all the colours of the visible light spectrum. And while colours must have light to be so,  a black pigment on white paper does not need light. That said, while not everyone may agree on what constitutes black, we all know what it looks like, especially in or with picture frames.  More importantly though, just about everyone refers to black as a colour, not as a shade, so, owing to popular opinion, we will refer to it as a colour.  

Let us begin to say that we think that, broadly speaking, black has unjustly gained an undesirable reputation over the years. Many an interior designer have disparaged this colour as gloomy,  dispiriting, or funereal, even.  But we really don’t think so and, in fact, we think that a bit of black here and there is necessary to “lift” any room. If you like, think of black mascara applied to eyelashes, it will define and enhance the eyes’ colours and shapes, invariably to good effect.  And so it is with black picture frames. 

These can be truly versatile and capable to successfully complement most décor.  Imagine black couches, white shelves, oak wardrobes, orange chairs, yellow windows, purple walls or what have you, a black picture frame will fit in! A black moulding around a frame always helps define the art or image it houses by enclosing and defining it in a visual space disparate to and from whatever wall it’s hung on.  In particular, a black frame with a white mat can be the epitome of décor elegance as discussed in our post “Of Window Mat Designs and Proportions”. 

Black mouldings may have a matte, sating or gloss finish, be flat, smooth,  patterned,  embossed,  ridged or stepped even but, regardless of the finish, always mark out and define the framed art.  Indeed there are many places and situations where one or multiple black picture frames will create memorable décor. Think of a new house with a long, large empty hallway with huge, blank spaces. 

Well it’s just asking to be filled with an array of black or dark-timbered picture frames!  This colour frame highlights and re-focuses the beholder’s eye towards the art, a sign of good ande competent picture framing.  Additionally, the colour or shade neutrality of such frames means that these may be deployed any subject and colour mix, whether contemporary, or not. Aside from the colour itself, the surface finish is also important, in so far that it can and does alter its appearance. 

Black mouldings made from wood and thinly often show the grain whereas those with composite ( a kind of white, gesso filler that can be milled and machined ) are often perfectly flat and smooth.  These frames have really always been popular, but so are the polar opposite, or white frames.  On these latter ones, we have published a post “ Of styles and trends: The empty white walls minimalist polemic” discussing this trend.  

The beauty of picture frames is that you can pretty much frame anything with them.  Drawings, charcoals, pastels, photographs, prints, posters, Limited Editions, serigraphs, etchings, maps, screen prints, sporting images, memorabilia, gouaches, watercolours, oil paintings even, the list goes on and we can’t think what cannot be framed with a black frame.  In fact, most of the poster frames we sell are black, ready-made frames.   

With these frames, one of our most popular one is the A2 black for straight framing, usually for inexpensive prints.  Artists, on the other hand, prefer to fit window mats to their art and our matted A2 to A3 black ready-made frame is a constant top seller. 

Do-it-yourself framers and hobbyists also often buy pre-cut black window mats with the A3 to A4 opening, being  a popular choice.  The moulding for these popular frames is a 2x3cms square-profile, smooth black, “box”  picture frame, so called because it is higher than it is wider, or in other words, having that "boxy” look which is so cool and modern. 

Black picture frames, and for that matter, any photo frames or picture frames, can help remember events, tell stories and capture the past so personally and intimately that once hung on walls, can make a house into a home. They’re also easy to select as these tend to find most subjects, moods and occasions. If you’re a lady, think of black handbag or a black pair of shoes, if you’re a man, think of a black wallet or belt.  All those black accessories pretty much go anywhere at any time and so it is just as easy to choose with black picture frames.

During our many picture framing consultations we have found the quite a few Customers want their art framed simply, affordably, but elegantly, hence, black frames!  Another plus is that black furnishings are great helpers and natural contributors to just about any interior or inner home style. Interestingly, black furniture, fittings, walls and ceilings makes them appear larger than what these really are.  Black frames can also be framed in a groups or clusters with a large one surrounded by other smaller ones. 

The larger one will be an important focus, a visual anchor, much like a large TV screen or centrepiece statue and making a décor statement. Another advantage in buying black picture frames is the ease with which scratches, hole and cuts can be touched up.  In many cases, an inexpensive black texta, marker, or putty even,  is all it’s needed to touch up and camouflage most damages which tend to show up badly because of the inveariably lighter wood under the paint or compo. 

Annother, yet one more favourable aspect of choosing these colour frames, is their cheapness.  If you take a most common profile, a 2x2cms square, micro-composite moulding profile and give it 2 different colour coatings, say white and black, the latter will always be cheaper. Why this is so is because of the economies of scale which enable a black moulding to be bought at  a lower per metre cost when they purchased in large quantities. 

Ask any picture framer about this and he or she  ought to readily concur that black frames outsell any other colour at a ratio of  2 to1, if not more.   No one is really sure why black is so popular, since it represents sadness and darkness.  Johnny Cash, the  U.S. Country and Western legend, chose this stage costume colour so often that he became known as  ‘The Man in Black”.  The use of black even antecedes classical antiquity art, as evidenced by Lascaux Cave in south-western France which depicts various animals drawn from palaeolithic period around 20,000 years ago. 

Those primitive artists started by using  burnt wood charcoal progressing to darker and black pigments by admixing charred bones with manganese oxide dust. And since antiquity black has been the symbolic colorific representation and display of power, authority, dignity, majesty and solemnity as attested by the clothing frequently worn by the clergy, magistracy and judiciary. 

Pertinently, black is also the commonest in colour used in and for the printed media, principally because of its high contrast value against white paper, the medium of choice.  Lastly , black frames with black window mats are still a popular arrangement, particularly by male Customers, though female Customers invariably choose the polar opposites.By way of an end note, you can’t really go wrong choosing  a black frame, it’ll always be popular, versatile and able to adorn any wall in any adobe.

No matter what the art, originals, reproductions, Limited Editions or photographs, black frames will always define their art and make it eye-catching.  Lastly, the impartiality and neutrality of this colour frames permit their usage with monochromes, polychromes and any other variety and admixture of tints, shades and true colours for any style, contemporary, rustic, modern or avant-garde, even. 

For those readers wishing to know the price of black custom frames, please visit our  Custom Picture Frames and Picture Framing Prices Estimator page.


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