Framing Matters

by Chris A. Paschke, CPF GCF



IEA Newsletter - Wax-On, May 2011

"Off With Their Heads!"


Screw eyes, also known as eye hooks or eye screws, are designed as an all in one piece of hardware which screws into the back of the frame sides for attaching wire, and although many artists feel rather secure when using them they are not much better than a sawtooth hanger.


There are many reasons for reconsidering use of eyes.


·       When an eye is twisted into hard woods such as natural maple, solid oak or black walnut stresses occur at the transition point where the screw meets the eye weakening it. If too small an eye has been selected for too hard a wood the eye has been known to twist off from the inserted screw.


·       In soft woods such as pine or reconstituted wood such as MDF—medium density fiberboard—the threading can create sawdust rather than grabbing the wood grain as it is inserted which allows for the screw to pull out over time.


·       Insertion of a strong enough eye to hold most standard frames lists the frame away from the wall while the eye rubs against the wall which can leave a mark on the wall and if the eye is close to the exterior edge of the frame may by visually unpleasing.


·       Screw eyes also greatly stress the sides of the frame where they are inserted. They weaken the wood on particularly thin or narrow frames and if the frame is the least heavy can actually break out the side of the frame moulding.





photo 1 – Screw Eyes


Regardless of lightweight short shaft (L) or heavy duty long shaft (R)

the eye is only as strong as the neck between the threads and the eye

marked with the arrow.






Proper Installation
They should be installed about 1/3rd down the back side of the frame on either side. Mark your point and drill a pilot hole or make an indentation with an awl, install the eye and add the wire. There is most definitely a right and wrong way to add wire and next month I will cover weights and variations of wire.  Many people live under the misconception that the setting of hardware in the exact location either edge of the backside of a frame will insure level hanging, but the only thing it does is creates even tension on both sides of the frame.  Use of two hangers--rather than one--will distribute the weight and allow for more horizontal balance.


It is unlikely a small, lightweight 6x6" encaustic piece will ever have issues with eyes, but something 24x24" with the added weight of wax can definitely stress a traditional frame. If an unframed cradle or panel with float frame are used there is less likeliness eyes will be selected as the hardware of choice.


Today the most used framing hardware is the D-ring. It lies flat and although is screwed into place there is no stress point as the neck of a screw eye. They may be mounted at the proper angle for the wire or vertically to be hung directly on the wall mount for very heavy art.




photo 2 – D-Rings


D-rings come in a variety of sizes from the tiny 1/4" (L)

to the mirror hanger heavy 3" version (R).










For additional information on framing basics visit or email me at


Copyright © Chris A Paschke, 2011



Chris Paschke, CPF GCF

Designs Ink

785 Tucker Road, Suite G-183

Tehachapi, CA 93561