The easiest way to get bad service from a framer is to walk into their shop and say:
“I need a cheap frame.”
Everything else you say after that becomes gibberish. It’s not that we only want to work with rich people (well, not realistically at least) but that statement implies that you have no idea what we do, what goes into it and the expertise needed to do it. Not to mention, ‘cheap’ implies poor quality and the last thing any self-respecting custom framer wants to produce is a cheap frame.
Honestly though, we’re used to calmly and politely steering this conversation into a more reasonable direction. We will explain your options and why you may want to increase your budget…and there are some really good reasons to increase your budget (but that’s for another post).
If you are stuck to that tight budget, there are ways to get great custom aspects of your frames without the custom prices - and without insulting your local framer.
1) Know what goes into custom framing
There are many parts to a frame and a lot of steps in the process. Knowing what the framer does in the workshop will help you ask more informed questions.
2) Learn what parts you can DIY
You may not have a mat cutter or a chop saw, but if you have some common tools at home, you may be able to put all the custom cut elements together yourself saving on the cost of labor.
3) Get multiple frames at once - maximize on bulk discounts
Most framers offer bulk discounts since using the same moulding for multiple frames of the same size saves on time and material. Ask your framer what the minimum number is for a bulk discount.
4) Know the materials
Learn the difference between regular, conservation and museum quality materials. They vary in prices and quality - know what you need and ask for it specifically. A lot of framers will make assumptions and add the cost accordingly to avoid the tedious conversation of explaining every material choice and price difference. You can ask for a break down of the materials and cost. If you’re framing some postcards to brighten your hallway, you probably don’t need premium materials.