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.


Doug Runyan said...

Any particular brands of frames that you prefer -- both expensive and reasonably priced? I like Omega and the Plein Air Frames Company (from California). Both good looking and not too pricey. I can get Omega from a local source but have to order the others. Not always a very fast turnaround! Love the blog -- been silently reading and enjoying it for more than a year.

T Arthur Smith said...

Thank you Stape!

Lucy said...

I think no frames is better than bad frames, and too many framers who have no aesthetic at all are busy "picking up"
Some weird color in the painting and "matching it" for the frame.
I've seen many a good exhibit where the same frame was on all the pieces and lent a certain consistency to the show. . I once had a gallery who did all this for me...oh the glory days!! said...

I do not use frames but I never object to a customer who wants or needs to frame a piece. The work is hanging in their home and they are entitled to have what they want on the walls.

I don't have to deal with "dinged up" frames BUT the downside is that I deal with dinged up paintings (mostly done in gallery shows).

Poppy Balser said...


Happy fourth of July! I hope that you are enjoying a much deserved holiday after all that you have been working on lately.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Doug Runyan;
I don't really recommend framing suppliers other than PS art in Pawtucket Rhode Island and Paul Goodnow.

Stapleton Kearns said...

T Arthur Smith;
You are welcome.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Yeah I know those guys. I don't go to moulding shops.

Stapleton Kearns said... ;
I have to use frames. The galleries I am in insist on it and I don't like to show my paintings without them.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Poppy Balser;
Thank you Poppy,. Tonight's post will show you my 4th.

finnsheep said...

Thank you for your blog! You have taught me a whole lot. I love your painting and am sure you could have equally well made your living as a writer.