Books Advises

Framing Handbooks

How to Make Your Own Picture Frames
Ed Reinhardt, Hal Roger

Excellent book for the beginner.

Mat, mount and frame it yourself
David Logan

An attractive, well-designed frame not only enhances a picture but preserves and protects it.

Basic Picture framing
Amy Cooper

This detailed guide covers the essentials the beginner needs to get started...


When you're framing a portrait... or a landscape, you regret sometimes to not know how to trace an oval... And yet, it is easy and this page is made for you to remember old school memories... you can't escape completly mathematics if you want obtain a precise ellipse !

So, take your compass, your pencil and... let's go !

A little vocabulary…

Look at the diagram of the ellipse… And the points which will have to be known to trace our oval : the center O, distances OA and OB.

oval drawing method

To obtain the points F1 and F2:
- with your compass, take the spacing between O and A.
- prick the compass on B and, with this spacing, trace F1 then F2.

Ouf ! There is finished! End of mathematics works ! The ellipse is almost built!

On the photograph, you see the mat on which you've drawn the margins. Then you've traced the medians which cross in O.

With the compass, take spacing OA.

oval drawing with compass


Pricks the compass on B and draw F1 while cutting OA. In the same way, trace other side to obtain F2.


oval drawing #2

F1 and F2 are the “focis” of the ellipse and will be used for the layout of this one. For that, we employ the gardener's technique !!! With a thread and a pencil !

The example:

Your mat measurements are 9.6"x7.2" and you want obtain margins of 1.5".

First draw your margins and, starting from the middle of edges, trace the axes of your ellipse.

With the compass, take the spacing OA and, pricking it on B, draw F1 then F2 (they are roughly 3" to O)

Layout of the ellipse

Pose your mat on a thick paperboard and prick 2 pins with rounded head on the points F1 and F2.

With a sewing thread, form a loop, pass it in the pins. Tighten the loop towards A and locate with a felt-tip pen the place where you will make the node.

oval drawing with wire


Form the small node, tend slightly without tightening, and with a needle, regulate while sliding the node until it is on the mark you marked with the felt.

When the node is not tightened, you can move it on the loop with a needle. When the loop is tighten, it is necessary that the node arrives exactly in A.

oval drawing

It is not easy with the first test… start again with a new wire if necessary.

When your loop is ready, you can draw your ellipse : put a pencil in the loop, gently tighten the loop and draw keeping the loop taut.

oval drawing

If you have properly calculated and if all goes well … the ellipse well respects the margins which you had fixed.