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2-Sided Framing of a 17th Century Bible Page

2-sided frame of a 17th C. Bible PageInscribed Metal Plate in Keyhole Opening of front mat
This framing project presented some challenges, though none were insurmountable. Framing something so that you can see the front and the back is known, in the framing parlance, as a "Recto-Verso" frame. That is, you can see the object framed from the front and the back. What this means is that we had to cut two mats (we selected an Artique 3513 Black Pepper Linen). The front mat has a keyhole opening, at the bottom, for the engraved metal plate that describes the framed document. Because we, generally, make the keyhole opening in the mat 1/8" larger, all around, than the plate, we need to see the mat color. Here's the problem, though:  Because there is another mat behind this one, facing the other direction, the back of the mat is white (but we want it to be the same color as the front showing in that 1/8" zone surrounding the silver plate). Since there is no keyhole opening in the back mat, we have the full back of the mat to work with behind where the plate attaches. So, we took the fallout from one of the two mats and peeled the linen face off it. Then, using a sheet of Double Tack 2-sided adhesive, we attached the fabric to the lower back face of the back, or verso, mat. That gave us the black background to which we glued our silver plate.

Verso Side of the 17th c. document
Problem #2: How do you hold two layers of glass and two layers of matting in the frame without a lot of unsightly framer's points sticking out around the perimeter of the back opening. The answer:  Rabbet-Space. It is a black, plastic, "Z" shaped extrusion that can be cut and screwed into place. 

Wall Buddies Corner Hanging Hardware detail
Problem #3: How do you stretch hanging wire across the back if you need to see the back side of the document and you have a clear zone all around the recto-verso document?  The document is encapsulated between two sheets of mylar, so that there are no hinges or adhesives touching it and is, therefore, preserved and totally archival in the way it is held in place. However, since the clear zone, all around it, can be seen through, we needed to attach hanging hardware to the top rail so that it would not be seen from the front.  Answer: Wall Buddies. This ingenious piece of hardware attaches to the back of the frame at the top corners. It hangs on a V-shaped hook with a nail through it at a 45 degree angle. The serrated edge, on the Wall Buddies, catches on the nail in the "crotch" of the V-shaped hook. It is quite ingenious. Therefore, no wire is used and it is way, way stronger than a saw-tooth hanger attached in one or two places at the top.

The frame, that we used, is a Larson-Juhl  #200752 "Sofia" in a dark, silvery-gray "Iron" finish that is about 7/8" wide. It has a "crenellated" edge, much like the battlements atop the roof of a castle or a late medieval manor (and seemed totally appropriate for this design).

Framing design, photography and execution by Brian Flax, CPF
Images shown courtesy of our client Joe J.