Glossary of Terms


Acid Damage – Cheaper, and particularly older, framing techniques use or used material that contained acidic chemicals.  As pictures and artwork tend to remain in the same frame for years, over time, the acid can leach out and damage the artwork.  This manifests itself as small dark spots that run through the picture.  If the picture has been framed for a very long time, sometimes these spots become larger.  Today, there are techniques available to remove the marks and good quality framers use acid-free framing material to prevent acid damage.

Acrylic – a type of glass substitute which is a resin perceived as a high quality clear plastic.  It may be used instead of glass in a pictureframe but more commonly is used for frameless display either for sandwiching artwork in between two sheets or to mount artwork to the back of it.

Acrylic Paint – a type of oil-paint substitute with a similar viscosity that uses water as a solvent which makes it relatively quick drying.

Aquatint – a type of etching in which a powdered resin is used to reduce the level of etching achieved over specific areas of the plate in order to provide a tonal effect.  See also mezzotint.

Artwork – A generic term used to describe a piece of visual art which may be of many different types: drawing, etching, painting, collage, graph, photograph, lithograph, print, watercolour or cartoon.

Bevel – A slant or angle on a surface.  In picture framing, it is most commonly the edge cut in a piece of mountboard to form the aperture through which the image is viewed.  The bevel exposes the ‘core’ of the mountboard to view.  Most commonly this is white and known as ‘whitecore’ but redcore’ and blackcore’ are also available.

Blackcore – A mountboard (mat) with a core that is coloured solid black.

Board – this is board which is generally used for oil painting.  It is available in a variety of forms, a simple hardboard such as might be used in the building industry, a specialist artboard where the surface of the hardboard has a texture specifically designed to take oil paint or canvas-wrapped board which, as the name suggests, is hardboard with canvas material wrapped and glued to it to provide a ‘stiffer’ canvas surface on which to paint.

Box Frame – a frame generally made to accommodate a three-dimensional object.  Commonly, a box frame is used to frame sports memorabilia.

Brilliant Cut – this term, normally associated with diamonds, is also used to describe mounts which have been cut in an unusual decorative fashion.

Canvas – A heavy, coarse, closely woven fabric of cotton, hemp, or flax and traditionally used for the sails of ships and yachts, tents and bags.  For painting purposes, canvas material is stretched over a wooden frame to provide a taut flat surface on which to pain.  Canvas is particularly good medium on which to paint with oil paint because of its texture.  Traditionally the stretched canvas is ‘sized’ or ‘primed’ before painting starts.

Circle or Circular – We can supply circular frames in a range of sizes and finishes – please see our readymade frame selection . We can also cut circular mounts to fit into circle frames, square frames or rectangular or oblong frames.

CMC (Computerised Mount Cutter) – This equipment allows us to easily create mounts with numerous apertures in any shape. It also speeds up production considerably for volume or bulk mountcutting. The mountcard is clamped onto a large bed over which a CNC controlled beam travels carrying the cutting head on the required path. The cutter uses electric power for the operation of its motors and compressed air or pneumatic power for clamping and insertion of the blade. It is run by a proprietory software on a normal PC.

Conservation – the process of preserving an object for posterity.  In picture framing this is very relevant as an item can remain framed for many years.  This means that the materials that are used in framing need to be free from any residual chemicals that might harm the artwork.  The term ‘Conservation’ also denotes a specific type of mountboard (mat) that has had any harmful chemicals reduced to a low level.  For very delicate artwork, or for artwork of very high value ‘Museum’ type mountboard (mat) should be used which has no chemical residue.

Core – The central ‘filling’ of a piece of mountboard (or mat) that provides its strength.  The colour of the core is the colour of the bevel that borders the aperture through which the artwork is visible.  See also: Blackcore, Redcore and Whitecore.

Dry Mounting – This is a process in which very large or very delicate pieces of artwork are fixed under a combination of high temperature and reduced pressure to a substrate.  The idea is to give them greater rigidity and strength so that they maintain their shape when framed.  It is particularly relevant for large posters.

Dorset Art Weeks – the original, biggest and best Art Trail event in the UK. Over 600 open studios many of them PictureFrames customers. Everything from paintings to sculpture to photography to furniture. Click here to find out more…

Etching – an etching is the term used to describe a print that is made from an etched metal plate.  The plate may have been etched chemically or physically and the grooves that remain hold sufficient ink so that when the metal plate is brought into contact with a sheet of paper, the ink is transferred and the print is made.  See also aquatint and mezzotint.

Engraving – similar to an etching, but the plate is carved directly with various tools rather than using acid.

Foxing – see Acid Damage.

Frame – An open structure used to enclose or define an area.  Generally a frame is a structure upon which, to which, or inside which, other components are added or affixed.

Giclée– a term used to describe a digital print made on an ultra-high resolution inkjet printer.  The name comes from the French word ‘gicleur’ which is a word that describes an individual who squirts liquid through a nozzle.

Gouache – This is a type of painting that is similar in appearance to watercolours.  Traditionally it is a paint that has been mixed with Gum Arabic to give greater opacity although there are gouache inks as well.  Gouache work needs to be treated as a watercolour.

Gum Arabic – a naturally occuring substance from two specific species of African Acacia tree used as a binder for watercolour painting.

Hand Finished – frames which are made from natural wood moulding as opposed to factory finished moulding, and then finished with paint, lacquer, polish, wax, gesso, clay bole, gold leaf or any other type of gilding process etc.

Hand made frames – generally means the same as hand finished…

Ingres – textured mountboard.

J Hooks – extra strong brass hooks which are screwed to the wall for hanging heavy pictures and mirrors.

Kohler System – a proprietory system which aimed to simplify the process of gilding.

Landscape – 1. a painting of natural outdoor scenery. 2. a description of the orientation of a picture where the width is greater than the height (as opposed to “portrait” where the height is greater than the width).

Mat – US/Canadian usage only – see Mount.

Mezzotint – a method of etching in which the metal plate is covered in great numbers of small indentations to hold ink.  Conventional etching then provides delineation but the artist is able to modify the amount of ink held by the plate by filling the small indentations with varying amounts of resin thus providing control over light or dark.

Moulding – This is the term used for the material used to form the rim of a picture frame.  Traditionally mouldings are made from timber with a vast range of finishes applied to it.  Comparatively recently, metal, particularly aluminium, has been introduced and also resins and plastics which provide the ability to minimise the width of the moulding visible from the front of the picture and to offer a wider range of ornate mouldings more economically.

Mount – Also known as a window mount, or in America a mat. A mount is a carefully crafted sheet of high quality card that fits between a piece of artwork and the glazing of a framed picture, with a hole or “aperture” cut in it to see the artwork. A mount enhances a piece of art by creating a visual space between the artwork and the frame, but it also serves a practical function in spacing the artwork away from the glass. This space avoids the risk of the artwork (particularly photographs) sticking to the glass and also of fungal growth aided by the moisture build up at a point where the paper touches the glazing.

Multi-Aperture Mount – a mount or mat with more than one aperture. We can supply mounts with any number of apertures in any configurations and the apertures can be rectangles, squares, ovals, circles or indeed almost any shape and any size (the ideal way to order is to email us a drawing)

Natural Wood – wood which is unfinished. No paint, varnish, polish, lacquer or wax has been applied. Frames made out of some woods such as oak may be left in this state but others such as obeche are better finished.

Oval – strictly an oval is a mathematical shape where two pairs of arcs form a shape with two axes of symmetry more here… The word derives from the Latin word for an egg (ovum) and can loosely describe any egg like shape. We can supply oval frames in a range of sizes and finishes – please see our readymade frame selection . We can also cut oval mounts to fit into oval frames, square frames or rectangular or oblong frames

Portrait – 1. a painting or photograph of a person. 2. a description of the orientation of a picture where the height is greater than the width (as opposed to “landscape” where the width is greater than the height).

Print and Frame – our unique service where you can upload you digital image, “try on” hundreds of mounts and frames in our state of the art online framing studio, and have the finished framed picture delivered to your door. Start printing and framing

Quality Frames and Framing –, the UK’s leading picture framer

Ready Made Frame – a picture frame which comes in a standard size. The advantage of a ready-made frame is that it can be mass produce gaining economies of scale and therefore a lower price: this is definitely the case with swept frames and ovals etc but in standard oblong or rectangular frames and mounts our efficient production and online ordering system has narrowed the gap and a custom-made frame offers far greater choice of style and any size. See our readymade frame selection

Stretchers – these are the frames upon which a canvas or other textile are stretched either as a complete ready to hang work, or prior to framing. A proper stretcher frame has a special mitred mortise and tenon joint at its corners which expand when special wedges are inserted into the corners. Because of the complexity of these joints, strretcher bars are normally supplied in standard sizes.

T-Hinges – are a traditional method of mounting paper works to an undermount. They should be made from archival quality gummed paper – e.g. the white gum tape supplied with all of our glazed frames – read more and how to make them at 

Undermount – A piece of high quality board, normally mount-board (supplied with all PictureFrames glazed frames) onto which the artwork is laid and which provides protection from the wood acids in the hardboard back.

Verdigris – A finish which resembles the grenish colour of oxidisation on brass.

Weighted Mount – a mount that has a greater margin at the bottom than at the top and sides – read more

Xenophilia – an attraction to or affinity with foreign cultures and people.

Yard – measurement: 3 feet or 0.914 metres

Z-Clips – A fitting supplied with picture frames without glazing or back to fit oil paintings on canvas into the picture frame.