Spotlight Feature: Craftbelly Frames

Craftbelly frames create interest when mixed in with other styles on a collage wall.

Craftbelly frames create interest when mixed in with other styles on a collage wall.

A picture frame is a wonderful expression of individuality. We choose frame styles that either speak to the subject being framed or call to us and our sense of self. This month we feature a talented Chicago artist who specializes in paper-wrapped frames that are stunning and unique. Meet Lizzie Greco, the creator of Craftbelly Frames.

Made by hand with care in Chicago.

Made by hand with care in Chicago.

Using fine papers carefully selected for their quality and design, Lizzie meticulously wraps her wooden frames and finishes them with non-toxic sealant, preserving the patterns for years to come. Her materials are imported from countries all around the world, where the art of paper-making thrives. All of this hard work yields gorgeous results. 

Celebrate local artists!

Celebrate local artists!

For her next project, Lizzie is making the leap into creating and implementing her own original designs, printed right here in Chicago. We are proud to show our support for a rising local artist and we encourage you to do so too. Learn more by visiting craftbelly.com.

A few of Lizzie's original creations.

A few of Lizzie's original creations.

Original printed designs wrapped on quality wood frames.

Original printed designs wrapped on quality wood frames.

If you are looking for frames that speak to the creative spirit with a touch of whimsy, stop by our showroom and experience Craftbelly frames! 

History in Design: flatmade Posters.

History in Design: flatmade Posters.

If you happen to stroll through our showroom, you will see a few of these posters. Perhaps you will be inspired just as John-Paul was when he came across his first Massey print at the Modern Museum of Art, chicago has a great lake. John-Paul was so captivated by the poster that he determined to track one down for himself. When he couldn't obtain one, he had an even better idea—he would reprint them!

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Crash Course in Digital Imaging

How to get those images off the computer and onto the wall!

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The first step in digital imaging is remarkably easy, intuitive, and fun -- taking the pictures! Modern digital cameras allow you to see the image immediately and to store hundreds, sometimes thousands, of photos on one memory card, so you get to take as many shots as you want!

After sorting through the multitude and deciding on the few (or perhaps not so few) you like best, the next step is to have those pictures printed for framing and photo albums.

Did you know we offer high quality printing services? Here are some things to know about digital imaging.

First, some relevant terminology: 

- Pixel: the smallest visible unit of what makes up a digital image (essentially a tiny square of color).
- Pixel Dimensions: the number of pixels along the horizontal and vertical sides of your digital image (expressed as width x height: 1200 x 1800).
- Resolution: the clarity of an image, related to how many pixels are displayed per inch, defined in terms of ppi.
- PPI: pixels per inch. This is how many pixels are in each inch of the image as seen on the computer screen.

How do these relate to each other? 

The resolution of an image is directly affected by the ppi. The more pixels you can cram into an inch of computer screen, the clearer and crisper the image will be on the screen – and the sharper the image will be once printed. 

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What does this mean? 

These elements determine how large you can have your image printed without losing clarity. For optimum sharpness, we recommend printing from a 300ppi file. For example, if you have a digital image that is 1200 X 1800 pixels, at 300ppi, you’d end up with a photo that is 4 x 6 inches.

You can probably see the math there: 1,200 / 300 = 4 and 1,800 / 300 = 6.  

Since the pixel dimensions remain constant, that same image at a different size would yield a different resolution. At 6 x 9 inches, it would be only 200ppi, which can make for a very blurry image when printed. 

Don't worry. We can help you figure all this out. If you're unsure what the size of your digital image is, email it to us or come by with it on a disc, flash drive, or memory card. We are more than happy to assist! 

The main thing to take away from this is that not all digital images are going to work blown up to a large size. It is possible, of course, to print any image at any size, but once you drop much below that sweet spot of 300dpi, the clarity also starts to drop, and your image can start to look grainy or pixelated. The largest dimension we can print here at AFS is 44 inches (on the short side), which would require a digital image 13,200 pixels wide for optimum clarity.

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Another thing to keep in mind, when trying to decide what size you’d like to print your images, is whether or not you need them to be a “standard” size. Standard sizes are the ones you will easily find ready-made frames and photo albums for, such as 4x6, 5x7, 8x10, etc. Many digital images will already be a proportion that lends itself to standard sizes, but those that aren’t may be cropped to achieve the same result.

Once you know which images you're printing, and how large they'll be, the final decision is the sort of surface you’d like them printed on. There are different options – from glossy to matte to canvas paper. Feel free to stop by our showroom any time to look at some samples like those below:

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Our high quality printing only takes a few days and combined with our lightning fast one-week turnaround on framing, you can have your favorite images off the computer and onto your wall in as little as ten days (or quicker if you need it!).

All this talk of pixels and printing can be a bit confusing. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions! We're here to help!

Winning Strategies for Framing Sports Items

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Most of us have a favorite sport and like to show our support by collecting special items, be it a signed jersey, a memorable photograph, or a ticket stub. The important thing is that it means something to you, and after you've taken the time to collect an item, your next decision is how to display it.

We have a lot of experience framing sports memorabilia, and below are a few of the things we've learned.

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1. Jersey Framing.

Framed sports jerseys are a stunning showpiece on a wall, and are a great way to share your passion for a team or player. The first thing you need to decide is front or back, and then consider the best way to arrange the sleeves (folded back out of sight, or hanging straight, for example). How much of the jersey do you want to see -- the entire thing, or should it be folded down to only reveal a certain portion? With these decisions made, often jerseys are then sewn into place on the mat board of your choice, but we also offer what we call our Jersey Special, which works for most jerseys and provides a sleek, stylish option that's kind to your bank account. Click to learn more.

2. Color and Design.

Frames and mats come in an incredibly vast array of colors and styles, which allow you to really play with the design elements. Do you want mats that exactly match the team colors, or a textured mat in linen, silk, or suede? What about a wooden frame that looks like it's made from the same material as the baseball bat, or a leather-wrapped frame that compliments the glove or the ball? The possibilities are endless!

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3. Protect and Preserve.

Many sports memorabilia items are one of a kind and irreplaceable, not to mention valuable! We always recommend that you use UV-glass/plexiglass as well as non-acidic materials on your treasured pieces, to keep them looking pristine for decades to come. We have years of experience handling delicate and meaningful keepsakes.


4. Other Elements.

There are more sports objects available than this humble framer can even think of! Jerseys, signed game balls, photos, pennants, and ticket stubs may be the first things that spring to mind, but it's possible to frame just about anything! If it means something to you, then it is worth framing. If you have multiple items related to the same player or team (or maybe you just want to have all your small sports objects in one frame) it's possible to collage them together. Some of the most visually interesting and creative designs come from these sorts of multi-item projects, so don't be shy! 

If you have further questions about framing sports memorabilia, or framing questions in general, please feel free to contact us. We are ready and willing to help!