What To Think About When Choosing A Medal Frame

February 19, 2018

What To Think About When Choosing A Medal Frame

You might be considering buying a frame for yourself or someone you know and think, "I'll Google around the internet until I find one that looks good and fits my budget." Is there anything else that might affect your frame choice? Maybe yes and maybe no. Here are a couple of suggestions that I often tell my customers.

Frames under $100


Let's start with a budget; maybe it's $100 or less. I have a lot of frame layouts for under $100, that are sized 11" x 15" and smaller. With these frames, there are two options. They can be used either as a desktop with an easel back or with a wall hanger. They will also come in a traditional, single moulding frame as opposed to a shadowbox or nested artisan type frame. However, there may be monthly specials and promotions where I have some artisan and shadowbox frames for under $100. It's always a good idea to check the sale frames to see what's available.


Artisan four medal frame


If budget isn't a concern and you are looking for "WOW!", then shadowbox and artisan frames might be the answer. Artisan frames are a semi-shadow with multiple levels of nested moulding, while a shadowbox has a deep, rich shadow that is cast onto the matting due to its depth. Each artisan frame creates a visually stunning border around the memorabilia, while shadowbox frames have a simple, yet deep moulding that enhances the elegance of the item inside.

Savannah Marathon Frame Example


How much ribbon do you want to show? Not all medal windows are created equally. Smaller frame layouts might hold 4" medals, but the amount of ribbon will be limited to 1 - 3 inches above the medal. If the ribbon has a logo or writing that you want to display, then it is a good idea to measure from the bottom of the medal to 1/2" above what needs to show on the ribbon and add another 1/2" to be safe. I find that a 10" tall medal window is usually enough for medals with fancy ribbons.

Chicago Marathon Frame Example


What else do you want to include in the frame? Each year, I receive a myriad of requests for all sorts of memorabilia. Some of the more popular items are: pictures (size and orientation), race bibs, swim caps, Spartan Headbands and event programs. These all add to the story of the frame, but can also significantly increase the size and price as well. Take the Spartan Trifecta frame below for example.

Spartan Trifecta Frame Example


I started with three medals, three headbands, and three trifecta pieces. I wanted to create something awesome for my first Spartan Trifecta, and this frame became 46" wide by 24" tall. I used an Artisan moulding design which has three levels of nested mouldings stacked and secured together. To reproduce this frame, box, and ship it would cost $399, while a simpler version would be half the price at $199 and take up less wall space.

Triathlon Event Plate Example


Next up are event plates. Event plates aren't a must, as many medals have all the event information displayed on the face and printed on the ribbon. However, if you want to tell more of a story, event plates are a great place to put the athlete's name, date of the event, location and any other pertinent details. If there are a lot of details, then a frame with a larger event plate will work better than trying to shrink the font down to size 6 to fit everything. My recommendation is, if I need to size the font lower than 11-point, you need either a larger plate or less wording.

I've placed each of the frame facets above in the order in which I think when making a layout:
- What's my budget?
- How much ribbon do I want to display?
- What else, besides the medal, do I want to include?
- How big do I want the frame?
- Do I want an event plate?
Once I've answered these five questions, I have a good idea of what my frame layout will look like and what style of moulding to go with.


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