Monday, April 20, 2009

Closed Corner, Hand-Crafted Frame Design; Vol. 1: Gilded Frames

The Framing Walls at Chemers Gallery
Can you find Karen?

Custom framing and frame design is so much more than just four sticks of wood cut at 45 degree angles, paper and glass. It's an art form in itself. The first step lies in finding just the right fabrics, colors and frame for your specific piece of art and your personal sensibilities. Chemers Gallery has countless samples from which to choose - an entire drawer filled with dozens of fabric books, over 2,000 corner samples and a closet stuffed full of goodies and tricks. We've been doing our framing on-site for over 30 years and pride ourselves on the quality and craftsmanship of our work.

Let's start by taking a look at the video above to see how a moulding is water-gilded - can you believe how seamless they make it look? That's actual gold leafing being applied to a corner sample, just like the ones you see on our front framing walls. The process has changed little during its 600 year history. The gold comes in sheets that are just over three inches square, and each "leaf" is about 1/250,000th of an inch thick. That's thinner than a strand of hair! Before the moulding can be gilded, it must be sanded, carved, and sanded again. Then layers of gesso and clay are added and sanded a third time. This adds depth of color and texture. Once the gold has been applied, it's hand-burnished with agate stones, and then it's ready for the final finishing. This can be anything from distressing the frame, applying an antique glazing, and coating the frame with rotten stone. (Sounds gross, doesn't it?) Rotten stone is actually decomposed limestone, and gives the look of aged gunk in the crevices and hollows.

Clockwise from top left: Moon Gold finish, Lemon Gold finish, Yellow Gold finish, White Gold finish
Click to Enlarge

These closed-corner handmade frames are created at the workshop of the frame company, and shipped to us in one whole piece. Each frame is made specifically to the dimensions of the artwork. Finishes come in white gold, lemon gold, yellow gold and most recently, moon gold. If this isn't enough variety, the color of clay underneath the gold changes the hue. Clay can be applied in blue, red, purple, green and black. These finishes are often interchangeable, so if you like the carving of one moulding and the color of another, we can easily have it made for you. After all, it is "custom framing!"

Before understanding the gilding process, we hear "Why does the frame cost so much?" After our clients understand the time, skill and patience required to create these beautiful frames they wonder how they can be so reasonably priced. We know everything is relative.

As you can see, the process of creating these classic custom frames requires not only talent, but a genuine love for framing. These frames look stunning on paintings, elegant on antique botanics, handsome on etchings or watercolors. Would you like to frame one of your artworks in one of these magnificent frames? Just bring it in, and our designers will help you select just the right frame to complement your artwork.

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1 comment:

  1. I enjoy your blog and thank you for creating it! Have a great weekend



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