Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Back to School: Why I Think an Art Degree Is Valuable

My daughter Michaela at the wheel

As the country goes “back to school,” I’d like to lend my voice to the case for an education in the arts.

And yes, it’s personal.

It’s no secret that my youngest daughter is a recent Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) graduate. Let me start by describing the reaction I often get when I share this information. It’s generally a very glazed look followed by, “OH, that’s NICE. And what is she going to do for a living?”

I would argue that earning an art degree sets a young person up for many options in life. The skills art students acquire are easily related to business, marketing, postgraduate work in the arts, education, and law.

My response?

“Anything she wants.”

I believe that from the bottom of my soul.

Why do I think that? Let me share why I believe the study of fine art prepares one for the rigors of the working world.
  1. First of all, those who study art still have to focus on and excel at their basic academic classes prior to being accepted to an art program. BFA graduates must pass the same math, science, language, history, and all the basic courses that any student needs to earn an undergraduate degree. It’s not fluff and there are no shortcuts.
  2. It’s not easy to get accepted into a fine art program. BFA's have to demonstrate their artistry and technical proficiency by assembling a portfolio of their work and offering it up for presentation before being accepted into a chosen course of study. Why is this a big deal? It requires guts, confidence, and a certain mastery of craft — all valuable in learning to sell oneself in pursuit of a passion.

    Title banner for her BFA show.
    Creatures, An Anthropomorphic Study in Ceramic and Paint

  3. Once in a program, art students learn how to 'go to work.' There is no hiding from the studio, and very little opportunity to hide behind books in art classes.
  4. Along these lines, to survive and thrive, art students must learn to be creative on a deadline, often working with limited materials to create paintings, drawings, or sculptures alike — again and again and again. They must also defend their work in ‘critiques’ with professors and peers which teaches students to take a point of view on not only their own work but their classmates as well,  developing communication and presentation skills while developing a strong sense of individuality as an artist and mentor to their peers, fostering both teamwork and healthy competition. To me, as an employer functioning in a rapidly changing environment, I want to hire team members and future leaders who can work within constraints of tight schedules and budgets and use their energy and imagination to drive results.

    The installation

  5.  Art students learn to organize gallery shows and events, learning not only how to work professionally in a public venue but how market the exhibit and themselves, an invaluable skill in the business world.
    Painting on board. Is this human or animal?
  6. Self-promotion is an invaluable skill in the business world.
  7. On these same lines, artists are trained to see opportunities as opposed to obstacles, to be inventive and persistent, qualities invaluable in all fields.

    My girl with her signature piece

  8. In our highly visual society, where people no longer really read, I am convinced that those who can communicate visually in any field will excel.
  9. No one gets through school without a certain amount of smarts, discipline, organization, and commitment to a goal.  I would argue that an art degree sets a young person up for so many options in life- in business (art related or not) marketing, post graduate work in the arts, education or law - truly a world of opportunity awaits for creative, educated people. And if none of those options work out, guess what else that art student can be?
    Up close: Sculpture As Torso or Rock Formation?

A ceramic, wall-mounted bone: Is this art or science?

 An artist.

At American Frame, artists inspire us. Share a photo of your favorite fine arts graduate or artist and tag us using #FramingHappiness


Laura Jajko
Laura Jajko is President of American Frame and a longtime contributor to "A Good Frame of Mind." Here, she delights in bonding with others over her love of art and framing. With more than 40 years of practical experience, she brings a unique perspective in a straightforward style that she hopes will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialogue in our online community. Connect with Laura directly here on the blog or follow her on Twitter @LauraJajko.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Picture This: American Frames at the Toledo Museum of Art

Our framing team hard at work.

Last month, those of us at American Frame received an unbelievable honor — we were contacted by the Toledo Museum of Art to frame numerous original works on paper for a series of upcoming exhibitions. Imagine getting to work with one of the finest museums in the country as a trusted framer! As a longtime member of the Museum’s Business Council, we readily support the needs of this amazing institution and humbly took on the challenge.

Imagine getting to work with one of the finest museums in the country as a trusted framer! As a longtime member of the Museum’s Business Council, we readily support the needs of this amazing institution and humbly took on the challenge.

- Laura Jajko
President, American Frame
My team worked closely with Robin Reisenfeld, Ph.D., Curator, Works on Paper, about the art on paper being framed.
“During the next few weeks, we are mounting a number of different exhibitions and installations as part of our ongoing efforts to rotate works on paper on a regular basis. A new installation in the Wolfe Mezzanine, Moons, Tides and Earth, features eight internationally known contemporary artists who explore the natural phenomena of dust, moons, stars, and water through a cross-disciplinary approach. Alongside this exhibition in the same gallery will be a display of colorful etching prints of abstract designs by contemporary aboriginal Australian artists.  Included also is an installation of late twentieth-century photographs and paintings that depict the human figure.

“In the Asian galleries, we will be installing examples of 20th century works that demonstrate the influence of Asian art and techniques upon western artists. And opening on Sept. 2 is the exhibition Shakespeare’s Characters: Playing the Part; that includes sixteen works on paper accompanied by early editions of Shakespeare’s Folios. Additionally, we are including a few works on paper in the rehanging of the Speaking Visual galleries.”

Because of the nature of the artwork and its value, all the framing activities, from choosing the materials to designing the treatments as well as final assembly, had to be completed on premise at the museum. This policy is in place to ensure the safety of the work and to minimize risk of damage which can occur due to packing, transporting and handling. To protect the work, we used the highest-quality, conservation-grade materials and processes.  It is important to use archival, acid-free material throughout, including the hinging, mats, frames and glazing, so as not to compromise the integrity of the work.

For most of the framing we chose Nielsen metal frames in the German Silver finish. The German Silver finish is a favorite among our showroom team because of its warm undertones. It helps to soften black and white photography but also melds perfectly with vibrant colors in artwork.  It also helps give a rich patina look to older works. We used this finish on our Radius Colorcast (RC14), Radius Plus (RP14), Standard Plus Three (SP314) and also our new Ridgeline (RL14) frame styles. For the pieces that were a bit more contemporary we chose the frosted silver finish with the Standard Plus Three (SP302) and Canvas (C02) frames, which has a cooler undertone.

For the wood frames we chose a natural finish in the Infinity Collection (51401) and American Hardwoods (206) to not detract from the art. We utilized the Matte White (8464) and French White (8467) from our ArtCare Conservation Collection. These were chosen for their creamy off white color that easily complimented all the artwork, as well as their ArtCare technology that traps and neutralizes acids. Our goal is to not only protect and preserve the works of art but also to select materials that will enhance them while giving the exhibits a unified look. What an honor it was to be trusted with this challenge.

Since wood frames are not acid free we had to line the rabbet with frame sealing tape to prevent the migration of acids.

The artwork was attached to archival foam core using linen tape and a T-hinge.

The mat is then hinged to the foam core also using linen tape.

A few pieces are on loan to the museum from private collectors and could not be hinged. In these instances we had to custom make photo corners to mount the art in place.

A static whisk is a great tool to remove dust and static from artwork, mats, and acrylic before framing.

Final installation of Australian Aboriginal artists. All pieces framed in Radius Colorcast German Silver frame with Matte White mat board.

As always there are so many exciting things to see and do at the TMA! Be sure to give them a visit to see all the new works of art that have made their way out of storage for the public to enjoy! Their hours are:

Tuesday & Wednesday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Thursday & Friday 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday noon – 5 p.m.

And lastly, local businesses, please join us and become a member of the Business Council. We take great pride in what this museum does for our community. As a privately–funded museum, your donations carry a lot of weight.

Have you been to the Toledo Museum of Art to see these incredible exhibits? Share a photo of your favorite installation or framed piece with the hashtag #FramingHappiness!


Laura Jajko
Laura Jajko is President of American Frame and a longtime contributor to "A Good Frame of Mind." Here, she delights in bonding with others over her love of art and framing. With more than 40 years of practical experience, she brings a unique perspective in a straightforward style that she hopes will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialogue in our online community. Connect with Laura directly here on the blog or follow her on Twitter @LauraJajko.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Choose the Perfect Frame for a Canvas Painting

You finally found the painting you’d been searching for and are eager to hang it up. The question is, with so many available, what type of frame should you choose?

Although you may think a canvas painting means you need to go with wood, you can use a metal frame instead. What’s more: Framing your canvas in a metal frame doesn’t have to be a difficult process! Of course, there are a few simple things to check for to be sure it will fit properly.


Choose the right metal frame for canvas


The sheer variety in metal frames means you have many choices, and as great as that is, it also means you have to consider a few factors.

  • Stretcher bar thickness 
  • Stretched canvas thickness 
  • Frame rabbet depth 
It's important to remember the role of rabbets in this process. When using a metal frame, the stretcher bar must be thinner than the rabbet so the canvas will fit inside the frame channel smoothly. To do this, simply refer to the measurement on the frame listed as “R.” This is the maximum thickness your frame will hold.

Frame your work


So long as your rabbet depths are measured and fitted, this process is the same as framing anything in metal.
  1. Start with a clean workspace. Prepare your frame by wiping it with a soft cloth, then lay it facedown and prepare the corners with backing plates, leaving one side open. This is where you’ll insert the canvas. Secure with a screwdriver.

  2. Slide the canvas in and place the last edge of the frame. Secure the corners with a screwdriver.

  3. If you would like to attach a hanging wire, measure one-quarter of the way down from the top of the frame on both sides and attach the hardware. For step-by-step instructions, follow our handy tutorial!
Keep in mind how you want your framed piece to look when you hang it. When you use a metal frame, the canvas can't push out of the back like some wooden frames  if you measure the canvas correctly and choose a frame with an appropriate rabbet, your metal frame will fit like a glove. With so many frame styles to choose from, your options are endless!

Have you framed a canvas piece in metal? We want to see it! Post a photo of your work with the hashtag #FramingHappiness!


Laura Jajko
Laura Jajko is President of American Frame and a longtime contributor to "A Good Frame of Mind." Here, she delights in bonding with others over her love of art and framing. With more than 40 years of practical experience, she brings a unique perspective in a straightforward style that she hopes will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialogue in our online community. Connect with Laura directly here on the blog or follow her on Twitter @LauraJajko.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Attach a Hanging Wire in 6 Steps

Hanging your artwork is the final act of framing. Your framed art can complete your room or help you build your aesthetic around it. Learn how to add a hanging wire to your frame to put the finishing touch on your beautiful piece!

It may sound tricky, but adding hanging wire to your metal frame is a piece of cake! We’ll take you through the process step by step to prove it. Start by gathering your materials!


You will need

  • 1 metal frame
  • Metal frame hanger hardware
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Wire snips
  • Ruler (optional)

Six steps to hanging success


1. Use your screwdriver to make sure the screw is backed all the way out of the hanging hardware. If it isn't, the hardware won't go into the channel easily. Angle the hanger down and insert the metal frame hanger hardware into the channel on the back of the metal frame. Snap the hardware down into place. There should be one hanger on each side of the frame, giving you the option to display your work horizontally or vertically.


2. Once they are in their respective channels, slide the frame hanging hardware pieces up and down until they are even. They should be about one-fourth of the way down from the top.


3. When the hangers are even, use a flathead screwdriver to tighten the hardware into place on both sides.

4. String the wire through the hardware on the left side, twist it around itself to keep it in place, then string it across the frame and through the hardware on the right.


5. Pull up on the wire — toward the top of the frame — to make sure it won’t stick up above the frame.

6. Use wire snips to cut the wire to  your desired length, being sure to leave enough extra to twist it onto itself again on the other side. Twist the wire around itself, keeping in mind that you can untwist and re-twist until you've got the length just right.



Now you can hang your frame!

Whether your frame is metal or wood, attaching a hanging wire is a simple way to add versatility to your artwork.

Have you attached your own hanging wire? We want to see it! Share a photo of your success and tag us using #framinghappiness!

MikeSo, who’s Mike? He is the man behind the mission of getting your picture frames produced and out the door quickly, correctly, and with custom frame-shop quality. Once your order is placed, it is in the hands of Mike and the many people he has trained over his 35-plus years with the company. A natural teacher, Mike loves to tinker and experiment. Of course he has a nice office, but we rarely find him there! Working in the plant to improve our processes is his passion. Outside of American Frame, Mike is an outdoorsman, avid fisherman, devoted family man, and Ohio State Buckeyes fan. Follow him on Twitter @AskMike400.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

10 Steps to Float Your Artwork

As framing experts probably know, acrylic spacers are designed to be used in place of a mat board. A mat board is often used to separate the artwork from touching the acrylic, either for protection or for aesthetics. Sometimes, the traditional “glazing to mat board to artwork” stack doesn’t align with the desired look.

A great alternative to the traditional method can be created using acrylic spacers. The space provided — sans mat board — offers a minimalist look that highlights the artwork. Follow along to learn how to create this look using a metal frame and acrylic spacers!

Before we get started, make sure to pick out the spacers you want to incorporate into your frame. We offer three varieties of acrylic spacers: one-fourth-inch black, one-fourth-inch clear, and one-eighth-inch clear. We suggest using black spacers for dark or black frames.


  1. Make sure your artwork is secure by hinging or dry mounting it. You can take your artwork right to the edge of the frame or you can create borders by floating your artwork on a larger board. In either case, spacers alone are not able to hold your artwork securely for long.


  2. Begin assembling the metal frame by attaching three of the sides together. Put aside for now.


  3. Carefully cut lengths using scissors or a box cutter to prepare the spacers for use in a metal frame. You will need to cut fours spacers total: two for the length and two for the width. They should measure just under one-eighth of an inch of the acrylic glazing’s measurements.


  4. Place the spacers onto the glazing before you adhere them to make sure they fit.



    NOTE: For a metal frame, the spacers will need to rest just under one-sixteenth of an inch off the edge of the glazing, creating a small, even lip. Naturally, the glazing will be loose and move slightly inside the frame. To prevent the spacers from being seen, they have to be strategically placed to ensure they stay hidden behind the rabbet when the glazing inevitably shifts.

  5. Peel back the protective cover of the glazing for the art side once you are confident the spacers are correctly placed and measured.


    Peel back the sticker on the acrylic spacers to reveal the sticky side that will be placed onto the glazing.


  6. Carefully place the spacers down in a clockwise pattern. Remember to go over the edge of the glazing a bit. Do not press down on them too hard in case changes need to be made before the frame is put together.


  7. When all four spacers are placed, slide the glazing into the partially built frame to test the placement and make sure it fits.


  8. Take the glazing out and remove the other side of protective paper. Clean both sides of the glazing and place it with your artwork into the frame. The spacers should be on the inside and pressed against the artwork side of the mounting board.


  9. Slide the entire art stack into the partially built metal frame. Close the frame by adding the fourth side of metal and check it. Inspect for debris and make sure the spacers are not visible. When you’re satisfied, tighten up the screws, clean the glazing, add wall protectors, and add a wire or sawtooth hanger.


  10. Enjoy your beautiful artwork! Well done!



Have you used a metal frame and acrylic spacers to create a unique, floating art frame? Share it with us on social media, using #framinghappiness, and tag us in your photo! Love your art. Frame it right.

Laura Jajko
Laura Jajko is President of American Frame and a longtime contributor to "A Good Frame of Mind." Here, she delights in bonding with others over her love of art and framing. With more than 40 years of practical experience, she brings a unique perspective in a straightforward style that she hopes will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialogue in our online community. Connect with Laura directly here on the blog or follow her on Twitter @LauraJajko.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

When it Comes to Wood Frames, Quality Trumps Quantity

Just as an artist takes time and care in choosing each canvas and blending every color, our framers assemble each wood frame to be unique and customized for your use. Our commitment to creating original, high-class, customized wood frames is matched by the way we assemble each order.

Today, we’re letting you in on the secret. Here are the standards we follow at American Frame to create the wood frames you rely on, ensuring we help you love your art and frame it right:

1.Quality materials



Just as artists select the finest paints to make their creations, the professionals at American Frame use high-quality raw materials sourced from approved suppliers. Mouldings are hand-picked, and only the finest sticks are pulled. Plus, over 70% of what we sell is from American manufacturers.

2.Consistent inspection



At American Frame, we are lucky to have meticulous hands-on crafters who scan for knots and imperfections. If one is found, it is cleanly cut from the frame with a precision saw and smoothed to perfection.

3.Variety


Retailers want to offer a variety of choices to their customers — and we are no exception. We offer a wide range of styles, colors, and textures in both frames and mats to fit the uniqueness of your project.

4.Handcrafting



Once our frames are cut, they are sent down specific paths to be assembled — by hand. After passing inspection for imperfections, the corners are glued and the frames are secured with “v-nails.” The wood frames are then given a professional frame-shop finish with putty and polish before they are wiped clean. At the same time, acrylic sheets, mounting boards, and mats are being prepared.

After all the pieces are constructed, they come together as a single, carefully packaged order that will be safely delivered to your door.


It all comes down to our meticulous process and the promises we stand behind: quality materials, consistent inspection, product variety, top-of-the-line tools, and hand assembly. These methods set American Frame apart from the rest. The next time you receive a wood frame order, you’ll know that each piece was as thoughtfully cared for as the art you decide to showcase in it.

Can you see the care we put into your order? We’d like to see it! Simply post a picture of the wood frames you ordered on social media with the hashtag #framinghappiness.

Laura Jajko
Laura Jajko is President of American Frame and a longtime contributor to "A Good Frame of Mind." Here, she delights in bonding with others over her love of art and framing. With more than 40 years of practical experience, she brings a unique perspective in a straightforward style that she hopes will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialogue in our online community. Connect with Laura directly here on the blog or follow her on Twitter @LauraJajko.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Green Thumb DIY: Frame Your Succulents!

Summer is upon us! It’s time to get outside and get your hands dirty. Picture frames aren’t just for indoor spaces — there are many ways in which they can be incorporated into outdoor settings as well! We're happy to share a fun and simple DIY activity that even the kids can help with. Follow along as we show you how to make a DIY framed succulent planter.


For this project, you will need:

  • 2-by-1-inch cedar board (at least 4 feet in length)
  • Saw
  • Wire mesh fencing with ½-to-1-inch openings (one square foot or larger)
  • Wire snips
  • Hardboard or plywood (enough to cut to 11 ½-by-11 ½ inches)
  • Staple gun
  • Staples
  • Assortment of small succulents native to your region (enough to fill your planter)
  • Outdoor wood glue
  • Hammer
  • 1-inch brad nails (enough for two to three nails on each side of the cedar board frame with extras for securing the hardboard or plywood to the planter frame and a few more if you're using a wooden frame)
  • Cactus or succulent potting soil
  • Frame of your choice

Cut and assemble the cedar frame


  1. Cut the cedar boards to 12 inches in length with mitered corners. (See Images 1 and 1a.) Cut ½-inch-deep-by-½-inch-wide “channels” in the backs of the boards to accommodate the plywood or hardwood backing.
Image 1a
Image 1

  1. Apply outdoor wood glue to the mitered ends of the cedar boards and secure the corners together with the 1-inch brad nails. Do this with all four sides.
  2. Cut an 11 ½-by-11 ½-inch hardwood or plywood square (assuming you’ve cut “channels” into the backs of the cedar boards as instructed in Step 1).
  3. Apply outdoor wood glue to the inside groove of the cedar box and nail hardwood or plywood into place.

Add succulents

  1. Once the glue dries, fill your box with cactus or succulent potting soil.
  1. Place mesh on top of your frame and staple it down, securing it to the face of the cedar frame. Then cut off excess using wire snips.
  1. Add the succulents into the frame by carefully poking their roots through the mesh and into the soil.
  1. Once they are all in place, add more soil around and between the plants as needed.
  2. Be sure to leave the frame lying flat while plants take root, about 7-10 days after planting, keeping the best growing conditions for your succulents in mind.
  3. Once the succulents are in place, measure the outside of the box. Use those dimensions when ordering your frame. Be sure to pay attention to the rabbet depth of the frame to make sure it can accommodate the depth of the cedar frame. This is especially important with metal frames.

    Don’t know which frame to choose? Our Canvas Plus and Rustic collections are great places to start!
  4. Once your wooden frame arrives, secure the custom picture frame to the cedar frame with 1-inch brad nails. If using a metal frame, just follow the assembly instructions included with the frame.

Have you ever used a frame to dress up your outdoor space? Be sure to share your finished framing projects with us on social media using #framinghappiness!

Laura Jajko
Laura Jajko is President of American Frame and a longtime contributor to "A Good Frame of Mind." Here, she delights in bonding with others over her love of art and framing. With more than 40 years of practical experience, she brings a unique perspective in a straightforward style that she hopes will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialogue in our online community. Connect with Laura directly here on the blog or follow her on Twitter @LauraJajko.
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