Hobbies, Home, Inspiration, Life, Weekend Stories

Let’s Talk Framing

After I moved into my own apartment at the ripe age of nearly 35 and was finally living alone at the age of 36 – I decided to take all the paintings and prints I had purchased over the years from my travels and frame them. I initially wanted to do it because the walls were bare, but more than anything, I wanted to display the items I had been collecting for over a decade now. They weren’t many – but there was enough. I shopped around and quickly realized that framing ANYTHING is an incredibly expensive “hobby.” So, I settled for Michaels and I say the word settle very inaccurately because as it turns out — Michaels’ custom framing is wonderful! The first painting/print I had framed was a replica of a Sistine chapel artwork from The Vatican Museum. It had shades of purple, gold and blue. I loved it and truthfully didn’t pay a lot of attention to the actual print rendition – what it was saying, etc. In fact, when I went to get it framed, I still didn’t look at the subject matter very carefully. [There is a whole hilarious side story to this but that’s for another day.]

The nice lady at Michaels that helped me was very patient and walked me through the process. I didn’t realize there was more to it than just selecting a frame. I needed to decide on matting, how many, the colors, the color combinations and the actual size of each matting! It felt a bit overwhelming and yet so very exciting! I loved seeing my selections pop up on the computer to show me exactly what the finished product would look like. I was quite pleased with myself having selected my gray wood frame with purple and white matting and having paid some $250+, to walk out of the store with a receipt that promised when it would be ready. This seemed like an act of adulting. 

Two weeks later when I went to pick up the stunning print – and it really was stunning, I realized what a satisfying “project” FRAMING had been! Here was the catalyst to my (near) addiction to the process. I came home, thoroughly pleased with my product and feeling like an adult. I found the print a “home” right above my purple sofa. It was a decent size print and looked really beautiful above my love seat. 

It wasn’t long before I walked back into Michaels with an artwork I picked up in Prague. It was a bit creased, having been rolled up for years in my possession. But I knew the staff at Michaels would be able to fix it. This was a panoramic art piece in hues of golden, brown, taupe — depicting sunset over the Charles Bridge. I picked up a velvet (YES VELVET) brown matting with a soft taupe 1/4” matting to go underneath it. And I picked out a RICH, Gold frame that brought out the artist’s exquisite paint strokes so ELEGANTLY! I was mesmerized by the selections. When I went to pick up the finished product a few weeks later, I was astonished at how magnificent this rolled up piece of paper traveling with me for years had transformed into! I couldn’t wait to come home and find it a place on the wall! 

Giddy as I was with excitement, I was also painfully aware that this really was turning out to be an expensive hobby; I need to take a good breather between each of these framing sessions. 

And so I did. I took a break for a few months, before returning to my trusty craft store, this time with a print of the Neuschwanstein Castle I had bought during my travels to Germany in 2011. It’s been sitting in rolled-up parchment paper for nearly 9 years! A vibrant autumnal print of the castle — it was the brightest of all the art pieces I went to get framed so far. This third trip was a lot more time consuming (but in a good, challenging way). I took a lot of time deliberating on the “perfect” matting — trying to find colors that would shine without distracting or taking away from the photograph itself was no easy feat. I was so torn with everything we tried out but I knew that I didn’t want to make a decision between torn feelings. I was convinced that when the right color came to surface, I would just “know” it instantly.

After countless trials, I asked to try a velvet forest green matting (it seemed like the obvious wrong choice, seeing that the print had a lot of green from the forests around the castle), but I figured it couldn’t hurt to try. And I was right. The magic was instant. I felt so elated and all I did was select a color for heaven’s sake! Then something even more magical happened. The framing specialist pulled out another softer green that reflected the shades of leaves in the photograph and she put it underneath my more bolder pick to create a secondary border. Another moment of magic, I was hooked! It was so beautiful!! I was having such a fulfilling experience and we weren’t even done! After the two shades of greens were finalized as the matting colors, I moved onto the frame selection process. Here again, we tried wood upon wood upon wood. I had this vision of wanting the frame to reflect the forest somehow but none of the wooden frames felt right. Then, just like another magical instant, I found it — this rounded wooden frame which mimicked the castle towers in shape but had reminiscents of the tree barks in color and texture.

Honestly, this moment could not have been more perfect. I was so happy with the result we had put together that I wanted to hug the lady; I didn’t. I came back two weeks later to pick up my framed print and returned home in search of a “home” for the latest wall art. It took a little dabbing into interior decorating for me to find the “right” place for it in my small apartment.

I soon realized the satisfaction of getting a picture/print/artwork framed lasts through all the stages, even well after a piece is already hung on the wall.

It has been several months since my last framed artwork was put up and with limited wall space I have, it may be a very long time before I am able to delve further into this newfound hobby. But I will tell you this, every time I am in the presence of my wall arts, I am reminded not only of the magical process of how they got up there but am immediately transported to the moments when they were each obtained. I can tap into those memories so vividly, even after all these years.

Although I do not know when I will get a chance to experience this crafty “artwork” again, I am happy knowing I’ve found real pleasure and satisfaction in the act of framing artwork! What an unexpected way to reconnect with my travel adventures!

Do you have a hobby that you didn’t see coming? I’d love to hear about it!

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