Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What you don't see...

Custom framing is not an exact science, but things seem to go together best when you're careful. When you pick up a completed custom framed piece, aside from being aesthetically pleasing, it should be free of dust under the glass, corners should be pretty seamless, and the frame should be free of dings or bumps. What you don't see are the countless openings and closings to get that last speck of dust out, care to keep the frame from being bumped by other frames in the process, and time taken to doctor the corners to make them perfect. In the course of working on your framing, your framer may have to solve many problems to assure your satisfaction. Here is a sample of what happens in the process of "framing:"
  • Your framer pulls uncut moulding to make your frame. He (since your author is a he, I'll keep it simple and say "he") inspects it for flaws and other shop dings, cuts the frame and sets it on the nailing table.
  • Next, he prepares the corners for joining, inspects it again, joins the corners and hangs it for finishing. So, in this process, there are 3 opportunities for damage.
  • Next, he pulls matboard, inspects it for damage, cuts the mat opening to fit your artwork, cleans the bevel and inspects it for bad cuts, mounts your artwork in the mat and sets it aside for finishing. In the mat cutting process, there are in essence about 3 chances to damage a mat, although there are countless times when a mat can be damaged (e.g. a matboard cut on your finger is highly painful and blood does not come out of a mat).
  • Next, after inspecting it, he cuts the glass and puts the frame "package" into the frame. Glass either fits or it does not. If it does not, you cut another. It's a rare instance that you can cut just a little off a piece of glass. On one project, I went through an entire box of 4 sheets of glass before I succeeded in cutting one that fit the frame.
  • Now, the glass fits, blow out dust from the glass and mat, drop in the matted piece, pop in a couple of staples and inspect for dust and particles. If there are particles, you pull the staples, blow out the dust, staple again and inspect it again. If there are no dust particles, you proceed to the fully stapling part. If there is dust, you open it and blow it out again (I've found if you don't get the dust out in the first 2 tries, because of Murphy's Law, you can count on 4 or 5 tries).
  • Dust is out and you staple up the back, paper it, wire it, apply your label and bumpons in the corners. Rarely, are there failings in this part of the process.
  • Now, your framer inspects the corners and uses a corner filler to smooth out the seams where the corners come together.
  • Finally, he calls you to tell you it's time to pick up your work, puts it in a bin and waits for you to come get your masterpiece.
There you have a small sampling of the process of a framing project. As your framer, it's our job to measure accurately, cut accurately, treat your artwork with care and respect, and inspect, inspect, inspect.

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