Title:
Frame kit
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A frame kit includes materials sufficient to frame and display at least one piece of artwork, including one or more sets of a frame, a backing or matting piece and a transparent cover sheet. In addition, the backing piece and the cover sheet are packaged in a compact way such that the materials of at least one frame kit fit into a container. The container is suitable for shipment without oversize fee charges or with reduced oversize charges relative to those due for packaged assembled frames. The frame kit may include a poster or other piece of artwork such that, when the frame kit is received by the user, the artwork can be immediately framed and displayed using only the articles contained in the frame kit.



Inventors:
Klein, Michael J. (Orange, CT, US)
Tzovolos Jr., Basile (Orange, CT, US)
Application Number:
11/110147
Publication Date:
01/11/2007
Filing Date:
04/20/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G1/06
View Patent Images:
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20080066356Luminous DisplaysMarch, 2008Miller et al.
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20010003878Self-attaching banner and banner frameJune, 2001Dawkins
20040128885Curb address bannerJuly, 2004Evans
20040016164Interlocking frame assemblyJanuary, 2004Gilchrist et al.



Primary Examiner:
KIM, SHIN H
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Boardman & Clark LLP (Madison, WI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A frame kit, comprising: a container; at least one set of frame rails, each set of frame rails comprising at least three frame rails forming a frame when assembled together; and at least one of: at least one transparent cover sheet, each transparent cover being sized to extend between the at least three frame rails of a given set of frame rails when that set of frame rails is assembled to form a frame, and at least one backing piece, each backing piece being sized to extend between the at least three frame rails of a given set of frame rails when that set of frame rails is assembled to form a frame; wherein the at least one set of frame rails and the at least one of a) the at least one transparent cover sheet and b) the at least one backing piece can be suitably packaged into the container.

2. The frame kit of claim 1, wherein at least one of the at least one transparent cover sheet is deformable and is rolled for placing into the container.

3. The frame kit of claim 2, wherein the at least one rolled transparent cover sheet is placed in a protective tube and the protective tube is placed in the container.

4. The frame kit of claim 1, wherein at least one of the at least one backing piece is folded.

5. The frame kit of claim 1, wherein each of the at least one folded backing piece has incisions on alternate sides of the backing piece and wherein the incisions cut extend at most partially through that backing piece.

6. The frame kit of claim 5, wherein each of the at least one folded backing piece is folded along the incisions when placed in the container.

7. The frame kit of claim 5, wherein, when unfolded, each of the at least one folded backing piece forms a substantially rigid planar member.

8. The frame kit of claim 1, wherein a first box is provided at a first end of the container and a second box is provided at a second end of the container.

9. The frame kit of claim 8, wherein the protective tube is packed in the container between the first and second boxes, such that the protective tube is positioned between the first and second boxes in the container.

10. The frame kit of claim 8, wherein hardware and/or instructions usable to assemble the at least one set of frame rails, the at least one backing piece and the at least one transparent cover sheet of the frame kit into at least one frame are packaged in the first and/or second box.

11. The frame kit of claim 1, further comprising at least one piece of artwork in the container.

12. The frame kit of claim 1, wherein the container is tubular.

13. The frame kit of claim 12, wherein at least one of the at least one transparent cover sheet is rolled and disposed against the inner perimeter of the container for shipment.

14. The frame kit of claim 12, wherein at least one of the at least one backing piece is folded.

15. The frame kit of claim 14, wherein each of the at least one folded backing piece has incisions formed on alternate sides of the backing piece and wherein the incisions cut extend at most partially through the backing piece.

16. The frame kit of claim 12, wherein each of the at least one folded backing piece is folded along incisions when placed in the container.

17. The frame kit of claim 12, wherein a first support element is provided at a first end of the container and a second support element is provided at a second end of the container.

18. The frame kit of claim 17, wherein the at least one set of frame rails and the at least one backing piece are packed in the container between the two support elements, such that at least one of the at least one set of frame rails and at least one of the at least one backing piece are positioned between the first and second support elements in the container.

19. The frame kit of claim 12, further comprising at least one piece of artwork in the container.

20. The frame kit of claim 1, wherein a length/girth measurement of the container is less than a length/girth measurement of a package usable to contain a largest one of the at least one set of frame rails when assembled into a frame.

21. The frame kit of claim 20, wherein the length/girth measurement of the container places the container in a less expensive shipping rate class than the shipping rate class defined by the length/girth measurement of the package.

22. A method of packaging at least one frame kit into a container, comprising, for at least one of the at least one frame kit: obtaining at least three frame rails; at least one of folding a backing piece and rolling up a cover sheet; and packing the frame rails and the at least one of the rolled-up cover sheet and the folded backing piece for that frame kit in the container.

23. The method of claim 22, wherein, for each folded backing piece, folding that backing piece comprises folding at least two sections of that backing piece along at least one incision between the at least two sections of that backing piece.

24. The method of claim 23, further including, for each folded backing piece, cutting at most partially through that backing piece on alternate sides of that backing piece prior to folding that backing piece.

25. The method of claim 22, further comprising, for each rolled cover sheet, placing the rolled cover sheet in a protective tube prior to placing the rolled up cover sheet inside the container.

26. The method of claim 22, further comprising placing at least one piece of artwork in the container.

27. A method of assembling a frame from at least one frame kit contained in a container, the frame components of at least one frame kit contained in the container including: at least three frame rails; and at least one of a folded backing piece and a rolled cover sheet; the method comprising: removing the frame components of one of the at least one frame kit from the container; assembling at least two of the frame rails to at least partially form the frame; unfolding the backing piece if included in the frame kit; unrolling the cover sheet if included in the frame kit; placing the unrolled cover sheet in the frame if included in the frame kit; and placing the unfolded backing piece in the frame if included in the frame kit.

28. The method of claim 27, further comprising including at least one piece of artwork in the frame kit, the method further comprising: placing one of the at least one piece of artwork in the frame; and assembling the at least one remaining frame rail with the at least two assembled frame rails to complete the frame.

29. The method of claim 27, further comprising assembling the at least one remaining frame rail with the at least two assembled frame rails to complete the frame.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to a frame kit.

2. Related Art

There are many methods and systems for framing posters, pictures or other pieces of artwork. These systems range from custom framing to off-the-rack frames that may be bought and adjusted to the appropriate size to fit a desired piece of artwork. In most cases, when an individual desires to frame a picture or other piece of artwork, it is not only necessary to select a frame, but the piece of artwork must be mounted and set into the frame before it can be displayed.

Both custom framed and pre-framed pieces of artwork are bulky, fragile and expensive to transport. The expense of transporting a custom frame or a pre-framed piece of artwork is not solely due to the weight of the frame but also due to its size. Shippers typically add surcharges for oversized packages. For example, a framed print, generally the size of a commercially bought poster, will have combined length and girth measurements of greater than 84 inches, which is typically the trigger value for surcharges. Thus, when this size limit is exceeded, there are usually extra shipping charges. In contrast, if the user purchases a disassembled frame, the shippers surcharges can be avoided, but the user must assemble the frame. However, to be useful, the artwork also needs to be mounted on some backing material, such as foam core board. In many instances, a transparent cover sheet is also desired. However, while there are commercially-available frame kits, generally only the frame itself (i.e. the frame rails and the connecting hardware), without either or both of the backing material or the cover sheet, is provided. Even then, the frame is provided in a disassembled state.

Conventional frame kits do not include the backing material or the cover sheet usable to create a mountable and displayable framed piece of artwork. Additionally, neither the backing piece nor the transparent cover sheet is easily shipped. For example, commercially available foam core board is available in sheets measuring up to 32×40 inches. Because of the cost when shipping planar pieces, these components, which create a complete framed piece of artwork, need to be purchased separately from the frame itself.

Examples of framing systems include U.S. Pat. No. 4,356,648, which describes a temporary framing system for displaying advertising panels. The kit comprises four edge pieces, corner connecting pieces, and mounting brackets that are used to secure the edge pieces to a display surface. Similarly, U.S. Pat. No. 4,982,517 discloses a snap-together picture frame, which includes four edge pieces, each with a clip on the end, that are mated with an interlocking component on the adjoining edge piece. U.S. Pat. No. 5,187,886 describes a picture frame assembly that includes four edge pieces and four corner pieces. The corner pieces fit into grooves on the edge pieces, thereby holding the edge pieces together. While these conventional frame kits allow a user to assemble a frame to hold a piece of artwork, they do not provide materials sufficient for the user to create a complete, framed piece of artwork to be displayed.

SUMMARY OF DISCLOSED EMBODIMENTS

While these known frame kits provide a frame for a piece of artwork, they do not provide materials sufficient to use the frame without purchasing additional items. Further, while frame rails are easily shipped, the other items that allow the user to create a complete framed piece of artwork are generally not shipped with the frame assemblies because of the increased cost of doing so.

This invention provides a frame kit that includes materials sufficient to completely frame and display a piece of artwork.

This invention separately provides a frame kit that is easily shipped.

This invention separately provides a frame kit that can be economically shipped.

This invention separately provides a frame kit that includes a backing material for the piece of artwork.

This invention further provides a frame kit in which the backing material folds along cuts such that the backing material fits compactly within a shipping container.

This invention separately provides a frame kit that includes a transparent cover piece for the frame and piece of artwork.

This invention further provides a transparent cover sheet for the front of the frame that is rollable, such that the cover sheet fits compactly within a shipping container.

This invention separately provides a kit for framing a piece of artwork that includes a piece of artwork, such that upon opening the kit, the frame and piece of artwork can be readily assembled and displayed without needing to obtain or purchase any further items.

In various exemplary embodiments, one or more frame kits according to this invention are packaged in an easily and economically shippable container. Typically, each frame kit includes frame rails, a backing or matting piece, a protective transparent cover sheet that fits within the frame and hardware usable to assemble the frame kit components into a framed piece of artwork. In addition, in various exemplary embodiments, the frame kit also includes a piece of artwork of appropriate size to fit inside the frame, such that the piece of artwork is easily framed and ready for display. In various exemplary embodiments, a particular frame kit can include the backing or matting piece but omit the protective transparent cover. In various other exemplary embodiments, a particular frame kit can include the protective transparent cover but omit the backing or matting piece.

In various exemplary embodiments, a method of packing a frame kit according to this invention includes selecting a desired frame, selecting a backing piece and/or selecting a transparent cover piece. The method also includes cutting and folding the backing piece and/or rolling the cover sheet and placing the cover sheet in a protective tube. In various exemplary embodiments, the method includes packing the components in a container so that the component pieces are compactly and securely packaged in the container.

In various exemplary embodiments, a method of using a frame kit according to this invention includes obtaining a frame kit, unpacking the components, unrolling the cover piece and/or unfolding the backing piece and assembling the frame rails into a frame. In various exemplary embodiments, the method according to this invention further includes inserting a picture or other piece of artwork between the cover sheet and the backing piece and putting the piece of artwork in the frame.

In various exemplary embodiments, the frame kit can be ordered by phone, by mail or over the internet by a user and economically shipped to the user, such that the frame kit can be immediately used by the purchaser upon receipt of the frame kit. In various exemplary embodiments, the frame kit includes a container or box, the container or box containing articles sufficient for assembling the frame, framing the piece of artwork, and displaying the framed piece of artwork.

These and other features and advantages of various exemplary embodiments of the frame kit and methods according to this invention are described in, or are apparent from, the following detailed description of various exemplary embodiments of the article and methods according to this invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Various exemplary embodiments of the structures according to this invention will be described in detail, with reference to the following figures, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a top plan view of one exemplary embodiment of the frame kit according to this invention;

FIG. 2 is a first side plan, cut-away view of the frame kit shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a second side plan, cut-away view of the frame kit shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a rolled transparent cover sheet of the frame kit stored in a protective tube;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a backing piece of the frame kit in a semi-folded position;

FIG. 6 is a top plan view of a second exemplary embodiment of the frame kit according to this invention;

FIG. 7 is a first side plan, cut-away view of the frame kit shown in FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a second side plan, cut-away view of the frame kit shown in FIG. 6;

FIG. 9 is a flowchart outlining one exemplary embodiment of a method for preparing the frame kit according to this invention.

FIG. 10 is a flowchart outlining one exemplary embodiment of a method for using the frame kit according to this invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

There are a variety of systems, methods and kits available to construct frames for various types of artworks. Conventionally, these assemblies or kits comprise four side rails that are connected together to create a four-sided frame for the piece of artwork. However, in most cases, the frame kit does not include a matting or backing piece that is suitable to hold the artwork in the frame, nor do such conventional frame kits generally include a cover sheet that is suitable to provide a transparent and protective cover for the piece of artwork inside the frame. In most cases, where a transparent cover sheet and/or backing piece is needed, the material is purchased in a much larger size than the frame and must be cut to the correct size. In addition, while a frame is easily disassembled for shipment, the uncut backing piece and cover sheet are not amenable to being easily and economically shipped. Therefore, in most cases, the user must purchase a frame and separately purchase the backing piece and the cover sheet. Moreover, the backing piece and the cover sheet will most likely need to be cut to the appropriate size for the frame.

Typical shipping rates used by most domestic shipping companies, such as the U.S. Postal Service, United Parcel Service, Federal Express and the like, are based on length and girth measurements of the package being shipped. In particular, length is defined as the longest dimension, while girth is defined as twice the sum of the other two dimensions. Standard shipping rates are applied to packages having a length-girth measurement of less than or equal to 84 inches.

Oversized shipping rates are then divided into three classes, oversize 1, oversize 2 and oversize 3. Oversize 1 shipping rates are applied to packages having a length-girth measurement greater than 84 inches and less than or equal to 108 inches. Oversize 2 shipping rates are applied to packages having a length-girth measurement greater than 108 inches and less than or equal to 130 inches. Oversize 3 shipping rates are applied to packages having a length-girth measurement greater than 130 inches and less than or equal to 165 inches. Packages having a length-girth measurement over 165 inches cannot be shipped using the standard domestic home delivery services offered by most domestic shipping companies.

Typically, most domestic shipping companies set the shipping rates for oversize I packages to the rate for a 30-pound package, regardless of actual weight. Likewise, the shipping rate for oversize 2 packages is set to the rate for a 50-pound or 70-pound package, regardless of actual weight. Finally, the shipping rate for oversize 3 packages is set to the rate for a 90-pound package, regardless of actual weight, along with an oversize package surcharge of $30-$40. However, once a package is classified as having a weight over 70 or 90 pounds, depending on the shipping company, that package cannot be delivered using the standard home delivery service, but must be placed on a pallet and delivered using the shipping company's freight delivery service.

For a typical frame usable to frame a 27 inch by 41 inch piece of artwork, shipping that frame in an assembled state would require at least a 29 inches by 43 inch by 3 inch package, which has a length-girth measurement of 107 inches, just barely being shippable at an oversize 1 rate. If the frame itself has any appreciable width, an oversize 2 shipping rate would be necessary. However, since many packaged frames are only in the 1-5 pound range, applying a 30-pound or a 50-pound-70-pound shipping rate to the package significantly increases the shipping cost of the package, possibly to the point where the shipping costs exceed the price of the frame itself.

FIG. 1 is a top plan view of one exemplary embodiment of a frame kit 100 according to this invention. As illustrated in FIG. 1, the kit 100 includes packing elements 110 and framing elements 210. The kit 100 is easily packaged in an economically shippable container 112. A protective tube 120 contains a transparent cover piece 220. The container 112 also includes a foldable backing piece 230 and a set of frame rails 212, which, in a typical embodiment, includes two side rails and two end rails. A frame rail support 114 is attached to the inside of the container 112. At least some of the frame rails 212 extend through the frame support 114, which acts to constrain, contain or secure the frame rails 212 within the container 112 during shipping.

FIG. 2 is a cut-away view of a first side of the frame kit 100, including the frame elements 210 packaged in the container 112. As shown in FIG. 2, the frame elements 210 are snugly packed in the container 112, providing a compact package that is not oversized for shipping. In various exemplary embodiments, the container 112 and other packing elements combine to protect and/or cushion the frame elements 210 when placed inside the container 112. As shown in FIG. 2, in various exemplary embodiments, a first spacer box 116 is placed or located within the container 112 at the bottom of the container 112. The protective tube 120 is placed on top of the first spacer box 116. A second spacer box 118 is placed on top of the protective tube 120. The combination of the first and second spacer boxes 116 and 118 and the protective tube 120 substantially occupies the space of the container 112 along its long axis. This combination tends to prevent the contents of the container 112 from shifting during shipment. A transparent cover sheet 220 is rolled up and stored within the protective tube 120. This tends to protect the cover sheet 220 within the container 112 during shipping.

In various exemplary embodiments, the spacer boxes 116 and 118 and the protective tube 120 are sized to allow room for a backing piece 230 and the frame rails 212 to be packed along the inner sides of the container 112. It should be appreciated that, in various exemplary embodiments, the spacer boxes 116 and 118 can also be sized to support and/or cushion the frame elements 210 when in the container 112. It should further be appreciated that, in various exemplary embodiments, the boxes 116 and 118 may also contain hardware 216 (not shown) and/or instruction sheets usable when assembling the frame elements 210.

For a typical frame useable to frame a 27 inch by 41 inch piece of artwork, the frame kit 100 has dimensions of approximately 43 inches by 10 inches by 10 inches, which as a length-girth measurement of 83 inches, and thus can be shipped using actual weight shipping rates rather than oversize 1 shipping rates. Moreover, because, as shown in FIG. 1, the materials for one such frame will not fill up the container 112, two or more separate sets of framing elements 210 can be included in one 43 inch by 10 inch by 10 inch container 112. In particular, when shipping 1, 2 or more sets of framing elements 210 that are up to a maximum of 32 inches by 42 inches in the same 43 inch by 10 inch by 10 inch container 112, the 1, 2 or more transparent cover sheets 220 can be rolled up and placed in the protective tube 120. Then, the 1, 2 or more backing pieces 230 can be inserted into the container 112 between the frame support 114, the protective tube 120 and the inner wall of the container 112. Likewise, the 1, 2 or more sets of frame rails 212 can be inserted into and secured by the frame support 114.

Additionally, by using a slightly longer protective tube 120, and by reducing the size of one or both of the first and second spacer boxes 116 and 118, or omitting them entirely, even larger frames can be accommodated in the container 112. That is, by using the longer protective tube 120, 1, 2 or more sets of framing elements 210 that are up to a maximum of 42 inches by 42 inches can be packed into the same 43 inch by 10 inch by 10 inch container 112. Again, the 1, 2 or more transparent cover sheets 220 can be rolled up and placed in the protective tube 120. The container 112 also has sufficient room to hold all of the necessary frame rails.

For a typical frame useable to frame a piece of artwork that is larger than 41 inches in any one dimension and a maximum of 60 inches in any dimension, the frame kit 100 has dimensions of approximately 62 inches by 12 inches by 12 inches, which as a length-girth measurement of exactly 108 inches, and thus can be shipped using oversize 1 rather than oversize 3 shipping rates. Moreover, because the materials for one 60 inch by 60 inch frame will not fill up a 62 inch by 12 inch by 11 inch container 112, two or more separate sets of framing elements 210, each up to 60 inches by 60 inches, can be included in that container 112. As above, when shipping 1, 2 or more sets of framing elements 210 that are up to a maximum of 60 inches in either direction in the same 62 inch by 12 inch by 11 inch container 112, the 1, 2 or more transparent cover sheets 220 can be rolled up and placed in the protective tube 120. Then, the 1, 2 or more backing pieces 230 can be inserted into the container 112 between the frame support 114, the protective tube 120 and the inner wall of the container 112. Likewise, the 1, 2 or more sets of frame rails 212 can be inserted into and secured by the frame support 114.

FIG. 3 is a cut-away view of a second side of the container 112 containing frame elements 210 shown in FIG. 1. In FIG. 3, the side is cut away showing the frame rails 212 in the foreground with the folded backing piece 230 shown to the side. In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 3, the frame rails 212 extend along the side of the container 112 and are surrounded at one end by the frame support 114. The frame rails are placed between the spacer boxes 116 and 118 and the protective tube 120. In addition, in the exemplary embodiments shown in FIG. 3, the folded backing piece 230 is positioned between the side of the container 112 and the spacer boxes 116 and 118 and protective tube 120. In various exemplary embodiments, the backing piece 230 is not only snugly stored between the tube 120 and the side of the container 112, but also can act to support, buffer and/or cushion the contents of the container 112. In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, the inner dimensions or space of the container 112 are appreciably filled, across its short axis, by the protective tube 120, the folded backing 230 and the frame rails 212

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of one exemplary embodiment of the cover sheet 220 rolled-up and stored inside an exemplary protective tube 120. In various exemplary embodiments, the cover sheet 220 is pliable and can be rolled without breaking. In some exemplary embodiments, the cover sheet 220 is fabricated from plastic or other transparent pliable material. As illustrated in FIG. 4, in various exemplary embodiments, the protective tube 120 has a top portion 121 and a bottom portion 122. However, it should be appreciated that, in some exemplary embodiments, the protective tube 120 is unitary with the frame elements 210 and packing elements 110 inserted from either end. When a two-piece protective tube 120 is provided, the user can easily insert and remove the transparent cover sheet 220 by removing the top portion 121 of the tube 120. This tends to free a portion of the cover sheet 220 from the interior of the tube 120 without unnecessarily further coiling the transparent cover sheet 220.

In various exemplary embodiments, the top portion 121 and the bottom portion 122 of the tube 120 are securely held together by the recoil pressure of the transparent cover sheet 220 stored within the protective tube 120. In various other exemplary embodiments, tape or other material can be used to hold together the two portions 121 and 122 of the tube 120. In various exemplary embodiments, a poster or other piece of artwork is included in the container 112 as part of the frame kit 100. In various exemplary embodiments, the artwork is placed inside the rolled cover sheet 220 stored in the protective tube 120. In various other exemplary embodiments, the artwork can be placed adjacent to the frame rails 212.

It should be appreciated that a flange or tongue and groove design could be formed in the opposing rims of the top portion 121 and bottom portion 122 of the protective tube 120. In addition, in some exemplary embodiments, the tube 120 may have top and bottom coverings. In other exemplary embodiments, there is no covering; the tube 120 is placed between the spacer boxes 116 and 118 situated at the top and bottom of the tube 120 cover and protect the contents of the tube 120, as illustrated in FIG. 2. Further, it should be appreciated that, while, in some exemplary embodiments, the protective tube 120 is made of cardboard, the tube can be fabricated from any suitable, lightweight material, such as, for example a sufficiently rigid paper or plastic tube, a PVC tube or the like.

FIG. 5 is a schematic perspective view of the backing piece 230 in a partially unfolded state. As illustrated in FIG. 5, the backing piece 230 has two outer layers 231 and 233, which are attached to opposite sides of an inner core 232. As shown in FIG. 5, by making incomplete incisions, on alternate sides of the backing piece 230, that cut through an outer layer 231 or 233 and some or all of the inner core 232, the uncut outer layer 231 or 233 (and the un-cut portion of the inner core 232, if any) acts as a hinge. The backing piece 230 can then be folded, accordion-style, along the incomplete incisions in widths that allow the backing piece 230 to be placed into the container 112. In various exemplary embodiments, the folded backing piece 230 is placed into the container 112 along an appropriately sized side of the container 112.

It should be appreciated that, in various exemplary embodiments, if at least one of the lateral dimensions of at least one of the 1, 2 or more frames to be included in the container 112 is less than one of the lateral dimensions of the container 112, or possibly the diagonal dimension of the container 112, it may not be necessary to cut and fold the backing piece 230. Likewise, it may not be necessary to roll up the transparent cover sheet 220. In that case, if none of the 1, 2 or more transparent cover sheets need to be rolled up, the protective tube 120 could be omitted.

FIG. 6 is a top plan view of a second exemplary embodiment of a frame kit 300 according to this invention. In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 6, the frame kit 300 includes packing elements 310 and frame elements 210. As shown in FIG. 6, one of the packing elements 310 is a container 312. In this exemplary embodiment, the container 312 is tubular, but can be, in other exemplary embodiments, any appropriate shape, such as polygonal. In this exemplary embodiment, the protective cover sheet 220 is rolled up and placed directly inside the container 312. In addition, in the exemplary embodiment of the frame kit 300 shown in FIG. 6, the frame rails 212 and the backing piece 230 are also packed in to the interior of the container 312.

For a typical frame useable to frame a 27 inch by 41 inch piece of artwork, the frame kit 300 can have dimensions of approximately 43 inches long by 13 inches in diameter, which as a length-girth measurement of just less than 84 inches, and thus can be shipped using actual weight shipping rates rather than oversize 1 shipping rates. Moreover, because, as shown in FIG. 6, the materials for one such frame will not fill up the container 312, two or more separate frame kits can be included in one 43 inch by 13 inch diameter container 312. In particular, when shipping 1, 2 or more frame kits that are up to a maximum of 42 inches in either direction in the same 43 inch by 13 inch diameter container 312, the 1, 2 or more transparent cover sheets 220 can be rolled up and placed in the container 312. Then, the 1, 2 or more backing pieces 230 can be inserted into the interior of the container 312. Likewise, the 1, 2 or more sets of frame rails 212 can be inserted into the interior of the container 312.

For a typical frame useable to frame a piece of artwork that is larger than 41 inches in any one dimension and a maximum of 60 inches in all dimensions, the frame kit 300 can have dimensions of approximately 62 inches by 14.5 inches in diameter, which as a length-girth measurement of just less than 108 inches, and thus can be shipped using oversize 1 rather than oversize 3 shipping rates. Moreover, because the materials for one 60 inch by 60 inch frame will not fill up a 62 inch by 14.5 inch diameter container 312, two or more separate sets of framing elements 210, each up to 60 inches by 60 inches, can be included in that container 312. As above, when shipping 1, 2 or more sets of framing elements 210 that are up to a maximum of 60 inches in either direction in the same 62 inch by 14.5 inch diameter container 312, the 1, 2 or more transparent cover sheets 220 can be rolled up and placed in the container 312. Then, the 1, 2 or more backing pieces 230 can be inserted into the interior of the container 312. Likewise, the 1, 2 or more sets of frame rails 212 can be inserted into the interior of the container 312.

FIG. 7 is a cut-away view of a first side of the frame kit 300, showing packing elements 310 and frame elements 210 packaged in the container 312. As shown in FIG. 7, the protective cover sheet is packed between support elements 316 and 318 located at opposing ends of the container 312 along the long axis the container 312. The support elements 316 and 318 also close the container 312 for shipping. In various exemplary embodiments, the support elements 316 and 318 are put into the ends of the container 312. In some such exemplary embodiments, the support elements for the end caps of the container 312 may either fit tightly into the container 312 and/or be held in the container by tape, adhesive or any other appropriate device or material. In various other exemplary embodiments, the supports structures rest against the container 312, but do not necessarily fit into the container 312. Typically, such support structures 316 and 318 are joined to the container 312 using tape, adhesive or any other appropriate device or material. The opposing ends of the frame rails 212 and backing piece 230 fit into the support elements 316 and 318. This tends to secure the frame rails and backing piece 230 in the container 312 during shipping.

In addition, in the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 7, the container 312 has a first portion 321 and a second portion 322. Generally, for shipping, the first portion 321 and second portion 322 of the container 312 are sealed together by tape, adhesive or any other appropriate device or material. In some exemplary embodiments, the opposing edges of the first portion 321 and second portion 322 of the container 312 may have a flange or tongue and groove portion formed in the opposing edges. However, it should be appreciated that, in some exemplary embodiments, the container 312 may be unitary with the frame elements 210 and the packing elements 310 being inserted from either end.

For example, in various exemplary embodiments, it should be appreciated that, in some exemplary embodiments, rather than having separate support elements 316 and 318, the outer ends of the first portion 321 and second portion 322 are closed. This forms a closed container 312 when the first portion 321 and the second portion 322 are sealed together. In some such exemplary embodiments, the closed ends of the first and second portions 321 and 322 are designed to hold the frame rails 212 and the backing piece 230 for shipping. In various exemplary embodiments, the closed ends of the first and second portions are formed by making the support elements 316 and 318 integral with the first and second portions 321 and 322 respectively.

It should also be appreciated that, in some exemplary embodiments, the support elements 316 and 318 are polygonal, such that the support elements 316 and 318 fit snugly into the container 312. In other exemplary embodiments, the support elements 316 and 318 are roughly circular and fit snugly in the ends of the container 312. Further, in other exemplary embodiments, when the support elements 316 and 318 are circular an open-ended container 312 may be used and the support element 316 and 318 used to seal the ends of the container 312.

It should be appreciated that, in some exemplary embodiments, for a particular set of framing elements 210 contained within the container 112 or 312, either the backing or matting piece or the protective cover could be omitted. If the container 112 or 312 includes a plurality of separate sets of framing elements 210, one sets of framing elements 210 could omit a backing piece, while another could omit the transparent cover, while another could include both the backing piece and the transparent cover. It should be appreciated that any combination is possible.

FIG. 8 is a cut-away view of a second side of the frame kit 300, showing the packing elements 310 and the frame elements 210 packaged in the container 312. As shown in FIG. 6, when folded, the backing piece 230 and frame rails 212 occupy only the center portion of the container 312. When a piece of artwork is included with the kit 300, the artwork easily fits inside the container 312 especially when rolled up, by being packed in the inner space of the container 312 along with the frame rails 212 and backing piece 230. In other exemplary embodiments, the piece of artwork may be rolled up with the protective cover sheet 220 so that the artwork lays against the inner perimeter of the container 312 or the coversheet 230. In the exemplary embodiment of the frame kit 300 shown in FIGS. 6-8, hardware and instructions usable to assemble and frame the artwork can be stored in one or both of the support elements 316 and 318 or placed in a separate container, which is placed into the interior of the container 312. In this case, the separate container can be attached to the fame rails 212 and/or the backing piece 230.

In various exemplary embodiments, the backing piece 230 may be commercially available foam core board. Such foam core board has an inner foam layer laminated between two paper layers. Foam core board, while light, is rigid and is commercially available in at least thicknesses of ⅛ and 3/16 inch. When the cut foam core board is opened at the hinge-like, uncut outer layer 231 or 233, the opposing cut-through portions, if any, of the inner core 232 abut each other, allowing the backing piece 230 to provide a rigid and planar support for the artwork. Further, in various exemplary embodiments, when the folded backing piece 230 is unpacked from the container 112 and unfolded, it has the appropriate dimensions to fit within the assembled frame rails 212. In various exemplary embodiments, when the backing piece 230 is placed in the frame, it is confined in a planar conformation. It should be appreciated that, in various exemplary embodiments, the backing piece can also be created by using several individual pieces of backing material. In such exemplary embodiments, the individual pieces can be attached on alternate sides of the individual pieces by paper, plastic or cloth tabs or any other known or later developed attaching members, devices or the like, to create hinges that allow the attached backing pieces to be folded against each other.

It should be appreciated that various exemplary embodiments of the frame kits described above provide components sufficient to frame a picture or other piece of artwork so that the picture or other piece of artwork is ready for display. By combining the frame rails 212, the backing piece 230 and the front cover sheet 220, the framing elements 210 according to this invention easily fit into a shipping container 112 or 312 having a polygonal or circular cross-section.

FIG. 9 is a flowchart outlining one exemplary embodiment of a method for preparing a frame kit according to this invention. As shown, in FIG. 9, in various exemplary embodiments, the method starts in step S100, and continues to step S110, where the frame rails for the desired frame size are selected. Next, in step S120, a cover sheet and a backing piece are selected. Then, in step S130, the cover sheet is cut to the appropriate size to fit in the frame. Operation then continues to step S140.

In step S140, the backing piece is cut to the appropriate size to fit in the frame. Next, in step S150, incomplete incisions, such as cutting only through two layers, are made on alternate sides of the backing piece. Then, in step S160, the backing piece is folded at the hinges created by the uncut outer layer. Operation then continues to step S170.

In step S170, a container and a protective tube are selected. Then, in step S180, the cover sheet is rolled-up and placed in the protective tube. Next, in step S190, hardware and/or instructions usable to assemble the set of framing elements are packed in a container. Then, in step S200, the sets of framing element components selected, modified and produced in steps S110-190 are packaged in a selected container. Operation of the method then continues to step S210, where the method ends.

In some exemplary embodiments, when a piece of artwork is included in the frame kit, the piece of artwork can be rolled up and placed inside the rolled up cover sheet. In various other exemplary embodiments, the rolled up artwork is placed outside of the protective tube, such as next to the frame rails. In addition, it should be appreciated that steps S110-210 can be performed in any appropriate order. For example, steps S130 through S180, comprising preparing the backing piece and cover sheet, can be performed in any appropriate order so long as the elements are appropriately packaged in the container. Likewise, if the backing piece or the cover sheet for a particular set of framing elements is to be omitted, step S120 can be appropriately modified, and step S130 or steps S140-S160 can be omitted. On the other hand, if a plurality of sets of framing elements are to be placed into the same container, steps S110-S190, as appropriate, are repeated for each set, before the plurality of sets of framing elements are packaged into the selected container in step S200.

FIG. 10 is a flowchart outlining one exemplary embodiment of a method for assembling the components of a frame kit according to this invention into a frame usable to hold a picture or other piece of artwork. As shown in FIG. 10, in various exemplary embodiments, operation of the method starts in step S300 and continues to step S310, where the user obtains a desired frame kit. Next, in step S320, the frame kit is unpacked. Then, in step S330, two or more of the frame rails are assembled using the enclosed or suggested hardware to frame at least a portion of the frame. Operation then continues to step S340.

In step S340, the cover sheet is removed from the protective tube and is unrolled. Then, in step S350, the backing piece is unfolded. Next, in step S360, the unrolled cover sheet is placed in the frame. Operation then continues to step S370.

In step S370, the piece of artwork to be framed is inserted behind the cover sheet. Next, in step S380, the backing piece is inserted into the frame. Then, in step S390, the remaining frame rail or rails are assembled, using the included or suggested hardware, to complete the picture frame. The picture frame is then ready to be placed on display. Operation then continues to step S400, where operation of the method ends.

While FIG. 10 illustrates one exemplary embodiment of a method of using the frame kit, it should be appreciated that steps S310-S390 may be carried out in any suitable order that makes assembling and using the frame kit convenient for the user. Likewise, if the backing piece or the cover sheet for a particular set of framing elements has been omitted, steps S350 and S380 or steps S350 and S360, respectively, are omitted. On the other hand, if a plurality of sets of framing elements are to be placed into the same container, steps S330-S390, as appropriate, are repeated for each set.

The artwork can be any desired piece of art, such as a poster, a photographic print or the like. It should be appreciated that, when the frame kit includes a picture or other piece of artwork, the included artwork can be any thing that is suitably used with the frame. For example, a user may view a catalog or webpage showing commercially available prints or other pieces of art and then select a frame and backing piece to complement the desired piece of artwork. When a piece of artwork is included with the kit, the user obtains the kit and assembles the frame, then inserts the artwork into the frame and the framed piece of artwork is ready for display.

It should be appreciated that, in various exemplary embodiments, the frame rails included in the frame kit can be the components of any frame desired by the user. For example, the frame may be a metal frame with connectors used to connect the four rails of the frame. Alternatively, the frame may be a traditional wooden frame that fits together by tongue-and-groove joint construction. The frame kit according to this invention is particularly amenable to use with pre-printed artworks such as posters, photographs, prints or the like that are generally available in standard sizes. Further, while one exemplary embodiment of the cover piece is a rollable transparent plastic sheet, any other known or later-developed rollable transparent material is acceptable. For example, a variety of polymers or clear rubber is appropriate. Similarly, while, in one exemplary embodiment the backing piece is commercially-available foam core backing piece, in other exemplary embodiments, the backing piece is any rigid or substantially rigid material that can be folded or packaged in a substantially compact form and unfolded to form a generally rigid backing piece for the frame.

The above-outlined exemplary embodiments of the frame kit according to this invention are usable to package, store, economically mail and assemble a frame usable to display a piece of artwork. Each of the various structures and methods described herein are separately useful. It should be appreciated that the frame kit according to this invention does not need to use all or even a plurality of the various structures disclosed herein and can use specific features selected from each of a number of such exemplary embodiments.

While this invention has been described in conjunction with the exemplary embodiments outlined above, various alternatives, modifications, variations, improvements, and/or substantial equivalents, whether known or that are or may be presently unforeseen, may become apparent to those having at least an ordinary skill in the art. The exemplary embodiments of the invention as set forth above are intended to be illustrative, not limiting. Various changes may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. The invention is intended to embrace any appropriate alternatives, modifications, variations, improvements and/or substantial equivalents.