I have been doing portraiture since I was 16 and always found that framing can be incredibly expensive. When I first moved to Connecticut in 1988 I began working at Koenig's Art Emporium in downtown Hartford and learned a lot about the hows/whys of framing. I had scars on my fingers from cutting sheets of glass, dry-mounted prints on foam core and cut mats in a rush for customers who needed one done in a hurry. I also tallied up the cost of an ornate wooden frame, mat, glass, to the dismay of customers who said, "But, this picture cost me only $10" - it didn't matter - the larger the picture, the more money it cost.
When I complete a portrait on commission, the client frames them. But, when I started creating my own fine art, I ran into these cost issues.
After years of spending a fortune on framing this is what I do: I buy Pleine Aire frames when they are at least 50% off. These are the wooden pieces, or chops, only. No glass or mat. I then purchase plexiglass and an 8-ply mat from The Framer's Edge in Orange, CT. I order over the phone and they deliver to my door. I don't think their prices can be beat. I purchased a Fletcher driver which shoots metal points into the wood in the back, securing the artwork within the frame. So, I put it together myself and at the end, what would have cost me $200 and up to frame one piece, finishes at about $60. There may be even less expensive ways to do it, if I bought the chops and put them together, cut my own mats, but, I am not about to attempt cutting an 8-ply mat and I just don't have the time!