To try the “feel” of a picture in a particular setting, cut out a piece of paper to the outside size of the framed piece. Use brown craft paper or the back side of a gift wrap (looking at as pattern would be distracting). Grocery bags work well for smaller pieces; just set the picture on the bag, trace with a pencil and cut out. If you need to make larger templates, stop by our store. We have a huge 36″ wide roll of craft paper and can sell you a huge piece for a couple of dollars.
Use that blue Scotch painter’s tape to hold the paper in place temporarily. Live with the paper for an hour or two to see if you like the placement. Move the paper higher or lower and see how that feels. We especially love the craft paper method when hanging collages–it makes it so much easier to get the spacing between pictures even. If you are hanging a shelf or an object, like a floral piece or a mask, you can make a template for that too. When we hang for clients, I have a set of sturdy matboard strips in various widths that makes it easy and quick to get the spacing between items uniform. If you want to do the same, you could make something similar from paper or ask us to make you a set.
When you are satisfied with your arrangement, it is time to start hanging. We use OOK brand professional hangers when we do installations. At $2.49 a package, they are 10 times more expensive than the ones we give away, but they are crazy strong, easy to reposition and make itty bitty holes. The itty bitty holes are nice because if you do put a hole in the wrong place, it’s difficult to see. Yes, we keep these in stock and they range from 10 pieces to 1 piece per pack, depending on weight of the piece. You can hang up to 100 lbs in sheetrock without toggles, wall anchors or molly bolts! I’ve had a 7′ long mirror hanging with 2 of these for over 12 years in my own home.
Now, for the hanging part: LEAVE THE DARN PAPER IN PLACE. Give a little yank on the wire and measure the distance between the wire and the top of your frame. Make a little mark on your paper the same distance. Grab one of those nifty OOK hooks and hammer away RIGHT THROUGH THE PAPER. Tear away the paper after the hook is installed, leaving your walls nice and clean. Grab the picture and put it up, taking care to install it so that the wire is actually on the hook and not on top if it. It is always good to have a helper on large pieces.
With larger and heavier pieces (I use 36″ as a rough guide), we always hang with TWO HOOKS. Do everything the same way as above except that you will space two hooks about 6-12 inches apart from center. Make all of your marks on the brown paper and it is pretty easy. It is helpful to have a level but not absolutely necessary. You can just measure from the floor or ceiling to make your marks, you don’t have to be perfect to get a level picture. Consider two hooks if you are hanging a picture in high traffic area or any where it might get knocked a bit. It is certainly better to err on the side of caution than to risk ruining a nice piece of art (not to mention the person or furniture underneath it!
A word of warning—if you are hanging something that came with two hooks and no wire, there is probably a reason for that. Please don’t add a wire without thinking it through. In most cases, the piece is either too large or t00 heavy to hang properly with a wire and if you add one you may come home one day to your artwork on the floor! Lately, we’ve had a few people stop in wanting us to add a wire to a piece of preframed, mass produced art we’d normally figure was plenty small to handle the wire. But upon inspection, the frames have been a polystyrene material (which is a foam-like plastic product) which is very weak and our theory is that the manufacturer has problems with the screws pulling from the material when wired. In any of these cases, we recommend hanging with two hooks is done much the same way as described above except that you have to mark and place hooks level and the proper distance apart for a successful job.
By the way, if all of this sounds like a something you don’t want to do, Frame Minnesota Eagan does provide hanging services. Give a call. We are happy to help.
On a side note, when installing art is commercial spaces accessible to the general public is another animal entirely. You have to think about the liability issues surrounding the possibility of the artwork falling on person or object below it as well as theft and tampering. These issues are beyond the scope of this article but we can help in many if not most situations. We have two lines of security hardware, along with a cleat system for hanging heavy artwork, including mirrors.