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A Framing Philosophy

What’s in a frame?  At least a couple of hours work and several decisions.  What species of wood, how thick, how wide, what finish?  I tend to keep it simple when I frame artwork, usually not deviating from a basic rectangular profile.  I like a width of about 1.25 to 1.75 inches and a thickness of not more than an inch.  I’ve seen a lot of art framed with very ornate and decorative molding, but I’ve never been inclined to it myself.  Many frames seem to be an attempt to compensate for artwork that is lacking in aesthetic appeal.  Frames help us understand the art we encounter, they prepare us for the coming experience.

I like to think of my frames and matting as a way to transition from the walls to the artwork.  They isolate the artwork and provide a context in which it can be viewed with minimal distraction.  Much like TV or a movie theater screen, one is invited to suspend disbelief and entertain the possibility of a different world, where the imaginary or illusory becomes tangible.  I’m glad to have my frames appreciated for the craftsmanship as well as the natural beauty of the wood that has been uncovered, but I don’t want them to be the focus.  They serve a supporting purpose and should be appreciated primarily as a means of separating the artwork from our everyday routines.  They are an invitation to the place where words stop and images begin to have expressive content.



Here is the frame above with finish, as well as another frame with a narrower profile.  The finish is Formby’s Tung Oil, Low Gloss.

Categories: Uncategorized
Posted by John Speier on May 6, 2012
1 Comment Post a comment
  1. 05/22/2012

    For as long as I’ve known you I’ve never known that you even had a philosophy behind the frames that you make. You describe it so beautifully, I almost feel bad for having ever liked ornate frames! I think you’re on to something with the idea of frames compensating for lacking artwork. I’d love to hear more about the reasons behind your approach to your exceptional art.


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