How should your baby’s hand & foot casts be framed?

Box frames or open frames: How should your baby hand & foot casts be framed?

Once you have baby casts created you will want to display them proudly on the wall of your home. There are lots of different options to do this. 

How do you decide how to frame your baby's hand and foot casts?

In this blog, I am going to share my thoughts on two types of framing - Box framing/shadowing framing behind glass, and Open framing where the casts are mounted in front of the glass.

BOX FRAMES & SHADOW FRAMES

The old fashioned, or common way to frame baby casts was to use a box frame, sometimes called a shadow frame (because they’re dark and shadowy!)

A box frame can be made in two ways.

  1. it can be constructed by a lightweight box, sometimes made out of thin ply, pine or cardboard, with a frame stuck to the front of the box. 
  2. Or it is constructed using a broader frame, instead of this being front-facing it’s used to construct ‘a box’ deep enough to put the casts into. 

Both then have casts attached to the backing mount (cardboard) with a single sheet of untempered (not safety) glass fitted to the front, supported by a few millimeters of frame rebate. 

deep box frame baby casts

“Box frames are safer for your baby casts”

You may have been told, “Box frames are safer for your baby casts”. I recently had a customer tell me they’d been told this. Oh, dear.

Safer than what?

What dangers are your baby casts going to face hanging on the wall of your home?

Personally I don’t think my living room is a high-risk area in terms of safety. I don’t feel the need to wear a high visibility vest, I don’t ask guests to wear safety helmets. I generally don’t feel the need to carry out a risk assessment before precariously making my way through to the kitchen! 

If by safer you mean it’s hidden in a dark, shadowy box behind a reflective sheet of untempered glass...then yes...your casts are safe - safely hidden! #rolls eyes

Obviously accidents can happen. Something might fall or be thrown and hit your casts. Just as any ornament or fragile item in your home there’s always the risk of breakage. 

I don’t know about you, but if I was in a dangerous situation - would a 2mm sheet of untoughened glass be your first choice to provide you with safety??? hmmm

1
Shards of annealed broken glass
Shards of annealed broken glass

BROKEN GLASS

If annealed glass breaks, it tends to break into longer, jagged, unpredictable and dangerous shards  — as opposed to tempered safety glass which shatters into small chunks and pieces.

If you imagine the difference between smashing a drinking glass, and how a car windscreen breaks.

Frames will usually have the cheaper, annealed glass.

Tempered safety glass breaks into small nuggets
Tempered safety glass breaks into small nuggets

What happens if the annealed glass (which is in front of your baby casts)  is broken on your box/shadow frame?

Where will that smashed, flying glass go? Well, the shards either smash back cutting into your precious baby casts with shards of glass, possibly with force. The broken glass will cause more damage to your casts than whatever broke the glass in the first place. As well as smashing back towards your baby casts it can potentially fall out the unsupported frame and injure those nearby. 

That box frame isn’t sounding so safe now, is it? 

Other reasons I prefer not to use box frames -

  1. Box frames are dark and shadowy, they hide the contents.
  2. Box frame contents are only fully visible when you stand directly in front. Who wants to look at the side of a box? 
  3. Box frames hide a LOT of imperfections and poor workmanship. I have nothing to hide 🙂 
  4. annealed glass is not non-reflective. Do you want to see reflections or all the beautifully handcrafted details of your baby’s casts? * nonreflective glass is available.
  5. Baby casts are as tactile as babies themselves! You should touch them, hold them, feel them and enjoy them. Not hide them in a dark shadowy box. 
  6. Box frames are common and (in my opinion) boring. Most are purchased from mass produced makers or made to a standardised format. They have no individuality in design and can be easily copied and replicated. They all just look the same.

 

baby hand and foot casts
lifecasting
baby hand and foot castings glenrothes kirkcaldy fife

OPEN FRAMES/FRAMING BABY CASTS ON TOP OF GLASS

This style uses a more traditional design of frame - the backboard, mounts, display etc is all held within the frame rebate, but the casts are mounted in front of the glass. 

When a suitable frame is created and casts are mounted on top of glass properly, you can admire, touch, feel, enjoy and clearly see your baby casts. They are not at any more risk of damage - in fact, in my opinion, they are less likely to be damaged. In my 16 years of lifecasting I can count on one hand the number of issues that have arisen. And not one of those was made worse by the choice of an open frame.

Why I promote open frames for Impressive Memories:

Back in 2003 when I first started lifecasting I experimented with a lot of new ideas and one of those was to frame the casts in front of the glass instead of behind. I hadn’t seen this being done by anyone. 

My reasons for preferring open frames:

  1. I love that casts are so tactile. I want to touch them, feel those little wrinkles, remembering the tiniest of details.
  2. I don’t have bad workmanship to hide behind reflective glass.
  3. They’re bright & visible to display
  4. Uninterrupted views of your baby casts from any angle. 
  5. No shadows. 
  6. No blocked views. 
  7. Risk of cast breakage is lower.
  8. Risk of dangerous glass falling is minimal.

Of course any frame with glass can be broken, but if the glass is fitted in a ‘standard frame’ where the glass sits against the mount and backboard, the glass is more supported. Of course it can still break, but the likelihood of the glass actually falling or flying out in shards is vastly reduced. The breakage is likely held within the backing of the frame and the impact might have missed your casts altogether...but if something did directly hit your baby casts it might break, but they have encountered impact from only one source, not the double impact of shattering glass also hitting them. The damage would be far more localised too.

baby hand and foot castings glenrothes kirkcaldy fife
IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE FRAME...

It’s important to remember that although we’re discussing frame options, the robustness of your casts themselves is just as important as any frame. No frame will protect poorly made casts, created in a cheap or wrongly mixed stone material that haven’t been dried, sealed or created properly. 

All casts created at Impressive Memories are made from very high density stone which is far more robust than a sheet of annealed glass. Of course they aren’t unbreakable, but in the event of damage occurring I know my materials should break cleanly, not crumble, and I can repair 99.99% of damage invisibly if it ever does happen. 

Some lifecasters choose to use much cheaper and softer stone powders which do not have appropriate strength or longevity.

Frame mouldings can be made from many different materials too. This plays an important part in the strength, longevity and suitability. At Impressive Memories my luxury frame range are hand made for me, from a recycled, environmentally friendly material.  

If I want a box frame does that mean I can’t come to Impressive Memories?

Not at all. I have created several works in box frames over the years, but I’ve never bought from a mass-produced off the shelf company. I have mine hand made for me, reflecting my own style, design, and brand. If you would like your casts framed in box frames, just let me know and we can do that. What I won’t do is copy another life caster's unique style. If it’s a standard generic look that’s no problem. But why would anyone ever want to be standard or generic? 

CONCLUSION

Choose how you frame your baby life casts in a way that you love. Enjoy them, treasure them, touch, hold and let them remind you of how impressively unique and beautiful your baby was - remember how tiny and perfect they were - in all their wriggly glory! Safe in the knowledge that the moment has been immortalised. 

If you like things hidden in glass boxes...visit a museum!!

Would you like to know more about Baby Lifecasting at Impressive Memories?
baby lifecasting answers for new parents in Fife, Glenrothes, Kirkcaldy, Edinburgh, Lothians, Dundee, Perth.

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