Custom framing. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been a bit intimidated by the process. So many choices. So many decisions. When Michaels asked us to test drive their custom framing service, I have to admit, I was a little hesitant at first. The more I thought about it, the more I was intrigued, and we ultimately decided to give it a go.
Keeping in mind that Michaels can frame pretty much anything (including guitars, jerseys, quilts, etc), we racked our brains for a few days trying to narrow down what to have framed. We didn’t have any vintage guitars or quilts on hand, so we thought it would be fun to have our prized vintage gas station number framed. For over a year, I’ve been noticing a ton of old red gas station numbers at our local flea markets and antique malls. I’ve been keeping my eye out for a number 7 for what seems like forever and found a plethora of 3’s, 2’s and 6’s but no 7’s. About six months ago, I finally found a 7. It was $20 – which was about 75% more that what all of the other numbers were marked – but that was okay because it was exactly what I’d been looking for. Finally. Since then, Greg and I’ve been wondering what to do with it. We couldn’t necessarily frame it because that’s not really your standard frame size.
Next, we had this box of post cards that had been sitting around for almost two years. My mom gave them to me as a part of my birthday present, and the moment I saw them, I thought they would make great wall art. I envisioned them being hung in a grid of 6 or 9. Since the postcards are 4×6, with a tiny white border around the edge, and we wanted a slightly larger than average mat (at least larger than the other 4×6 frames we’d seen). That made them perfect specimens for custom framing.
When I arrived at the store for my custom framing appointment, I met my framing expert, Kate – who by the way is a very talented illustrator (I so wish I could draw). I showed her what I had to frame and the style I was going for (simple/timeless/modern-ish).
To start off, Kate took a photo of the metal number using a digital camera on an arm that hangs over the table – or what I refer to as the “handy dandy sky cam”. The photo was immediately uploaded to the computer where she loaded it into the in-store Frame Visualizer. By the way, the consultants put on the white gloves to protect the artwork they’re working with, which is a very nice touch, if you’re working with something that’s easily damaged or discolored.
Michael’s has tons and tons and tons of mat options. 480 to be exact. They also have different textures, finishes and details to choose from. For both of my framing projects, we decided to go with a simple white, classic mat.
Now for the frame. Oh my goodness. So. Many. Frames. Luckily, I wasn’t too overwhelmed because we already had an idea of what we wanted for this piece. Since we’re thinking about hanging this in the kitchen (or at least near the kitchen), we wanted a dark frame to stand out amongst the white cabinetry. I showed Kate a photo of the space we were thinking about hanging it and she agreed – a simple black frame was the way to go.
Each frame option has a “grade”, and each piece of artwork graded based on its dimensions. The grade of the frame has to be the same or greater than the grade of the artwork, or the frame won’t work. At first, I was thinking more along the lines of a small, thin frame (like the one on the far leftt of the counter), but since the frame’s grade was a lot lower than the grade of the gas station number, we had to upgrade to a beefier frame.
Since the width of the frame was smaller than the width of the red number, everything actually balanced out perfectly. As far as the mat, Kate and I both thought it would look really cool to mount the number on the mat rather than having the number surrounding the mat like traditional matting. I’m so excited to see the results of this! Now, on to the next framing project…
The box of post cards came with 100 book covers. Before coming for the consultation, I narrowed it down to 9 cards. Once I laid them all out on the counter, I thought that 6 framed cards might look a bit less cluttered, so I narrowed them down to six. Once I settled on the six we were going to have framed, Kate took each one, measured the artwork and took a photo of it using the handy dandy “sky cam”.
Once again, we went with the simple black frame – but this time around, using the smaller one. As for the mat, Kate suggested we do a double white mat. It brings more depth to the simple design of the framed piece as a whole and overall, gives it more “oomph”.
The entire consultation took about 45 minutes to an hour. It really didn’t even seem like that long because, honestly, it was a lot of fun. Not at all as tedious or laborious as I expected. Before I left the store, Kate gave me a paper for each frame (7 total) that included the overall dimensions of each frame and the style frame and mat we used. This will definitely come in handy when we decide to have more pieces framed in the future. The turnaround time for our frames (and most framing projects) is two weeks. We should probably be getting them sometime next week, and I can’t wait to see them!
Out of curiosity, I asked Kate about the largest piece they’ve ever framed. She told me about a guy who is trying to make his own custom-sized projector screen. He’s having a wooden frame made at a local lumberyard, bringing the frame to Michaels and having them stretch a blank canvas over it. Did I mention this “frame” is gigantic? She said it covered both framing tables then some. Now, that’s a big project.