Picture Frame Process

I doubt that I would get much of an argument if I said: “A beautiful painting deserves and needs a beautiful frame to complement it.”  There are mass produced, big box store frames and at the other end of the spectrum we find frames that cost several thousand dollars.  Then, if I said: “The term starving artist is really quite valid”, again; probably won’t get too much of an argument on that either!  When I began framing the majority of my frame work has been done for my wife, Diane Eugster and her work has been well received in various shows and successfully sold at her gallery.  Since moving to Phoenix in 2016 and having my own shop I have begun making frames for a number of artists that live in this area.

With all of that being said, here’s where I want to fit in, I’ve coined a phrase boutique frame maker.  In other words, I’d like to fill that gap between the less than $100.00 imported frame from the big box stores and the $1,000.00+ frame from the high end specialty shops.  Depending on the size and complexity my goal is to keep your costs for a frame as low as possible, I know what it’s like to be that starving artist!  My main motivation is meeting the challenge of what you need and the enjoyment the process brings me.  The first step to frame making is to find the rough molding to base the frame on.  There aren’t any suppliers here in Phoenix but there is Foster Planing Mills in Southern California who have an extensive catalog of moldings.  Of course with them shipping charges will add up.  Another option available to you is for me to create your molding profile either from Basswood so it can be gilded or else from hardwoods such as Cherry, Walnut, Oak, etc.

WoodworksbyJohn Profile

Locally we have an mill called Barger Moulding.  To save the cost of having molding shipped, I designed a custom profile and had them mill it for me.  It’s roughly 4″ wide x 1 1/4″ thick and will accommodate either a standard stretched canvas or panel.  This design gives me an area for carving which really enhances a frame.  This is the basis for most of my frames but I also make one of a kind frames using various hand tools and cutters.  Look through my portfolio or do a search on this website using picture frames as criteria.  Frames are either gilded and toned to complement your painting.  Yet another option for you is to make solid wood frames referred to as Mission or Craftsman style that feature open joinery and pegged construction.  With my experience in building furniture I’m up for almost any challenge so if you specific projects or ideas do contact me.

If you look at most frames you’ll find that the miters in the corners will generally be open and if you flip it over you’ll see V-shaped nails, that is all that’s holding that frame together!  If the miters aren’t exact the joint will never stay together — period.  I’ve made a jig for my tablesaw to cut accurate miters and haven’t had joint failures of any kind, that jig is shown at the right.  Once all four pieces are cut to length the next step is to join them together.  I use what’s referred to as a biscuit joint.  As you can see in the picture on the left, a slot is cut into the ends of each member for the “biscuit”.  Basically this is a piece of compressed wood that will expand into the slot after the glue is applied.  All of my frames are joined this way then securely clamped overnight.

Once the glue has completely cured it’s time for the finish work.  You can check out my portfolio page or search through the link I gave earlier for picture frames for ideas.  Many times a client will contact me and either show or send images of the design they have in mind.  My goal is to find an element or mood in your painting that can be hand carved onto the frame to marry both of them together.  To accomplish that here is a brief slideshow that illustrates that process, the design was chosen to complement the braids on the girl in the painting.

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If the idea of having a custom crafted frame to complement your painting appeals to you then by all means, use the contact form and let me know what you have in mind.