Sunday, July 3, 2011
Interchangeable parts framing.
I was asked in the comments: how can you order the frames before the paintings are even made? How do you know what will match them?
I was writing to the lovely Mrs. Xanthippe Cleavage-Heaver about organizing a show. I suggested ordering the frames way up front in two sizes and all the same profile (shape) and finish. Incidentally I have written about buying framing before. I have written a lot about this sort of thing and those entries are labeled "The art business waltz", if you search the blog for those you will find the text. If I were writing a book I could assume you had read all the previous chapters on your way to this one and our conversation would be cumulative. In a blog you-all parachute in anywhere you damn well please.
I produce to many pictures to have a different dedicated frame for each on. I have to be able to trade paintings in and out of my frame as I take them from one gallery to another, sell one without a frame or lend one to an institution where they will be handled by clumsy intern children. For a show with a clear theme "Bridges along the Hudson" Xanthippe has a very reasonable excuse to use only a single frame design. It will tie the show together as a presentation.
If you have only the occasional picture to frame, perhaps up to a ten or more tuning each frame to each picture and leaving that picture always in that particular frame could work. But I make a lot of paintings. I need to know in fact, before I start a 16 by 20 that I have a frame that size. I don't want to sit on it until I do, I may want to show or sell it. I want that inventory working for me, not waiting for a frame in my studio. I am also likely to trade it into an existing frame from a picture that is returning from a gallery or show. I really need two frames for it, one for high end galleries whose handling I trust, and another to be damaged by interns.
There are many frames that will go on most paintings. Black frames or real gold frames go on most paintings. I try to have several styles of frame around to choose from, so I limit the sizes I paint to about six.
Title plates, those brass or wooden tags that sit on the bottom rail of the frame, are a big problem. If the picture doesn't sell I can't use the frame on a newer piece. I also can't cannibalize the frame for another painting if I suddenly need that size. If you take title plate off, you have two holes and a scar on the finish waiting for you behind it, that means you have to get a new title plate made. And you could have to do that again too, if you use the frame on something else. Why even be alive?
I might also mention that picture frames are cheaper if you buy a number at the same time. The price of frames is negotiated and when you tell a framer you nee 3600 dollars worth of frames you have a right to expect some deference on the always delicate matter of price.