Another year has slipped by
The air was bright and crisp this morning. Blossom is appearing at the tips of branches, there are daffodils on my breakfast table in the sunshine, and each morning is brighter, and the evenings stretch out that little bit more. All so good for reviving the soul.
Why this Video?
It never crossed my mind that I’d get involved in framing. The thought of running my own business was daunting and I had no idea where to begin, so running a framing business was beyond my wildest dreams.
Over the years I have taught picture framing to hobby framers and those wanting to start their own businesses. Often 1-1 and many times in small groups, with a wide range of equipment or what we could get our hands-on. Some wanted to frame for family and friends and others wanted to focus on an area and had plans to niche into selling framed bouquets, sports shirts, silk scarves, or wedding dresses.
In this video, I share my path to reach where I am today, as a framer and trainer, and my idea for taking that training forward online and to show more people that it’s possible to learn a new hobby and take that a step further to earn a second income for the household.
I’d like to find and share those stories of how you can switch to a new career, one you haven’t thought about.
If you’d like to share your story, please get in touch.
Picture Framing Workshops
The minute the first lockdown was announced all my in-person framing training stopped. There was a small window in the middle of the year when schools and colleges were allowed back and so I taught at the local college for a few weeks.
A new development for me was teaching online, running live training sessions with backup supporting videos. They’re quite fun and the group sessions mean we can chat and share ideas and questions.
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What’s Happened to the Framing?
After the first lockdown in early 2020, my in-workshop framing appointments moved to the front doorstep and, depending on the status or level of lockdown, we worked on designs on a table at the door, or from a tray on the driveway, or customers simply handed over their artwork and we did the design in a follow-up video call. By the third full lockdown in January this year, unless you were passing the house for exercise, or on your way for food, I have discouraged even click and collect.
Thank you for your patience and for working with me in such a strange way. For those of you who are new to me, that’s not my usual way of working. A huge thank you for your support over the year. It’s unlikely I’ll have customers back in the workshop until at least the middle of the year.
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I love framing, I love teaching others to frame and I like meeting the people who I frame pieces for. That must mean that it was a clear path for me to choose to become a framer. Not so! I speak to younger people trying to decide on career paths and others who want to switch out of the jobs they’re in to do something (anything?) different. They often say I’m lucky I knew what I wanted to do. Not so! It was a happy accident.
I do love the way life evolves and moves and how often you can see a path through the journey, without quite realizing it was a journey. I started out as a school teacher, teaching mathematics, which evolved into teaching in a computer software company which evolved into writing training courses in the company, and evolved and evolved. Alongside that, I was taking photographs and wanted to frame them, so I learned to frame. Framing for a living was never the plan.
I love framing because the framing community is warm, welcoming and generous with their knowledge. The work varies from day to day, the people I meet are interesting and bring different challenges, different pieces to frame and different stories to tell.
I love to teach framing too – as someone recently said, the materials are interesting and a day in the workshop can move from paper to colours, to mountboards and then wood and glass, and then types of glass and the impact it has on a piece of art. It’s not all plain sailing; this month I have framed three of the biggest pieces I have ever framed and 2 of the smallest! I love working with glass and cut glass to size with ease and confidence, but I broke the biggest piece of glass I’ve ever worked with and I dropped some scrap on a concrete floor recently – the mess was pretty spectacular. So things don’t always go to plan. They shouldn’t always go to plan. If we don’t make mistakes we’ll never learn. A framing friend of mine said based on that idea – “I’m learning so much”.
Now I’m not suggesting we all become picture framers, but I do suggest finding a framer near you and take in a picture and get it framed, take something you’ve been meaning to have framed, and spend some time with there – they should have time for you – and get it framed. Get to know your framer, let them get to know you, whether you like bold colours or gentle hues, whether your house is dramatic with shades of blacks and white, or a flourish of colour. Better still, if life is getting too busy and you’ve no time to think, find a framing workshop and spend a day framing things yourself. It’ll be a mental holiday. Let life take you on that unexpected journey!
It’s January 2020! I’m not quite sure how that happened or if I ever thought that a hobby I started back in 2005 would become a business and that I’d enjoy it quite as much as I do.
January: the month when many of us try to get fit or eat less or meditate more or plan to clear out the clutter. I’ve not been one for resolutions in the past and I’ve not yet written any down for this year, but I did find clearing the clutter from my study last week really good fun. I now have space to sit and have tea and I found a few special, and beautiful cards that I’d like to frame.
As you sort through things this month and clear out bits and pieces or even look at what’s hanging on your walls, have a thought about framing something. I think framing a piece is all about making memories last… a frame holds a moment in your life. Perhaps the more obvious examples are family portraits or events; birthdays, graduations, weddings, and typically these are photographs. Quite often we tend to think about framing a piece of art, a painting or print. Perhaps less obvious is framing the first pair of shoes a child has worn, a cross-stitch you worked on years ago, or a mask you bought on holiday, or even a tea towel from some far off country?
Each of the images below is important to someone. They tell a story about an event – a holiday somewhere, a hobby or a passion.
I have a piece of art I made with a friend years ago. I framed it before I was even a framer! It’s a bit rough and ready, but I love it. It reminds of the day I made it with a special friend many years ago. What will you get framed this year? What memories would you like to cherish on your wall?
It occurs to me that given my past, I should have written more than one blog entry between “Welcome to 2017!” and today, early March 2019. This is especially true given that my ‘previous life’ was all about writing blogs and keeping my customers informed. My only excuse is that as much as I have wanted to write (I do love the writing) and keep you informed, some of the delays in this post is that I am not quite sure who my customer is. (Gasps of shock, I hear, from all those in business who say it’s important to know exactly who your customer is)
Let me tell you why.
I have such a lovely mix and variety of customers and their requests are just as varied. For example, since January these have been a few of my customers…(you may recognize yourself described here or realise that you could easily be listed here)
On the teaching side, I have taught the following …
- a client who comes once a year for a workshop. Each year she contacts me with a new project or idea and we spend the day working on that new skill. This year we donned aprons and I showed her how to paint and finish the frames she made to her specification. I’m looking forward to next year!
- a client who has done the basics and wanted to revisit them, with a view to becoming a framer. Actually, there have been a few of these over the years and a few since the start of the year. One who is tentatively exploring the idea of starting framing as a business, one who is methodically increasing her skill set, and one who bought the professional tools, jumped in at the deep end and who spent a few days with me, getting to know the tools. I’m looking forward to seeing him back to learn more.
- a client who has completed quite a few framing workshops and who, over the years, has wanted to add very specific skills to his repertoire. This year he booked two consecutive days and we worked on stretching canvases, lacing fabrics, and making a box frame.
- two friends, who have been friends forever, but rarely see each other. For them, a one-day framing workshop is a lovely opportunity to spend a day together, have fun, learn something new and take home something they have made from scratch.
- a mother and son duo who wanted to learn to frame silk scarves – I think we’re all still learning that one. Silk is not easy to work with and silk scarves can be a challenge.
- a morning workshop, which was a gift for a friend who has a special achievement. What a wonderful encouragement from a friend. As if she said, “Go and frame your medal, photograph, or certificate – be proud of your achievement and cherish that memory”.
- an introduction to framing workshop as a surprise gift for a husband to spend the day learning something new.
When it comes to framing, the list of items that framers face is always long. You can look at any framing website and they’ll tell you the list of items and memorabilia that they are happy to frame. It really is interesting, and worth noting that aside from the photographs and paintings that many of us frame, we also frame quite a few pieces that are unusual. Since January, items that I have framed include the following:
- a very old, faded, and slightly damaged but dearly loved poster, which has traveled the world, but needed the glass replacing and a little TLC on the old frame to revive it
- an extra-large frame for the mirror and, in contrast, the very small frame, for a World War II medallion
- a cross stitch and a piece of fabric art that needed to be float framed
- a fire screen which is home to a very old needlepoint and which needed glass replacing
- a shopping bag from a market
- replacing the frame when the original frame didn’t quite work for them
- and there were canvases that needed stretching and paintings that needed framing…
I think I mentioned in my last post back in 2017, that I love my job. I still do.
Are you my customer? I hope so. I’m not committing to writing another blog any time soon, but if I do, I plan to write about some of the projects I work on and if you’re learning to frame, maybe the articles will be of help. If you’re not learning to frame, maybe there is that piece in the attic you’ve been meaning to get framed and never got around to. Just like my customer who found an old water colour when she was sorting out things and it turned out to be quite valuable. We have framed it with care.
It’s January 2017! Apart from stating the obvious, that yet another new year has rolled in, I’m writing to thank my customers and friends for a great year in 2016.
I have a friend who often says “I’m blessed; I like my job”. It’s not something you often hear.
Many have to fight the grind of getting into the city, with rail strikes, tube strikes, poor weather conditions or sheer volume of people on the journey, that’s London for you!
I love my job, because it’s a whole new experience – every day! The reason? I meet new people and see different artwork or am asked to frame something new and unusual each day. Every piece that is brought in is special to that person, either because it’s a recollection of a holiday or a person or an experience, or it’s a gift or it’s going to be sold.
Whatever the reason, the person and the artwork are linked and I have the privilege of sharing that experience while I hear the story and frame the piece. Isn’t that a treat? So this is a thank you to all of you who brought your art to me for framing and also to those who chose to spend a day (or more) on a training workshop with me in my space. Thank you.
If you’ve not yet been, please call and make an appointment to pop in and visit the workshop. I look forward to meeting you. Have a great 2017.
Monday, 25 May 2015, the HANDS Charity Fair was held on Twickenham Green. The organisers offer a few places to local crafters and so River Crane Framing made its debut visit. We thoroughly enjoyed the day and hope it’s the first of many with HANDS. I was interested in meeting locals and for them to know about us, so I framed a few blackboards and mirrors. The fair attracts a lot of local families (if the weather is good), so I thought a few blackboards and a little chalk might be fun, and it was! The kids loved to get down and dusty!
I teach framing to hobby framers and as introductory sessions for those interested in taking framing further. I have now started 1-1 sessions in my workshop, which I have enjoyed and have had great feedback for. We spent the day chatting with folk who stopped by to find out more about what’s on offer. It was a lovely day, we met lovely people and the blackboards were used and used and used! One of my hand finished pieces was bought to be a part of a wedding! How’s that for a fun day out.
If you’d like to know more, why not drop me a line or call and book yourself onto a workshop.
Why Conservation Framing?
What is conservation framing? Have you ever asked your local framer about different levels of framing? When do you ask a framer to use conservation techniques? The answer generally is when a piece of art has value and you want the framing to protect and preserve the art for a long time. That brings us to the more subtle point; when does a piece have value? Is it price, so there’s a monetary value involved? Is it unique – one of a kind – or perhaps a limited edition? Is it personal, something handmade, special only to the receiver? When it comes to framing, it can be all of these.
Memories are made of this
I have finally framed an etching that I bought in Venice a few years back. The piece of art is hand printed and it’s a limited edition, so has a certain monetary value, but more than this, it’s special to me, because I bought it in Venice, from the artist near St Mark’s Square, on a great holiday. So as I worked on framing it, and now as I look at it, I’m transported back to the holiday, to Venice and the trip. This is true of much of the art we buy or are given; while there may be a large or small monetary value, there is a personal aspect that can be so much more, and so it’s important to take care when framing it, as that can enhance or detract from the piece. Chat to your local framer. Tell them about the piece, tell them who it’s for and where it’s likely to hang. All this can influence how it’s framed.
Planning a Conservation Piece
The first image shown above is the piece of art unmounted and unframed. It’s an etching and aquatint (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquatint) by Venetian artist, Ugo Baracco. I wanted to use conservation framing techniques and materials so that the work will be protected in its current state for years to come. Also, if the etching is reframed at a later date, anything I have done can be reversed.
In deciding on the mount and the frame I didn’t want to add too much clutter, but I did want something a little different and opted for not having a standard black frame. I also like a double mount, as the extra layer adds a depth and the extra mount can give a good edge of colour. However in this instance I used a single mount, with a V-Groove running close to the artwork. I think it adds interest, without a fussiness. I also left the white margin, as this is signed and includes the limited edition details.
For conservation purposes, the mount boards used are conservation grade and the print is hinged to the under mount using gummed conservation tape. Gummed tape is easier to remove than self adhesive tape, so any work done is easily reversed allowing a framer to undo the lot, without damaging the art, in the future.
Working with Glass
Glass is a whole other discussion, and for a conservation piece you want to use the highest UV protection you can afford, to reduce the impact of UV light on the work causing it to fade.
Creating a Sealed Bundle
The final step I like to do is wrap the mounted work, together with the glass and a barrier board, securing them together using conservation tape. In the image on the left, the fine white line is the tape wrapping the bundle. This is not necessarily required for a conservation piece, though some framers insist on it. I like to tape the bundle for a few reasons. The first is that once I have cleaned the glass, it’s great to wrap the bundle and seal it, thus ensuring no bits get in while I’m securing the frame. It’s also easier to work with. Once wrapped, I can drop the whole bundle in the frame and finish it off.
Finishing it off
The last step is the back! You may be surprised to know that most of my clients look at the back (often first!) I think it’s a natural instinct to turn something over, so it’s good to have a neat finish. Framers use different tapes to seal the back of a framed piece. For conservation work, I used gummed tape and finish with a paper backing. As described above, the gummed tape is easy to remove; just wet the tape and it’ll lift off. Then to seal the deal, I add a paper backing, which gives a clean neat finish.
Looking for a gift for Christmas? Why not find a special picture, a photograph from a recent holiday or a picture that carries a special meaning and frame it! The next framing class is in Kew, a walk down the road from Kew Gardens station. The weekend is split into two separate days, so come for one or both days. On Sat 8th, we’ll do the basics of framing, starting from scratch, and you’ll leave with that special piece framed – perfect for a special gift. On the second day, we focus on mounts, discussing colours and practise some of the different ways of mounting an image. If you’re not that keen on framing yourself, then why not buy a day of framing as a gift instead?
It’s all good fun and everyone who attends leaves with a sense of satisfaction and that great feeling of having achieved something.
The new framing workshops schedule is available on the DIY site, so if none of this year’s dates work for you, get onto it now and book for next year. Don’t be fooled by the availability numbers on the DIY site, drop me a line or give me a call or call DIY Framing directly to find out about availability. I’m teaching in Cambridge in September and there are definitely a few spots available on that, so if you’ve been considering a weekend framing course, then get on it!
The last two courses I taught were in Norwich and then in Brighton, both of whichere fun, pretty focused work for the weekends and all those attending went away with great pieces. This is the room in in Hurstpierpoint near Brighton, set up and ready for a small group for the mount cutting day.
I think people are generally surprised at how much is involved in framing a piece of art. They’re almost always surprised and delighted at the results and amazed at how it’s a pretty busy two days and yet they do leave with a selection of pieces.
After a recent courses, a participant wrote to me with the following:
I enjoy the two days training, why not find a course near you and try it?
Last weekend I was teaching the Basics of Framing and Mount Decoration in Devon near Exeter – this was the view from my “classroom” in the village hall, so even though we were inside all weekend, the outlook was inspiring, peaceful and perfect for reviving a city soul!
Framing and Choices
When we do the Basics of Framing, we ask the students to bring along an image no bigger than an A4 page. This means that they have a reasonable size piece of artwork to work with, nether too big nor too small, and the glass, cutting equipment and other stock we bring is all suitable. Typically the class is made up of a mix of photographers and artists, and so the range of media varies, providing a lot of interest.
There is much to consider when framing your art including, quite obviously, the frame itself and the mount board. The range of choice available in these alone can leave you baffled for some time, so for the introductory course we do away with choice, and stick to teaching the basics. Even so there are decisions to be made, and the one I’m interested in today is the aperture.
Managing the Aperture
The aperture is that part of the image that you’ll see once you have framed the picture. You may think that you want to see all of the picture and for the most part this is true, but you still need to have a small amount of the image under the mount, so that it doesn’t fall through the aperture. Generally we recommend you measure 5mm less than the image to establish the aperture size.
Here’s where it’s interesting… if you take a standard size photograph or image to buy a standard size frame, you don’t get much flexibility on what you want to show or hide. When you’re making your own frames, you have complete control. What’s to stop you creating a square aperture for an A4 size image?
Think outside the box and never cut the artwork!
What should you do if the image is skew or too big? The important thing is that you should never cut the artwork. I advise this even if it’s your own and it’s a photograph that you can get reprinted. It’s a good habit to get into. This question regularly comes up in class and students are keen to trim off the bits they don’t like. This past weekend one of my students had a fab black and white photograph, with a few bits he wasn’t so keen on and having settled on an aperture, wanted to know if he could cut off the rest. We looked at the depth of the border and I showed him that by playing with the aperture size he could hide some of the image he felt was distracting without having to trim anything. By keeping it intact, he was able to change his mind about what he wanted to expose and finally settled on a square aperture with a wide border and the result was a much more powerful piece of work.
So don’t be limited by what you can get off the shelf, play with the space and image, and then make a frame to fit the results.