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A picture frame is a decorative edging for a picture, such as a painting or photograph, intended to enhance it, make it easier to display or protect it.
The frame along with its mounts protects and often complements the artwork. Art work framed well will stay in good condition for a longer period of time. Joan Mirَ once did a work specifically to frame with a flea market frame.
Many painters and photographers who work with canvas "gallery-wrap" their artwork, a practice wherein the image extends around the edges of the stretched canvas and therefore precludes use of a traditional picture frame, although a floater frame may be used. As picture frames can be expensive when purchased new, some people remove pictures from a frame and use the frame for other pictures.
Picture frames have traditionally been made of wood, which is still the most common material, although other materials are used including silver, bronze, aluminum, and plastics such as polystyrene. A picture frame may be of any color or texture, but gilding is common, especially on older wooden frames.
Some picture frames have elaborate molding which may relate to the subject matter. Complicated older frames are often made of moulded and gilded plaster over a plain wood base.
Picture frames come in a variety of profiles, but generally the lengths of moulding feature a "lip" and rabbet, the function of which is to allow a space to hold in the materials in the frame. The lip extends usually about a quarter of an inch past the edge of the rabbet.
Picture frames are generally square or rectangular, though circular and oval frames are not uncommon. Frames in more unusual shapes such as football shapes, stars, hearts can be hand carved by a professional wood carver or carpenter There are also picture frames designed to go around corners. A popular design is the scoop, an indent in the frame adding depth.
"L"-style frames are a simple variety that are constructed with a single L-shaped border of wood, with the bottom part of the L, or rabbet, at the front of the frame to hold in the glass, object and backing, which are secured in from the back
A photo cube is a special type of picture frame, often used to show members of a family, a vacation, or a timeline of someone's life.
Other styles are clip frames (not really a frame at all), box frames and shadow boxes. A digital photo frame is an example of the changing technology of the 21st century.
Macaroni picture frames are a popular craft project for children. Uncooked pasta in various shapes are glued to a frame in a pattern. Sometimes the entire frame is painted.
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