First things first: the frame. You could take the most obvious route and hit up a store like Target or AC Moore but even low end frames can be somewhat pricey, which is especially annoying when they are poorly made. If you find a frame you like, take the time to check it out before you buy it.
- Look at the mitered corners. If there are gaps or they don't line up nicely, walk on by. You don't want to be annoyed every time you walk past the frame, do you? Plus, it doesn't look professional.
- Look for frames that are solid and sturdy, with nicely mitered corners.
- If you are planning on matting your artwork, make sure there is enough room for a mat (or two) in the back. Some cheaper frames have such a shallow spot for pictures that squeezing in even a single mat can be challenging.
You see, at some point in time, someone thought that Aunt Hilda's painting of a duck flying over a stand of Bob Ross-esque trees was worthy of professional framing. They took it to the frame shop and paid big bucks to have it put into a nice frame. Fast forward 20 years, Aunt Hilda dies and no one wants the duck. (How dreadfully morbid!) It gets donated to the thrift store, where it can be yours for the low price of $15. As it turns out, you can find a lot of nice frames at the thrift store. You can also find a lot of cheesy frames there too, but we'll ignore those. Basically, look for the same things I mentioned above, and two other things.
- First, does it have glass? Sometimes the glass is missing or didn't come with it (in the case of oil paintings and such). If you find a frame you love but it doesn't have glass, consider buying another frame with the same size opening so you can pilfer the glass for your dream frame.
- Second, look to see how its all attached. Some commercially framed pictures are sealed in such a way as to require the jaws of life to extract the picture from the frame. This is not necessarily a deal-breaker, just something to be aware of. These types usually require the generous application of pliers and elbow grease and end with a need to replace the backing piece (usually cardboard or mat board).