Frames to "Steel" Your Heart

Today we’re talking “industrial chic”. That’s home décor that includes raw elements like exposed brick, pipes and duct work. Furniture and accessories made from materials like galvanized steel or reclaimed wood mixed with concrete or worn textured upholstery combine hard and soft for interesting and often dramatic effect.

A welded steel frame is painted and then distressed to show rust colored accents.

A welded steel frame is painted and then distressed to show rust colored accents.

Custom frames are also a part of the industrial action. (Read this blog from the past for a look at reclaimed wood frames.) Now let's take a look at metal frames, particularly steel. It's a material that implies strength and longevity which makes it a great choice for wedding photographs or ketubahs. We carry a variety of industrial chic options in different styles and colors.

Industrial Chic in full effect on this rusty steel hand-crafted frame. There are over 25 different colors available.

Industrial Chic in full effect on this rusty steel hand-crafted frame. There are over 25 different colors available.


Here’s an example from a custom manufacturer who uses tubular steel elements that are welded together in different proportions and painted in a variety of shades. The paint is hand-distressed to show some of the rusted raw steel beneath. Perfect for nautical images and all kinds of vintage or contemporary artwork and memorabilia.

Hand-painted delicate tea bags look amazing in an imitation rusted steel wood shadow box frame.

Hand-painted delicate tea bags look amazing in an imitation rusted steel wood shadow box frame.

This example is actually a wood frame which has been finished to replicate the look of a rusty steel frame complete with imitation rusted rivets. Love the juxtaposition of the tiny delicate painted tea bag birds with the strong industrial frame.

Create a link between centuries-old craft skill and contemporary design with furnishings and frames in blackened iron, bronze, rusted steel, or copper with patinas. This look is equally at home in both modern and traditional homes. 

This type of finish is available in a few different styles and profiles. Come in to see them all.

This type of finish is available in a few different styles and profiles. Come in to see them all.

Chicago Beyond The Loop - Historical Timeline Tour

Last week we discussed the architectural landmarks throughout our fair city as illustrated on our Chicago Neighborhoods Map. In addition, the map features a border of hand-drawn vignettes by artist Phil Thompson of Cape Horn Illustration. The thought is for the map to show the historical and cultural landscapes of Chicago as well as the literal.

Read more about the great milestones that made Chicago what it is. Chicago Landmarks Maps are available for purchase both framed and unframed in our stores and also on line.  

First European Exploration, 1637

In that which would become modern day Chicago, Father James Marquette landed on the banks of Lake Michigan, becoming the first European to winter in this new territory. Marquette is honored for his exploration through monuments, murals and buildings throughout Illinois.

City Incorporation, 1837

In 1837, Chicago received its first city charter, divided into six wards and with William B. Ogden as the founding mayor. In less than ten years, the extensive growth of the city resulted in the drafting of a new charter in order to acknowledge the rapid expansion.

Mass Immigration, 1840s to Early 1900s

Between the 1840s and the early 1900s, Chicago witnessed unparalleled mass migration by numerous Europeans. By 1900, one out of every four Chicago residents was either the child of or a German immigrant themselves. A majority of the remaining population was of Irish, Polish or Swedish descent.

Industrialization, 1860s to 1920s

In the second half of the 19th century Chicago became a manufacturing metropolis. Due to its world-renowned meat- packing facilities, international agricultural machinery trade and the Wrigley Co. chewing gum, Chicago transformed into a dynamic and expanding city.


The Great Fire, 1871

One of the largest U.S. disasters of the 19th century, the Great Chicago Fire burned for nearly three full days, killing over 300 people and destroying three square miles of the newly industrialized city. Started, as the legend goes, by a cow kicking a lantern in a small barn, the fire spread quickly due to a fall drought, particularly windy weather and poorly trained fire department.


First Skyscrapers, 1880s

One of the first cities to develop skyscrapers, Chicago utilized revolutionary technological designs in order to develop office space to hold the expanding white collar work force. In 1973, the Sears tower, now called Willis Tower, was the tallest building in the world, and held the title for nearly 25 years. 


Haymarket Crisis, 1886

Beginning as a peaceful rally in support of workers striking for an eight-hour work day, the Haymarket Rally became known as the Haymarket Massacre as a protester threw a dynamite bomb at the police working to disperse the protest. The event became a cornerstone in further labor movements.


Elevated Line, 1892

Opened in 1892, the original Chicago Elevated Railroad ran from downtown Chicago to Jackson Park, a distance of 3.5 miles. This route would eventually become the public transportation system that today transports over 75,000 commuters and visitors daily.


World’s Fair, 1893

Hosted in 1893 by the city of Chicago, the World’s Fair was held to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in what would become the United States. The Exposition was an unprecedented social and cultural event exhibiting profound architecture, art, and Chicago goods.


Chicago River Reversal, 1900

In an attempt to save the city from waterborne diseases caused by sewage contamination, Chicago constructed a system of canals to make the Chicago River flow backwards, away from Lake Michigan. The reversal of the river was the largest municipal earth-moving project ever completed and was hailed as a monumental engineering achievement.


Prairie Style, 1900s to 1920s

Largely credited to Frank Lloyd Wright, Prairie Style homes began appearing in the Chicagoland area in the early 1900s. These one-story homes with open interiors and oversized windows influenced decades of future architecture. 


Comiskey, 1910

Comiskey Park, home of the Chicago White Sox was a symbol of Chicago’s south side, hosting four World Series and three All-Star Games, until 1990 when the new field, later renamed U.S. Cellular Field was completed.


Organized Crime, 1920s to 1930s

Infamous entrepreneurs John Torrio and Al Capone rose to power in the 1920s utilizing violence and organized gangs to dominate illegal markets in urban Chicago. Extending through nearly the entire city, gangs controlled international liquor markets as well as other illegal trade all of which has inspired many films.


First Flight from ORD, 1955

Upon its grand opening in 1955, Chicago’s O’Hare airport became the first of its kind to open a “Skymotive” terminal for corporate aircraft. Three years later, O’Hare opened its first international terminal and became the busiest airport in the area.


Chicago Blues, 1950s

Developed in at the peak of Blues culture, Chicago developed its own form of blues music indigenous to the city. This urban style of blues evolved from the classics of the great depression and developed on the streets of the newly bustling city and predominantly black neighborhoods. Chicago became the home of prominent blues musicians such as Muddy Waters, Otis Rush and Big Walter Horton.


Second City, 1959

Opened in 1959, The Second City is the first ever on-going improvisational theater troupe in the United States. Expanded now to Los Angeles and Toronto, the comedy club is known for training some of comedy’s most influential figures. 


Sears Tower, 1970

The Sears Tower, recently renamed Willis Tower, was the world’s tallest building at its completion in 1973. More than one million people visit the observation deck every year, making it one of Chicago’s most popular tourist destinations.

Hancock, 1969

Located on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago, the John Hancock Center is the 7th tallest building in the United States, housing a restaurant with a 360 degree view of the city below.


Millennium Park, 2004

Celebrating the new Millennium, this public park located in the Loop community of Chicago features prominent art exhibits including Cloud Gate, commonly known as “the Bean”, an ice skating rink, beautifully ornate fountains, and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion that hosts numerous concerts through the warmer months of the year. 

Chicago Beyond The Loop - Neighborhood Landmarks Tour

Being in the custom picture frame business, you get to see a lot of artwork. Some of it you see over and over....and over. A frequent framer piece has always been the Chicago Neighborhoods Map. After looking at it so many times, we began to imagine how we would change it. And so we have!

We found local architectural illustrator Phil Thompson of Cape Horn Illustration and gave him our wish list. Phil took pencil to paper and created our vision of a Chicago landscape past and present. 


Our map is drawn from an aerial angle looking west because we've often admired our beautiful city while on approach in an airplane. Phil's work is inspired by Chicago's rich architectural history. Based on a list published by the City of Chicago, neighborhoods are labeled by their most prominent architectural landmark.

Read more about each neighborhood and the architectural features below. Maps are available framed and unframed in our stores and also online.


Albany Park – Kimball El Station

This “open plan” terminal was deemed “the newest thing in Chicago transportation” when the remodeling was unveiled in 1976. It was the first station to include ramp access, a heated waiting area and public art installation. The controversially shaped sculptural pillars titled “Hope and Renewal” added in 2006 were designed by a local artist to celebrate the cultural diversity of the neighborhood.


Andersonville – Swedish Water Tower

Erected in 1927, the 20,000 gallon tank was painted in the colors of the Swedish flag in the 1990s to honor the area’s founding Swedish immigrants. Despite attempts at restoration, the tank had to be removed in 2014 after winter weather damage. The neighborhood is raising funds to construct a replica.


Beverly – The Irish Castle

Chicago’s only castle was built in 1886 as directed by real estate developer Robert Givens to resemble ancestral estates from his native Ireland.  It has been home to several great Chicago families as well as a girls’ college. It became home to the Beverly Unitarian Church in 1942. There are several accounts of the castle being haunted by a former pupil of the girl’s college who died in the 1930s of influenza.


Boystown – Rainbow Pillars

Installed in 1998, 23 foot high rainbow art pillars define an area in Lakeview bordered by Broadway, Halsted and Belmont. Chicago’s Boystown was the first officially recognized gay neighborhood in the United States. It is a vibrant, prosperous, and proud community that offers some of the city’s best shopping, entertainment, dining and nightlife and is host to thousands of tourists during the annual Chicago Pride Fest and Parade.


Bridgeport – U.S. Cellular Field

After 81 years in the original Comiskey Park, a new modern ballpark with the same name became home to the White Sox in 1991. At the inaugural game, the White Sox lost to the Detroit Tigers 16 – 0.


Chinatown – Gate at Wentworth Ave

Framing the unofficial entrance to Chicago’s Chinatown, the second largest Chinatown in the U.S., these two story bronze gates completed in 1993 depict the four greatest Chinese inventions. Home to numerous Chinese restaurants, gift shops, grocery stores and services catering to those interested in Chinese culture, Chinatown is a community hub for Chinese people in Chicago as well as tourists and locals alike.


Edgewater – Edgewater Beach Apartments

Located in the far north area of Chicago since their construction in 1928, these “sunset pink” apartments have hosted many famous guests including Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1994, these apartments are hard to miss by passers-by cruising down Lake Shore Drive.


Greektown – Ancient-style Pavilion

Introducing the first gyros to the United States in 1968, Chicago’s Greektown maintains the history, community and language of the first Greeks to arrive in Chicago in the 1840s. As well as the Taste of Greece summer festival and the Greek Independence Day parade, Greektown displays a number of traditional Greek temples and pavilions to provide a sample of Greek heritage outside of Athens.


Humboldt Park –
Gateway to Paseo Boricua

Serving as a gateway to Chicago’s “little Puerto Rico,” this fifty-nine-foot tall steel Puerto Rican flag is a dedication to Puerto Rican pride within the Humboldt Park community. The street below includes a walk of fame with the names of many outstanding Puerto Ricans and buildings of Spanish Colonial architecture inspired by that of old San Juan.


Hyde Park – University Gate

This beautiful wrought-iron gate welcomes students and visitors of the University of Chicago to the gardens of Hull Court, designed by the University’s botany department and located just across from the Botany Pond.


Irving Park – Villa Historical District

A recognized Historic Place since 1979, the Villa District bookends the northwest area of Chicago’s Polish Corridor. With architecture over 100 years old and inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, the area showcases uniquely crafted homes on picturesque boulevard style streets.


Jefferson Park –
Copernicus Cultural Center

Beginning as the first movie theater in Chicago, the Cultural Center has expanded tremendously since its initial foundation in 1979. Since then, the Center has become a hub of Polish culture, hosting the largest Polish Festival in the country and serving Chicago residents at large with numerous exhibits, fairs and classes.


Kenwood – Powhatan Apartment Building

A Chicago Landmark since 1993, this luxury high-rise on Chicago’s South side was designed by architects Robert De Golyer and Charles L. Morgan and features Art Deco detailing based on the work of Frank Lloyd Wright.


Lakeview – Kwagulth Totem Pole

Donated to the city of Chicago by James L. Kraft, founder of Kraft Foods Inc, the original totem pole was believed to have been carved by the Haida of the Queen Charlotte Islands. More than fifty years later, Chicago’s Field Museum discovered that the totem pole was in fact carved by the Kwakiutl of Vancouver Island and was then donated to the University of British Columbia, but not before Kraft commissioned a replica of the totem pole that now permanently resides in its historic location in Lakeview. 


Lincoln Park – Conservatory

Located in the heart of Lincoln Park, the Conservatory showcases numerous exotic plants, tropical palms and ancient ferns. Celebrating its 120th birthday this year, this home to the Chicago annual flower show is frequently described as a “paradise under glass.”


Lincoln Square – Giddings Plaza Fountain

This magnificent fountain serves as the centerpiece to the Lincoln Square plaza, a community staple hosting community programming such as free summer concerts festivals, garden walks and numerous hotels, banks and retail stores.


Little Village – 26th Street Arch

Currently under construction, this community landmark represents the entrance to Chicago’s “other magnificent mile.” The two-mile neighborhood provides an authentic taste of Mexico in the Midwest. Filled with traditional grocery stores, bakeries, and storefronts, Little Village is an authentic slice of home for the Mexican-American community.


Logan Square – IL Centennial Monument

Built in 1918 by Henry Bacon, known for designing the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, this 70 foot marble column commemorates the 100th anniversary of Illinois’ statehood. Surrounding the base of the monument are reliefs designed by Evelyn Beatrice Longman depicting figures showing the evolution of the state during its first century.


The Loop – El

The center of Chicago’s famed public transportation, the elevated railroad, commonly known as “the El,” serves over 75,000 commuters and visitors daily. The hub of this transportation network is “the Loop”, where the main train lines loop around a rectangle formed by the unofficial boundaries of Chicago’s downtown area.


Magnificent Mile – Water Tower

Located in the shopping district of downtown Chicago, the Chicago Water Tower has served as an Office of Tourism art gallery after being the sole public building to survive the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The tower has become a symbol of old Chicago and the city’s magnificent recovery.


Marquette Park – Darius and Girenas Memorial

This Art Deco style monument honors two Lithuanian-American, Stephen Darius and Stanley Giernas, pilots who died during an attempt to fly from New York to Lithuania in 1933. The Lithuanian consul in Chicago commissioned the monument in 1935 and the unveiling was attended by over 40,000 people.


North Center – Irving & Lincoln Post

Named because it happened to be in the approximate center of the city’s North Side, local printer Henry Moberg gave the area its name in 1921. North Center has been home to Chicago’s oldest radio station, possibly the city’s longest row of car dealerships, Americas first movie capital, and probably our town’s first anti-pollution crusade. The North center post at Irving and Lincoln was erected by the North Center Chamber of Commerce.


Old Town – Gate to Wells Street

These ornate gates designate the area of Chicago known as Old Town, a historic neighborhood home to many National Historic Landmarks and Chicago staples such as The Second City and the Old Town School of Folk Music. The area has served as home to numerous early Native American residents, German and Puerto Rican immigrants, and most recently a community of affluent “hipsters.”


Pilsen – 18th Street

Constituting the heart of one of Chicago’s most authentic Mexican communities, 18th street plays host to numerous Mexican bakeries, restaurants and grocery stores, described as “unconsciously authentic.”


Portage Park – Portage Park Theater

Opened in 1920, and thus one of the oldest movie houses in Chicago, this megaphone-shaped auditorium is home to the Silent Film Society of Chicago and the Northwest Chicago Film Society. The 1300 seat theater shows both silent and classic motion pictures as well as hosting live events.


Pullman – Pullman Admin Building

Located in the historic Pullman community area, the stunning Pullman Company Administration Building has been featured
in several major motion pictures, as well as was the inspiration for the buildings at the North Pole in the animated movie, The Polar Express.


River North – Marina Towers

Occupying nearly an entire city block, the Marina Towers, otherwise known as Marina City, are a mixed residential and commercial building complex on the north bank of the Chicago River in downtown Chicago. The corncob shaped buildings house Chicago’s House of Blues and have been the inspiration for numerous pop culture mediums, including the album cover of Chicago band Wilco’s 2002 album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.


Rogers Park – Murals

The “Mile of Murals,” located in far North Chicago neighborhood Rogers Park is a community-based public art initiative intended to nurture, promote and celebrate the arts-centered identity of the community. The murals, hoping to one day span an entire mile; represent the culture and passions of the unique community that comprises Rogers Park. 


Roscoe Village – Roscoe Bridge Sign

This busy bridge provides passage to Chicago’s Roscoe Village, a community known by the historic Roscoe Street. Populated by numerous business and residents, Roscoe Street is lined with Old World architecture and is known for its delightful summer festivals.


South Chicago – Old Union State Bank

The South Chicago neighborhood stands in the shadow of industry when smoke billowing U.S. Steel mills dominated the skyline. The area flourished until the 1920s, when banks like the restored Union State Bank (92nd and Baltimore) failed. Union State is notable for its cast-iron façade. 

The commercial district ran from 83rd to 92nd streets and included the Calumet National Bank (1909), People’s Gas Store (1925) in terra cotta, and the Commercial Theater.


South Loop – Field Museum

Founded in 1893, Chicago’s Field Museum is one of the largest natural history museums in the world. Attracting over 2 million visitors annually, the museum prides itself on its educational and scientific programs, its many traveling shows as well as its world renowned research facilities.


South Shore – South Shore Cultural Center

Established in 1905, this 65-acre park has a history of cultural preservation and community programming. The Chicago Landmark features a solarium, multiple restaurants, the Washburne Culinary Institute as well as the Paul Robeson Theater. Outside, the Center offers a nature sanctuary, a butterfly garden, as well as a golf course and beach.


Streeterville – Navy Pier

Preparing for its upcoming 100 year anniversary, Navy Pier has a history of comprised of hosting the World’s Fair, being home to the University of Illinois at Chicago and being utilized as training center for the US Navy. Currently Navy Pier, houses the Chicago Children’s Museum, an IMAX theater and the magnificent Navy Pier Ferris Wheel, thus maintaining its reputation as Chicago’s number one tourist attraction.


Uptown – Theater District

Chicago’s premier entertainment destination, Uptown’s Theater District houses various music venues, as well as restaurants and shops. Including the Aragon Ballroom, the Riviera Theater and the Arcadia Ballroom, this community continues to be a destination for tourists and locals alike. 


West Ridge – Classic Chicago Bungalows

Originating in 1930s Chicago, the West Ridge Bungalows were built for working-class areas and were a staple of what became known as the “bungalow belt.” Recently, an effort to maintain the historic bungalows has emerged with fears of increasingly gentrified neighborhoods in Chicago. 


Wicker Park – The Flatiron

Established in the 1980s in the already century old building, the Flat Iron Building has become an art colony and bar featuring visual artists and musicians of all disciplines. Located at the epicenter of Wicker Park, it has become a hub within this hip and vibrant neighborhood. 


Wrigleyville – Wrigley Field

The home of the Chicago Cubs and named after chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr., the iconic park remains the oldest National League ballpark. Its legacy has expanded, transforming the surrounding neighborhood into what is now called Wrigleyville, a neighborhood thriving with bars, restaurants and residential areas.

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?!