Sometimes, because we come to the gallery 5 days a week, we tend to take our picture frame collection for granted. This collection is like a dear old friend who is always there for you but whose amazing nature can sadly be overlooked because of familiarity. Then one day something happens to make you step back; in this moment of clarity, you actually see what you have in this friend. That’s what happened recently with our frame collection.
We decided to have a bit of painting done in the frame design room, and as we were removing the picture frame samples to make way for the painters, we found ourselves saying things like, “wow, this frame from Budapest, have you ever noticed the detail in the carving?” or, “check out the color on this acrylic frame. The blue looks like a sapphire.” And so we began to re-value, to re-appreciate the very beautiful frame collection we have carefully curated for so many years. Some of our frames come from American companies; others come from craftspeople, mostly in the US, but not exclusively. Some are slick contemporary frames of poured acrylic; some frames are hand-carved in the centuries old-tradition of woodworkers; some frames are hand-done sgraffito, a craft from the Renaissance. We have reclaimed wood frames from old barns in Vermont and tornado shelters in Oklahoma. Our domestic renewable hardwood picture frames such as hard maple, cherry, walnut and ash are all harvested from sustainable sources. Our welded steel frames, made by a favorite welder in New England, take metal frames to a whole new industrial level of raw beauty.
OK. you get it. We had a moment with our frames. Now, we’d like to share a little about some favorites in our treasured frame collection.
Note: These types of frames are always available for our picture framing services.
Repurposed Wood Picture Frames
We got some new recycled wood frames in and we’re pretty excited about them. They are truly unique; they are beautiful and green. Not green as in color of a shamrock. They are totally repurposed and environmentally safe.
Now, if you’re looking for a wood picture frame that will look just like the sample, these reclaimed wood frames are not for you. They are crafted from the salvaged wood of torn-down barns, old farm sheds, the doors of tornado shelters and abandoned houses. Quite simply, they are stunning.
We find ourselves wanting to touch them.
Each frame is truly individual, and like no other.
Each is crafted from a rescued board. It doesn’t get any more environmentally friendly than that, but what surprises us most, though, is how incredibly beautiful these old frames are. There’s an authenticity to them that one just can’t get from the commercial “rustic barnwood” picture frames you see everywhere.
Some have knot holes; others have a deep rough grain, and some are a rich weathered red. It may seem strange to say about a piece of old wood, but we find these picture frames to be quite elegant in their state of decay.
And, environmentally speaking, what can be more elegant than taking wood from an old barn and giving it a new purpose?
Poured Acrylic Picture Frames
Most picture frames are made of wood or metal. That’s just how it is and how it has been for decades. They can be hand-crafted carved wood frames, or simple North American hardwood frames.
They can be the common poster-type metal frames one sees at all the strip-mall framers or they can be solid welded steel frames. But, when all is said and done, picture frames are usually made from wood or metal.
That is unless it’s one of our stunning poured acrylic picture frames. These custom-made seamless frames are like no others. They are the brainchild of Terry Vineyard from Boise. Terry is part engineer, part computer wizard and part artist, a rare combination, to be sure. He invented these frames with an unparalleled creativity combined with advanced technical skills. They are seamless because each frame has no miter or joinery line at the corners, just smooth acrylic all around the entire frame. It’s one beautiful piece.
The colors and patterns are breathtaking: waves in mercury metallic grey; snow white polka dots on jet black; bubbles in Champagne metallic; There are acrylic frames in fuchsia, French blue, daffodil, eggplant and Old-Glory red, to name just a few of the dazzling hues. But, they are also made in clear or frosted acrylic which is perfect on contemporary art. These sanded clear and frosted acrylic frames ALMOST disappear on a contemporary painting, but in an oh-so subtle way they support the art, letting it be the star.
All the colors and patterns come in flat contemporary profiles as well as in canvas flat frames that hug- but don’t cover-the edge of the painting. Seriously, these frames will bring out the child in you. You will want to play endlessly with all the possible color and pattern combinations. We do! And we credit Terry Vineyard for taking us on a rollicking ride of dazzling colors and shapes. In the 32 years we have run this art business, we have never seen anything like them.
Hand-Carved Wood Picture Frames
Our hand-carved wood frames are among the most treasured picture frames in our collection. Each frame is carefully made by Bob, a woodworker in New York, who individually carves each one to order. There are no miter lines.
These gems are not made from commercial molding that is simply cut and joined at the corners. The raw-wood carving on each picture frame is done one frame at a time. Nothing is mass produced. Some frames are carved as historical replicas of a particular time in history like the Renaissance or Victorian Periods. Other times, the carving is more free form.
Either way, these frames are stunning.
After the carving, Bob applies the finish one layer at a time, often incorporating a layer of gold or silver leaf between the various stains to give an rich depth to the frame. There’s no rushing this finishing process; each layer needs time to cure. It can take Bob up to 2 weeks to complete this step.
Many commercial frames are made to look old. Bob’s frames, made with the care, and dare we say, the love, he puts into each actually look like a family heirloom frame you could find hidden in your grandmother’s attic. Each one is a treasure not just be enjoyed today, but will, without a doubt, become that family heirloom the commercial manufactures vainly try to emulate. After every delivery, Bob, never fails to call; “Did it arrive in good condition? How does the frame look on the art? Can you send me a picture.”
A little bit of Bob goes into each frame. He actually has trouble letting go of them. How sweet is that?
Welded Steel Picture Frames
It’s funny but when collectors first see our welded-steel frames, they always comment on their urban industrial look or their contemporary feel.
And, of course, they are all that. But, in a post-modern world where rules are out the window, our designers have had great success in sometimes shedding the expected type-casting of these frames by using them on a very traditional painting like a landscape.
The juxtaposition of “bucolic old” with “urban new” is quite appealing, not to mention unexpected. But whatever the design application, these frames, made from raw angle or bar steel, never fail to please. They are cut, weld and grind, resulting in edgy finishes that range from sleek contemporary to raw industrial. Sometimes we design a framing using these frames with screws and bolts on the face of the frame. Talk about industrial!
We have had these welded frames in our collection for 20 years, and have designed hundreds of framings with them. Yet,even after all this time, when the framer brings out a finished piece of art from the work shop with a welded frame, we never fail to stop what we’re doing and just look it it with pride.
There’s something about a steel-welded frame. There just is.
Come See Our Collection
These are just a few favorite picture frames in 15th Street Gallery’s frame collection.
Don’t get us started because we could easily triple this blog talking about other frames. And maybe we will… at another time.
For now, thank you for reading about our frames. We have really enjoyed getting reacquainted with our old friends.