There is no denying Boston has an incredibly rich history which — to no one’s surprise — spills into the art of frame making. A few frame making pioneers called Boston home and one of our favorites has to include Foster Brothers. From 1893 to 1942, brothers Stephen Bartlett Foster and John Roy Foster designed…Details
During the last couple of months, we have had the unique opportunity to frame dozens of 19th Century photographs by photographer William Goldman (1856-1922), for the show, Working Girls, currently on view at the Ricco/Maresca Gallery, in Manhattan. Goldman, who lived and worked as a commercial photographer in Reading, Pennsylvania, was also apparently a regular…Details
There is a lot that needs to be done to a frame before it goes up to be gilded. For us at A Street Frames, that means milling the frame, cutting it and then joining it. After that, the frame goes through a special process we’ve developed over the years that prepares it for our…Details
About a month ago, we began a weekly Facebook installment we are calling Feature Finish Friday as a way to highlight some of the more unique, interesting and sometimes also time-intensive finishes we see on our frames. The idea was to share what goes into these finishes and what we find most interesting about them,…Details
Today’s post is from designer Liz, and is an update to our post from a few weeks ago: “…Which directly led to the invention of the metal section frame – a type of frame used widely throughout the industry as an often minimal and less expensive frame design.” – ASF blog from July 14, 2016, original wording.…Details
Every so often, we get requests for quotes from our frame shop clients to take on large custom framing projects that are too large for those shops and their facilities to handle. Last October, we quoted out one such job that, by April of this year, turned into reality. The scope of the project involved…Details
Today’s post is from Lydia, one of our retail designers, with some framing lore that came through our shop recently… A few weeks ago, a regular client of ours (who usually sticks to contemporary photography) surprised us by bringing in a work on paper that had hung in his parents’ home throughout his life. I knew…Details
Welcome! As we head into the summer we are as busy as I can remember being in our 35-year history. Thankfully, our entire 13,000 sq. ft. shop is air conditioned. We have just launched our new website and I couldn’t be more pleased with the result. We have Julie Levesque to thank, but we had…Details
We have a New Site! For the past year, we’ve been working hand in hand with the design firm Levesque Creative to develop and launch our brand new website. We would like to express our deep gratitude for Levesque Creative’s primary, Julie, who guided us patiently through the design process and delivered a uniquely designed…Details
Marc Morin is a talented young Boston artist, and also our driver extraordinaire at A Street Frames, Boston’s premier picture framers. Holding a Fine Art Degree from the Art Institute of Boston, Marc works in a wide variety of materials and styles. Marc has staged solo and group shows around Boston, Springfield and Central MA…Details
“He is an integral part of making art, even if the brush isn’t in his hand.” Artist George Boorujy provides a perfect introduction for William Louis-Dreyfus. Besides being a businessman with a net worth of over $3.4 billion, William is a passionate art collector. For over 50 years, he has been supporting and encouraging artists,…Details
The South End of Boston is as much a part of A Street Frames’ history as our Cambridge, MA headquarters. 2014 marks our 27th year at 4 Clarendon Street. Over the years, we have watched the South End evolve, and have had the pleasure of developing excellent relationships with a wide range of customers. Of these,…Details
This past weekend was the Fort Point Arts Community (FPAC) Spring Open Studios. Visitors strolled through artist studios, saw the creative process in action, and met the artists. These are the usual things people expect to do at any Open Studios, but there was something else that happened during the event. People were talking about…Details
Outsider art. Here’s a little history. The name goes back to the 1920’s and oddly enough has been attributed to psychiatric patients artwork. In 1922, a German doctor named Hans Prinzhorn published a serious study of art created by patients with mental illness. It was called Bildnerei der Geisteskranken (The Artistry of the Insane). For…Details
“Forever Yours” is the title of Evelyn Rydz’s first solo exhibition, currently on view at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. On Wednesday evening Ms. Rydz and MFA Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art Al Miner gave an engaging presentation of the Artist’s work and her elaborate process. Evelyn received the prestigious School of the Museum of…Details
This has been a fantastic spring for the South End Community. April 25th is the start of ArtWeek Boston, and A Street Frames proudly helped support a fantastic event in March – Taste of the South End; hosted by AIDS Action Committee. Taste of the South End is an annual event, where guests enjoyed food and…Details
Twitter has a new location in Cambridge’s Kendall Square! Thankfully, Twitter has searched out local Boston artists and crafts people’s work for the interior spaces. A Street Frames framed this substantial piece of Masonite titled, “Ripening” by Somerville artist Resa Blatman (@resablatman) for a Twitter conference room. “Ripening” has been laser-cut with all of the…Details
More than 80 of the world’s leading art galleries and photographers from all around the world will congregate in Manhattan on April 9th-13th to celebrate their shared love for photography. The 34th Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) Photography Show is committed to the arts and always maintains and delivers the best quality frames to…Details
The Open Studios are essentially a self-guided tour through Cambridge, visiting artist’s studios and workshops. This year the event is taking place on April 26th and 27th, 2014. There are privately owned spaces, as well as group areas where artists display and sell their latest creations. You can buy works directly from the artist. This…Details
Early spotlight of the 2014 MassArt Annual Benefit Art Auction, April 12th, 2014. The art auction is at 621 Huntington Avenue; Bakalar and Paine Galleries, South building-corner of Huntington and Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA. Tickets are $200 for general admission. On April 10th, there is an early preview reception if you’re a member of the MFA’s…Details
It took 10 expert framers to build a frame for a 12’x5’ photograph of a whale from California-based artist Bryant Austin. The completed frame with photograph weighs 200 pounds and is heading to an Australian art gallery. A lot goes into framing a piece this large. It’s always a good feeling knowing our frames travel…Details
Around Boston, Art Framing has become a confusing experience. Outside of the fine art world, many people may or may not know where to get a picture framed in Boston. We wanted to jumpstart the process by having a Facebook contest to have your art framed for free. At A Street Frames, we want you…Details
Art is not the only object that belongs on walls. Old family photographs can often evoke deeply personal feelings and touch those that were part of the journey. One of our clients brought us about a dozen old family photographs they dug up in their attic to frame for their parents as a gift. The…Details
How does one go about creating a custom frame that perfectly complements a treasured American artifact? When it comes to custom picture frames, the expertise lies in crafting a frame that strikes the perfect balance between showcasing the art and customizing the piece for its display environment. One of our clients brought us one of…Details
We all have keepsakes- special items that we cherish. Nothing is more personal or profound than a gift that triggers the memory, bringing us back to the times that mattered most. This holiday season, capture the essence of those special times by choosing A Street Frames to build a custom frame that embodies and preserves…Details
Not all canvases are alike, as any picture framer knows, and framing a canvas is not always straight forward. Floater frames first appeared in the 80’s and quickly became the standard treatment for framing works on canvas and panels. It can be a very elegant effect when designed
correctly for the work.
Currently on view at our Clarendon Street location “With or Without You”, small drawings by local Boston artist BeBe Beard. Beard is a “one person think tank”. Her artwork blends media and combines equal parts creativity and ingenuity. While all artists experiment creatively, not all invent new approaches to the creative process. The small drawings from the series entitled,”With or Without You”, are examples of artifacts and actions performed and video recorded by Beard.Details
Continuing my historical research into the development of frame design and the framing industry, with my inspiration from the Frame Collection at the MFA, I find that Napoleon changed the path of the frame artisan. The modern concept of the “frame shop” comes to us in the 17th and 18th Century. Also the admiration for the “black Frame” is due to the Dutch influence and Trade Market.Details
Sample chips for a variety of finishes
The final step in building a wooden picture frame is applying the finish. With over a hundred finishing options and endless custom colors, finishing is a particular art that we have fine tuned over the years. Many of A Street Frames finishes are stains with a tinted lacquer, but we also use oils or waxes, hand painting with Japan paint or milk paint, gilding, and opaque lacquers. Because of the variety of finishes we offer, the steps vary slightly for each process.
The first step for any finish is to inspect the frame and make sure there are no sanding marks or unfilled imperfections. Often another set of eyes can spot something the sanders missed and it can be sent back for a little extra work.Details
Linna is a master frame designer and photographer who works out of our A Street Frames Cambridge location. She works closely with galleries in New York City and in Boston to design the best mounting and framing solutions for every work of art. She is also available for walk in clients and has a great eye for finding the perfect framing treatment for everything from kids art to classical paintings.
Linna’s background in art and focus in photography has taught her a deep respect for art and an understanding of many different types of media. Her years in the framing business has allowed her to pinpoint problems and advise the best treatment in conservation as well as framing. She has built up a relationship with many local art conservators and will be sure that your artwork is seen by the right person if it needs additional treatment. Read on for a brief interview and images from Linna’s body of work.Details
Opening next Tuesday at the Museum of Fine Arts is Ori Gersht: History Repeating on view from August 28th through January 6th. This exhibit is unique in that the MFA granted Gersht access to their archives to compliment his own work. His respect for art history comes through in the content of his imagery and he has worked with curators to chose a number of historical pieces to be shown alongside his own work which spans his entire career. This will include several new photographs and a film titled Liquid Assets. This film was created for the Museum of Fine Arts and was inspired by a Greek Coin from the MFA collection.Details
Choosing the Wood
After the milling is done the wood is wrapped up and placed in the proper bin for the cutter. His job is to cut the frame to the proper size specified by the frame designer. He needs to identify the profile, the species of wood and the finish to choose the perfect lengths to cut from. He must be familiar with the properties of each type of wood and the different finishes to guide his selection. Certain finishes are more forgiving, and a few random imperfections may be fine where natural finishes and light stains are not forgiving. He also needs to understand wood and the particular characteristics of the different species. For example, maple wood often has dark spots from growth in the tree. If this was used for a light finish such as our Amber, it would come through glaringly and would not pass our standards. However, if the finish were a solid lacquer color, that would completely cover the maple wood and that imperfection would be acceptable as it does not affect the integrity of the frame.
When choosing lengths for figured woods, such as tiger maple or bird’s eye maple, the cutter must be even more scrupulous. He needs to select stock which is consistent in color and figure while being mindful of how the individual legs of the frame match at the miters. We have to establish what is acceptable, when there are enough eyes in the bird’s eye and when there aren’t enough.
Every frame is one-of-a-kind and we have a very high standard, but sometimes people don’t understand the uniqueness of each length of wood. We often hear that they want their frame to match the sample they have exactly; when that customer is in California with a sample we made 3 years ago, it can be very tricky. When we make samples for our frame shop customers, I always stress not using stock with exceptionally high figure. Scott, who heads up our Empty Frame Division, gets to know our customers very well and usually knows when it may be best to send a call tag for their sample so we can match it as best as possible.Details
Step 1: Examine the Mat
Inspecting your framed art is the first step to protect and preserve your work, however, it must be done with the proper materials. The most noticeable and dangerous problem with older mats is the acid level in the paper. You will be able to see a yellow line along the bevel of the mat cutout. This will cause a subsequent yellowing in the art work called acid burn. This can often be repaired by a conservator but each piece is unique. If you see yellowing, you should bring the framed work to be defit and examined. If your mat is acidic, we will recommend a rag mat that has a balanced pH level throughout and will not yellow over time or cause acid burn on your artwork.Details
After experiencing milling picture frames from 250 moldings in 11 different species of wood, we have some tips for what is usually a pretty time consuming process. Each wood has it’s own characteristics that make milling a time consuming process. Customers often ask why it takes so long to get their frame? It’s a fair question, and I hope this blog helps customers gain some insight into what it takes to bring you your custom frames.
We couldn’t possibly have 2,750 moldings milled on hand at all times, (and milled stock is also much more likely to warp). In order to keep offering the variety of options we provide for our customers, we mill your frame to your specifications as it is ordered. This is a very labor intensive process. We have a constant flow of wood delivered to us on a weekly basis. We go through this wood very quickly and therefore, create a lot of sawdust. The bags of sawdust, which stand 5 feet high, are stored in a container in our parking lot and when the container is full we call our friend Craig and he hauls it to Vermont to be used as bedding for cows. This takes us to the first step in the process of ASF creating custom frames to our customer’s specifications.
The Museum of Fine Arts’ current exhibit “Alex Katz Prints” includes 125 pieces by celebrated artist Alex Katz. The works cover almost fifty years of the career of, as Boston Globe’s Mark Feeney describes him, “The Prince of Prints”. Katz is well known for his bold, hard-edged figurative paintings and prints. Included in the exhibition…Details
Fort Point’s Spring Open Studios Event The FPAC Art Walk is a great opportunity to see Boston’s art community at its best. With 75 art studios and galleries to peruse through 10 buildings, there is no better way to completely immerse yourself in all the creativity that Boston has to offer. In addition to the…Details
So much of what we do here at A Street Frames is more complicated than just framing. We recently completed a project that required us to devise a way to frame an antique game board for one of our best New York clients. The challenge was to display the piece in a floater frame without using any screws, glue, or glazing, and to do it in such a way that it was completely archival (and therefore reversible). Follow along with us through the careful process of designing and building a frame to display this cherished object.
1: We are given an antique wooden game board. The customer would like it mounted in a floater frame without any screws or glue so it will be completely reversible.
2: The backing board is prepared for the artwork by marking the placement of the mounts.
3: Brass rod is first prepared by threading one end.
4: Tools for measuring the contour of the artwork and bending the rod ensure perfectly shaped mounts.
5: Specialized hand tools help fine tune the work.
6: One done, several more to go.
7: Protective skin is applied to the brass with polypropylene tubing and a heat gun.Details
The 14thth Annual Somerville Open Studios will be held on the weekend of May 5th and 6th. This is an event where hundreds of artists have the opportunity to sell there wares in over a hundred homes and studios throughout Somerville. The event runs from Noon to 6PM on Saturday and Sunday, while select venues…Details
MFA Boston Features a New Exhibit Celebrating Japanese Culture As a maker of museum-quality, custom frames, we feel privileged to be located in a city like Boston with such a vibrant art community. With institutions like the MFA, the ICA, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and many more, there is always a fascinating new exhibit…Details
With our newly opened store A Street Frames 251, we mark a return to our original studio space in Boston’s Fort Point Channel neighborhood. Owner Mark LeSaffre, an artist himself, hopes to reach out to Boston artists with a newly-structured professional artist discount. Our doors are open to everyone, from designers and architects to residents…Details
A Street Frames is proud to be included alongside three-time Best of Boston winner designer Maryann Thompson, two-time Best of Boston winner interior styling and color consultants ColorTheory, textile and fabrics firm The Martin Group and many more notable local interior design and home accessory companies in Boston Magazine’s annual Best of Boston award series. Chosen as the best in Fine Art Framing for the 2012 edition, A Street Frames reputation of unbeatable quality, craftsmanship and custom service has earned us a spot among Boston’s elite!
Recently, we featured Mitch Weiss’ striking photograph of Lady Gaga that we had the opportunity to frame for this year’s ARTcetera auction. We are fortunate to work with Mitch to frame both his work for exhibits and varied works he has in his own collection.
One look at his portfolio and his work clearly transcends experience. Mitch Weiss’ visual language flows from inspiration by Renaissance craftsmen and artists who valued originality and attention to detail. Weiss’ technical virtuosity allows him to transform images into what he calls “viewing windows,” acting as a medium to portray the core essence of the subject. Weiss has evolved a mature vision usually reserved for decades of experience, all the while, maintaining the energy and daring of his youth. In a world where virtually every hand can hold a camera, Weiss’ touch can be felt in every image he produces. His curiosity toward the world and constant search for insightful narratives can be seen from a small goldfish to sprawling aerial landscapes.Details
Cindy: How did you get started in the picture framing business?
Mark: I more or less stumbled into it. My first 2 partners and I met at the Art Institute of Boston. After graduating from AIB, were all working at jobs that we were getting tired of and came up with the idea of framing art for artists to support ourselves as artists.
Cindy: Did you have any experience in professional framing?
Mark: No, none at all. One of us worked in a frame shop, one was a painter/carpenter and I worked at a restaurant as a waiter.
Cindy: Every business needs a little start-up money. How much did you start with?
Mark: We all chipped in $2,500. I got my portion from my grandparents.
Cindy: What was it like during the first couple of years?
Mark: We all needed to keep our other jobs so we could make ends meet, but we loved what we were doing. We started slow, and it took us well over a year before we were actually making a salary. I think it was $50 a week. We did something very smart though. We rented out an entire floor at 205 A Street. We divided the floor into a number of studios and we rented them out. We charged everyone a little more than what we were paying so we didn’t have any rent.
Cindy: Then what happened?
Mark: Well eventually I was able to give up one of my shifts at the restaurant. That was the real turning point. I weaned myself out of the restaurant business after about 3 years.Details
From Guest Contributor J. Sybylla Smith, Curator/Director of Digital Silver Imaging
The story of how and why A Street Frames is sharing space with The Griffin Museum of Photography by Digital Silver Imaging is a story of coincidence, timing and relationship. It is how three arts-related entities forged a collaboration based on trusting that the sum can be greater than the parts. I actually met Mark over cider doughnuts and Christmas trees at Clark Farms through mutual friends!Details
An Interview with Renowned Boston Interior Designer Kristin Paton of Kristin Paton Interiors by Jeff Cadey of A Street Frames Q – How did you discover A Street Frames? I discovered A Street Frames over 20 years ago when I was first living in Boston and working for Reid Canavan, the then “IT” Boston Designer!…Details
Photo from MFA Boston Website No doubt, you’ve seen the advertisements for the incredible Chihuly blown glass exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston going on now through August 7th, but did you know there is also a brand new art exhibit that just opened Sunday? Featuring the later works of well-known Pop Art…Details
Metal frames for canvas have come a long way in the past five or ten years. Over here in Boston, we at A Street frame in both steel and aluminum. What are the pros and cons of each? Steel frames give an industrial look, while aluminum frames give the metal look of steel but in a much smaller, lighter package.Details
One area where A Street Frames does brisk business is double-sided frames. Many customers have work that cries out to be viewed from the front and the back so we have developed moldings and techniques to make that possible. When you think of framed artwork, the first image that comes to mind is probably something straightforward—say, a little watercolor with a nice mat in a charming wooden frame. But after you spend just a little time in this business, you learn that surprisingly few pieces are so simple.
What are the best types of wood for picture frames? Currently there are 12 different species of wood that are used across the industry. Of course, some wood species work better than others when it comes to choosing a particular finish, so it is helpful to have a basic understanding of the properties of the different wood species that we here at A Street offer.
Poplar – Grows across most of the eastern U.S.; softest of the hardwoods we offer, also the least expensive; easy to work with; works very well with veneers; yellowish-white in color
Maple – Grows throughout the eastern U.S. and Canada; extremely popular for its beautiful, smooth grain and blond color; very hard, heavy and strong; resistant to abrasion; sands beautifully, takes stain well; best choice for use with one of our opaque lacquers or a clear natural finishDetails
For centuries artists have explored strange perspectives, convoluted viewing devices, and utilized various tricks to tease and enchant the viewer. New York artist Chuck Close has adopted one strand of that tradition, anamorphic drawing, in a few recent portraits—the images are distorted beyond recognition on the flat page but magically appear clear when viewed in…Details
Most of our sustainable wood stock is purchased from Rex Lumber, and all of it is sustainable wood. The great majority of the wood we purchase from Rex is FSC Certified (sustainable). While slightly more expensive, this means it carries the stamp of the Forest Stewardship Council, ensuring that it comes from sustainable, environmentally friendly sources.…Details