Truly unique & completely original. (Pt.1)

One aspect of custom framing I really enjoy is when I get the opportunity to have free reign.

Occasionally the right piece of artwork will come along, where I can introduce a series of ideas and skills to create a frame that really showcases the piece it's going around. Adding elements of creative mount design, as well as framing techniques to compliment, highlight, and otherwise showcase the artwork I've been entrusted with.

Hand finishing mounts and/or frames to create something truly unique and completely original.

Over the past few years, I have had a growing opportunity to flex my creative muscles in this way, and have produced a number of hand finished, custom frames in various styles using various methods.

The first occasion was quite a while back, when I first started Resolute Framing. I had a pair of Becky's (my other half) old converse trainers. These things were beat to hell, holes worn through the canvas at the heel, holes in the soles, the rubber edging cracked and peeling away. They were pretty shocking, but man did they have character! It was jokingly suggested that they'd look good framed, but that idea instantly turned from a joke to a concrete plan.

In this instance I found a really big chunky moulding, with a really nice curved profile and covered it in fury Leopard print fabric to match the laces.

That was that. My first true custom, hand finished frame.

From that point onwards, I made the decision that on top of 'regular' framing, I would hone and develop my skills and techniques so I could specialise in all manner of hand finished custom framing, for anyone who wanted that something special.

My next big piece (and still my favourite to date) was done back in June of this year. A good friend of mine whom I'd done some work for in the past, had a large screen print they wanted to have framed, and when I got my hands on it I knew instantly what I wanted to do. Now thankfully this friend was the kind of awesome who was happy to let me get on with it. Initially we were going to keep it fairly plain, and just add a splash of highlight with a coloured inner slip frame. I however, decided it needed more than that, so just went right ahead and went a bit crazy

As you can see, the print is awesome. Loads going on, really vibrant colours and some great patterning. It would have been a shame to just stick a plain mount around this and let it be done at that.

I spent what seemed like an eternity cutting the five point stars around the top mount, to mirror the print. The red is a second mount underneath. I added some extras along the top to balance it all out. I then hand painted the purple onto the mount itself, colour matched to the print, and followed the artists original design, extending the 'rays' right up to the frame.

I kept to the original plan of a simple frame and added the red coloured slip to pull it all together.

I loved revealing this when it was all finished. Like I mentioned, my friend had no idea I was going to go this far with it, and thankfully it went down a treat. This is one of those prime examples of why custom framing is hands down the only way to go.

It's so easy to just pop a black frame around something and be done with it. But to truly do the art justice. To show it off in all its glory, you need a great piece of framing.

Hand painting mounts is one thing. Hand painting frames is something else. It requires a totally different approach and a lot of time and patience.

It's not just a case of taking a frame, grabbing a can of spray paint and gassing yourself out with the fumes. There are certain finishes you want to be able to achieve, and a lot of the solvent based aerosols just aren't suitable (in my opinion)

In this example, I took a simple ornate style frame, which originally started its life gold in colour. There’s a whole bunch of initial prep that’s required in a lot of cases, but occasionally, the original frame has a finish that allows me to crack on with minimal preparation before I start on the final paint. I don't use aerosols as I mentioned earlier, neither do I use your usual tinned paints from High street or DIY stores.The paint I use it a special, water based, coating that is self-levelling and waterproof when dry. This self-levelling aspect is really important and a nice, smooth uniform finish is a must for me. Mixing down to the right consistency is an art in itself.

I also add a few other secret ingredients for colour depth and clarity. This I've developed over numerous attempts both successful and total failures. For this frame I hand mixed a red and applied about 6 coats to build the colour and ensure total coverage. When this was completely dry, I then applied a satin black, and used a rag to pull the paint off of the raised areas, allowing the red below to show through. This is did for 4 coats, again to ensure maximum coverage.I chose the red as the under colour because the model in the print has red lipstick on, and being the most subtle of all the colours used in the print, it was the perfect option. The Yellow in her necklace would have been a bit too overpowering, and the blue/green in the tattoos just wouldn't have looked right.

All of this paint work is brushed on by hand, no spray cans or spray guns. That way I can get up close to the frame and really work with the paint, tweaking and finessing as and how I want.

In the Next blog post, I will talk a little more about these techniques and the applications I have put them to. The frames featured in this next blog will show off some additional modeling that I have incorporated into the finished item.

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