Friday, September 18, 2009

Down to the wire

As I have said before I am a super left brainer. So I am fond of jigs and story poles and measuring sticks. I find the position for the hole I will use for the screw eye or D ring by measuring with what ever I have handy that's about the right size,. Here I am using a wire cutters. I will do the same thing on the other side. I want that hole about a third the way down from the top. I make a nice hole with my awl. I just push it by hand down into the frame, you don't need to hit it with a hammer! You are going to either screw the D ring to the frame with this hole or turn a screw eye into it. Both go much more easily if you mark, and then start the hole with an awl.

You can see that I am working on my fitting table with the frame face down onto the mattress pad I have there to protect its front. I always put the picture on the table with its top towards me. If I don't, sometimes I will put the wire on, and then when I turn the picture over the wire is across the bottom and not the top of the frame. I make a point of having protocols for a lot of things, if I always do them the same way, and in the same order I screw them up less often.

There is the little D Ring , but you could use a screw eye too. That works just as well. Both D rings and srew eyes come in a variety of different sizes for different weights of paintings.
Here is the address of United, a company that sells D rings and about a zillion other items for the framing industry. I haven't placed an order with them in a long time. They sell things in large quantitys. It takes a while to go through a thousand D rings.

Here are a couple of spools of picture wire. The one in front is a plastic coated medium weight wire. The spool in back holds a braided wire, that is rated for a heavier painting. I got that from Jerrys Artrarama. You have to be careful with picture wire, it is easy to cut or poke your fingers with the stuff. I have done that many times and then bled on the frame.

Pull the wire through the ring or screw eye. Now WATCH CLOSELY! the next part is important.

You need to loop the wire and send it through the screw eye a second time! This will keep it from slipping. Here is another shot of that.

Pull it tight, and then you are on to the next step.Twist about 6 inches of wire around the the hanging wire like so.
Now go to the other side and repeat the process. From now on you will carry the painting by the wire as much as you can. Every time you put your acid laden thumb on the front and center of the top rail of a frame, you wear away a little more of the finish. Try to keep your hands off the fronts of your frames. Let the interns at the galleries ruin em.


Richard J. Luschek II said...

I do the same thing for the punching the hole. On a smaller frame, I have a longer Awl whose length is about a third, so I measure with its length, tilt it up and push.
I will add that when I am doing this, if anyone is around, I hold up my Awl and say in a very cute voice, "Awwwwww."
It is hilarious every time. said...

Hi Stapleton,
Well the scene is set for the South End Open Studios. It being Rosh Hashanah will dapen things down a bit. But I'll let you know what the buying energy is like or not. the old days I'd be more likely dumped in the Boston harbor but you're right..these days it's the Charles. A teacher of mine, Barney(Barnet) Rubenstien, had his art dumped there after it was stolen a long time ago. Very sad.

Thanks for these technical posts. It's always good to review good practices.

Vikki Bouffard said...

Just a comment from an artist/framer--when I make the loop around the d-ring, I put the loose end through the loop and pull it up to the d-ring into a small "knot". Then I wrap the loose end around the wire and snug it up to the "knot". A really neat, secure way to string your wire.

I also stay away from screw eyes in general because many people will hang a picture with only one hook when they really need two, and that puts a great deal of stress on the screw eye and they tend to pull out. Just my preference, but you might like to try that method with the wire. Thanks for a great blog.

Bob Carter said...

I'm amused to realize I do this in exactly the same way, even down to the way you wrap the wire. I've seen other, more complicated systems, but can't convince myself they're worth learning. On stabbing yourself with picture wire, I've noticed that the bare wire starts to extend beyond the plastic coating as a result of the wrapping. I now routinely snip off that protruding bit of wire, so that the ends of the wire and coating are flush, and now I'm not stabbing myself as often.

Diane Greene said...

Also, I say from my position of authority as a frame-shop worker in my distant youth, after you wrap the excess wire, just take a few inches of masking tape and wrap the bare-end wire to the hanging wire. No more pokey wires.

Gregory Becker said...

Stape, you crack me up. Now I am going to be looking for wear marks on frames with interns in mind.
Good post.

Stapleton Kearns said...

It is important that you give your awl....

Stapleton Kearns said...

Good luck with your open studios. The weather is promising I think that's good. Buy crackers and Brie. Wear all black. Smoke clove cigarettes and speak pig Latin!

Stapleton Kearns said...


That's a great thing to do. But its best in the retail world when you are handing the frame to someone who is going to leave it alone. I am always taking things in and out of the frames and sometimes I need to make that wire longer so I can adjust the painting without putting another hole in the, wall. If I knot it, then I need to use a tool to open it up.

Stapleton Kearns said...

After I get the thing "strung" I can avoid getting poked it is durin g the process that I receive the injuries.

Stapleton Kearns said...

That sounds like a good fix, but again it makes it harder to disassemble in a hurry.

Stapleton Kearns said...

You think I am joking I know. Interns are the greatest single source of frame damage. They sometimes stick cards bearing prices to the fronts of $500.00, 23K gold frames with Scotch tape.
None are named Monica I can assure you of that.................Stape