Provenance, Inc.

Welded Art Frames: A Distinct Statement in Steel

A raw welded steel float frame hosting an oversize Art Deco mirror. For added stability, a wood panel back with engaged cleat was installed. Backing and a wall mounting wedge for secure installation.

Rust and oxidation stained industrial ingredients of our world have a seductive beauty. Leached onto the surfaces of concrete or stone of our dwellings, they speak about the presence of concealed steel frames that provide the structure to our homes. This hidden provenance becomes evident wherever we move. Why not bring this structure to the forefront, and make it a distinct statement?

Why Steel?

Welded steel frames have become more prominent of our contemporary tastes over the past two decades. The strong and barren character of steel itself adds an interesting industrial contrast to the traditional approach of custom framing one thinks of with finished wood or refined gold frames. Steel frames can come in the infinite profiles, joining styles, and surface treatments to either obscure or add to their industrial appeal.


Steel frame options can be fabricated to emulate traditional engaged profiles to more contemporary back panels and float frames. Steel frames are often used as minimalistic float frames where the actual frame face surface is the actual thickness of the steel edge as in the photo below. The same frame can be reversed, and the back could be featured as the frame’s face. The surface can be finished, painted, incised, drilled or even adorned with hardware to achieve the desired aesthetic.

Example of a raw steel float frame

Steel float frame hosting a mirror

This sophisticated custom welded float frame features elegant thin groove that contrasts with edge thickness. Rather than a narrow width, the frame was designed to have a ½” face, to add more prominence to both the frame and the art piece.


Welded frames are in the category of closed-corner or finished-corner frames. They are finished after cutting to exact dimensions and joining. Welding is a process of joining together metal segments by applying high heat that melts the base material segments resulting in fusion while cooled down. In addition to melting the substrate, usually there is a filler material introduced that forms a weld pool of molten material within the seam. The overfill in the weld pool creates a weld line that can be left exposed or smoothed. A fillet profile can be concave, flat, or minimally convex.

Smoothed seam butt joint weld on the frame face. The butt joint is created where two surfaces butt up against each other creating a single plane surface.

Exposed butt and fillet weld (flat surface and corner joint) for distinctive aesthetics. The frame features advanced degree of oxidation.


The finish can be customized depending on the desired presence, or lack of the burnout, rust, or natural oxidation that transforms the steel surface in surprisingly unpredictable patterns. Some surfaces are finished to provide sophisticated pattern and sheen however. Here is just a preview of many possibilities:

Mill scale finish
Mill scale is the flaky surface of hot rolled steel and it is its most raw surface.

Oxidation and rust
Showing off natural patination of the material.

Grinded patterns
Varying degrees of grinding from fine to rough.

Brushed patterns
Evenly brushed finish vs. sharp surface finish, brushed etching.

Gloss, satin, matte, raw finishes.

At the end, there are final coatings applied to add colorization or tint if desired, as well to seal the surface to deter oxidation and corrosion.

Below: Examples of frames with grinding patterns done by hand. The patterns vary from frame to frame. Natural traces of impurities in the steel are present.

Detail of an 1” wide molding steel frame with ground gloss finish

Detail of an 1” wide molding steel frame with hammered blue finish

Detail of an 1.5” wide molding steel frame with etched gloss finish

Detail of a 5/8” wide molding steel frame with zirconia bronze finish

Detail of a 0.75'“ wide molding steel frame with ground gunmetal

Detail of an 1.25” wide molding steel frame with brushed satin finish

Detail of an 1.25” wide molding steel frame with carbon finish

Detail of a 2.5” wide molding steel frame with bolt decoration

Detail of a floater frame with burnished satin polished edge

If you have questions, please feel welcome to contact us at Provenance, Inc.
Provenance specializes in Museum Quality Framing, Fabrication & Display.

Phone: (312) 243-2633