DIY Framing: Easy Like Sunday Morning

Seleceted Best Framer in Chicago 2015

Yes! The rumors are true. We have been selected Chicago's Best Custom Frame Shop by Chicago Magazine. They had some very nice things to say about our staff and services. "The skill of its people, combined with their patient advice regardless of your budget and large stock of museum-quality materials, is hard to beat."

This is true any day of the week, but exponentially so on the first Sunday of every month. Have you been to one of our amazing Sunday Outlet Sales before? Here's how it works...

Early bird shoppers getting the best deals on Outlet Sunday.

Early bird shoppers getting the best deals on Outlet Sunday.

The First Sunday Frame Outlet appears like a mirage once a month. We bring over a truckload of random empty frames in all sizes from our warehouse. These are frames that were cut incorrectly, the customer changed something mid-stream or are made from excess material. Some frames may have a few little bumps and bruises, but others are brand new, ripe for the picking and substantially less than full retail. 

Hiram models an amazing olive veneer Italian frame on offer at the Outlet Sale. Normally retailing for $60 per foot, this frame is $75 for the whole thing! What a steal.

Hiram models an amazing olive veneer Italian frame on offer at the Outlet Sale. Normally retailing for $60 per foot, this frame is $75 for the whole thing! What a steal.

The best way to shop the Outlet Sale is to bring in that pile of things you've been meaning to get up on your wall but don't want to have fully custom framed. You can feel like Cinderella when you find that perfect match of frame to art. It doesn't always happen but when it does it's magical and exciting for us all. 

Outlet Sunday magic! I think she found the frame of her dreams! 

Outlet Sunday magic! I think she found the frame of her dreams! 

Once you find the right frame, there are three levels to get the art into the frame.

1. DIY - You take the empty frame home just like Tim Gunn to "make it work".

2. DIY Plus - We outfit the frame with glass, matting and backing. You install the artwork.

3. NO DIY - Take the frame over to our custom framers and they will help select mats and materials to get your art in the frame. All work is done by us and usually ready in a week.

Sometimes you find exactly the size and style that you need. Other times, you could find something larger than your artwork and we can re-size the frame to your required dimensions.

She got lucky and found the purrrrrfect frame for her kitty picture. It's a great match and exactly the right size. An Outlet Day miracle!

She got lucky and found the purrrrrfect frame for her kitty picture. It's a great match and exactly the right size. An Outlet Day miracle!

The sale is always the first Sunday of each month in our Clybourn location only. Each sale is different and we never know ahead of time what kinds of frames will show up. We have a loyal following of "early birds" who are usually here right at 10 am to get the first look.

So get those pictures out of the trunk or out from under the bed. Join us for the next Sunday Frame Outlet. Let's make some framing magic! 

Free Tape Measure! What are you waiting for?!

Free Tape Measure! What are you waiting for?!

Custom Framing For Ninjas

It's a dangerous world we live in and sometimes you need to be able to get to your knives and swords at a moment's notice. Check out this totally custom solution to beautifully display a knife from Thailand in its hand-crafted sheath. 


To create the shadowbox we stacked two frames together and connected them with discreet hinges. 

 

There is a small strong magnet embedded in the opposite sides of the frame to keep the case closed, while also allowing it to open easily.

 

The knife is held in place with two little hardware brackets but lifts right out.

 

This framing technique works well with samurai swords, civil war muskets, Bowie knives, and multiple collectibles. 

Get your antique collectibles out of storage and up on the wall in a framed display case!

Get Your Dream Frame

PRISMA! The stuff dreams are made of... 

Hot pink with midnight blue floral pattern that perfectly matches this artwork - only!

Where else would you be able to find a frame so perfect? It’s from our line of custom acrylic Prisma frames. Our lucky customer now has the only one like it in this whole entire world.

A Prisma can be completely custom ordered in your choice of pattern and color. Each frame is hand-crafted out of one seamless piece of acrylic. There is a unique magic to these frames due to the way light travels through the acrylic material that is unlike any other frame. 46 colors + 19 patterns + 2 finishes + multiple widths + 2 depths + 2 colors of base acrylic equal out to over 1 billion options! You truly can have a one-of-a-kind frame made to complement your artwork.

You can practice creating a Prisma frame for yourself using the on-line visualization software here. Upload an image of your artwork and go to town trying out all the options.

Are you an original one-of-a-kind? Finally get the frame that lets your personality shine! Bring in your art today and meet with one of our fabulous frame designers to view samples and get the amazing frame of your dreams.  

Who Made That Picture Frame?

Ever wonder where our frames come from? Did you know that part of our job is visiting foreign frame makers to bring you the best picture frames in the whole wide world? 

The team is recently returned from our Grand Tour of European manufacturers. We suffered through two long weeks of amazing hospitality, friendship, food, and even more food.  (Remember, we do this for YOU, our customers.)

In Spain, we saw bulls and stuffed ourselves silly with paella. In Italy, we strolled medieval lanes and sipped wine under the Tuscan sun.  But most importantly, we toured nine picture frame manufacturing facilities; each varying in size and level of craftsmanship. In this blog we share with you an insider's look at the amount of craft that goes into making the frame on your wall.

It all starts out with the raw wood - lots and lots of raw wood. These giant stacks are all finger-joined pine grown in Scandinavia and responsibly forested. 

Here’s one of those blocks of finger-joined pine going through a milling machine to be turned into a moulding profile. Special knives and blades are used to create each different profile shape. (Sorry for the shaking at the end!)

Here's the finished stack of the milled profile waiting to be painted and finished.

Each raw piece of wood goes through a machine fitted with lots of wheels specially adjusted to move the shape along the line. This one is getting a coat of glue before a very thin layer of maple wood veneer is applied to the face.

The wheels on the machines come in a variety of sizes and shapes to work with many different kinds of frame profiles. It can take a few hours to set up the machine between operations.

Lengths of moulding are stacked for drying and then moved around the factory between steps and machines on these large carts.

This is a fine example of a compo wheel. The ornate design will be stamped into a layer of wood composition as the wood rolls through the machine.

Some factories are fully automated but others still use some very old school techniques. These are jugs full of gesso and clay bole which will be applied by hand as a foundation before gold leafing. Looks like they’ve been using the same jugs since the Renaissance!

This worker is brushing rabbit skin glue on in small sections before applying gold leaf by hand. She will walk miles and miles each day traveling up and down the sticks of frame moulding.

No machinery in sight. Some of our richest and most special finishes are achieved through many coats of leaf, paint and lacquers - all done completely by hand. These guys have been making frames like this for generations.

Some of the frames we source on our adventures are only found stateside in our Chicago locations. Come in and see our exclusive selections. We love frames and we love offering you well-made and well-designed extraordinary options. That's no bull!