A ‘Good Frame of Mind’ is the AmericanFrame.com company blog where we write about all things art & framing. Here you will find a range of articles on frame design, framing tips and techniques, printing tutorials and answers to your ‘frequently asked’ customer service questions. We love to interact with our audience so we hope you’ll join our community by subscribing and commenting on the blog.
Raised among the rolling hills and
sprawling fields of Kansas, Stephanie Sherman found herself wandering the world
around her at an early age.
“I would run off and find places to
explore. My parents could never find me,” she explains. “It’s in our nature to
find new places, to see what’s beyond our borders. I guess I’m still doing
Stephanie’s passion for art has
only deepened with age. She’s tried her hand at acrylic paint, watercolor and
pottery, but has a special fondness for photography.
“Photography is all about capturing
that split-second moment. I think photographers are masters of time because we
can freeze it in one frame.”
Dabbling in wedding and portrait
work for years has pulled Stephanie back to her roots. Turning a passionate
hobby into a full-time career, she’s crafted captivating and dramatic fine art
photography. With an eye for beautiful, haunting imagery, Stephanie captures
the spirit of natural settings and minimalism.
AF:Do you consider
yourself a photographer or an artist?
Stephanie:I’m a fine art
photographer and have been shooting for over 15 years. While I end up shooting
a variety of subjects, my heart lies with photographing environments or moments
in a way that make people feel something or, at the very least, allow you a
sense of a mood. I want the viewers to feel like they could be there. I’m also
a mother and wife and have made time with my family and my aspirations of being
a successful artist my priorities.
AF: Do you use American
Frame products for business or personal framing?
but some personal. I’m self-employed and selling my artwork is my source of
income. My website is www.ShermanPhotos.com.
AF:Where do the
frames you buy from us go?
Stephanie:It varies. Most
of my clients are either in New York or California. I work with a high-end home
decor company that sells my artwork. So, most of
my work ends up in the homes of those who frequent the site. A hotel in Rhode
Island purchased 10-15 framed prints from me for use in their rooms.I also sell to interior designers for their
AF:What sorts of
items do you frame?
Stephanie:I frame strictly
photographs. A good mix of color and black and white photography ends up in
your frames. The majority of what I sell is coastal.
AF:What is your
favorite American Frame product?
Stephanie:I regularly use AF152 and AF206 for selling, but
my favorite for personal use is
Studio 95192. It’s a thick
matte white frame that’s perfect for my more minimalist black and white pieces.
I also love the Hot Press Bright
for printing. The texture and quality in the print for that particular paper
really make my photographs the best they can be.
AF:Why do you work
with American Frame?
Stephanie:It started with a
recommendation from online blogs and forums. After visiting your site and many
others, I saw that yours had the lowest prices and had the most to offer. I can
have my work framed and get a high-quality print directly from
your site, and ship it straight to my customer if needed. The customer service
has always been great. You guys do well to accommodate my most panicked moments
when a client needs something quickly.
One time I was heading out of town
and my client needed their artwork delivered quickly. There wasn’t enough time
to get it to me before my trip and still be able to send it to my customer
before their deadline. I called American Frame’s customer service and told them
my situation. I was able to send you all the materials and inserts that I
normally place in my packages and you sent it directly to my customer in a
non-branded box. That really saved me. And that was back before you offered
non-branding as a service.
Stephanie, for being such a wonderful customer.
Stephanie:Thank you! You’ve
done a great job. Your performance helps me stay productive and keeps me in
You’ve likely seen graffiti on passing box cars, decrepit
buildings, and highway overpasses.
But have you ever seen it framed?
Two Australians are elevating graffiti - and further
legitimizing it - by presenting it as - in a way - framed art.
SKR3AM and JINKS are contemporary street artists in
Melbourne who work from their home base RedlightStudio. Actually, it’s difficult to label what they make as “graffiti,” as
the term suggests illegal and undesirable expressions. That’s not the case
We were excited to learn that their signature work includes
an element we know very well.
According to their website, the artists used “a combination
of picture frames, either collected or custom made” to create “a unique trademarked
process, placing each frame strategically over the mural, creating an elegant
Some of the first known frames were used with
the Egyptian portraits of the dead. Also known as Fayum mummy portraits, these
works of art were framed with wood and fabric. It's believed they were
displayed in the home of the deceased person before being permanently placed on
Fayum portraits are considered to be the oldest
modernist paintings and the first forms of framed art. An artist would paint an
image of the deceased using a technique known as encaustic. The process
required mixing colored pigment with heated beeswax.
Imported hardwoods, such as cedar, cypress, oak,
lime and sycamore were cut into thin panels and smoothed. The portraits were
then painted on those panels. The finished portrait would be placed into layers
of wrapping that enclosed the body, and then surrounded by bands of cloth. That
gave the effect of a window-like opening through which the face of the deceased
could be seen, essentially framing the portrait.
Framing Watercolor Paintings: Avoiding
paintings is easier than you think. All you need is a few techniques to avoid
some common issues.
framers can be weary of framing their watercolor paintings. That’s because as the
art dries, it leaves ripples in the paper - sometimes subtle, but often, more
dramatic. That prevents the painting from lying flat against a mat.
“And that can
leave the end result looking sloppy or warped,” said Chris Brown, our
Commercial Department Framing Assistant.
watercolorists intentionally rip the paper to make the edges look worn. You can
also apply that “floating” technique if you’ve painted too close to the edge of
the paper and you don’t want any of your work obscured by the frame.
You can dry
mount the paper before painting it.
That allows the paper to lay smooth once the painting is finished. One
drawback: you need to choose the mat and frame size before you start working.
watercolor paper ripples during painting, you may be able to fix it and still
achieve a flat mount. Brown suggests evenly misting the back of the paper with
water, then laying the work face down. Layer paper towels over the back and
place a heavier layer, like Plexiglas, on the back. Finally, add another heavy
layer, such as books. Check the painting 24 hours later to see if the ripples
have disappeared. If not, repeat the process.
are uncomfortable using the water method with a watercolor. They think they
might damage the piece,” Brown said. “But I would recommend practicing this if
challenge: potential ripping caused by adhesives. We recommend reversible tape.
It’s easily peeled off and reapplied without causing harm to your delicate art.
Brown prefers gummed tape, which can be easily removed with a damp cotton swab.
questioning this method, I use a small sample to test a corner of the paper,”
Brown said. “I find that self-adhesive tape doesn’t often hold too well with
soft but dense watercolor paper.”
The thought of working with your sister might send you
sprinting in the opposite direction. For them, it’s a meaningful, long term-journey.
In honor of ‘sister’s day’ Laura Jajko and Dana Dunbar agreed to share their story
of what it’s like to be sisters in the workplace.
What is it like to
work with your sister?
Laura: For me, we’ve been working together for so long it’s natural. I really don’t
think about the fact of being sisters on a day to day basis. We have very
different complementary skill sets and we rely on each otherto perform. Dana’s
expertise is more operational and financial, mine is more on the sales and
marketing side. But we are equally passionate about running a really great
company for our employees whiledriving value for our customers, who all really
depend on us. I often laugh that ‘my younger sister signs my paychecks.’ (And that’s a good thing! I think she’s the
So you’re probably looking for the drama here, right? Of
course we have disagreements, but not many. And when we do, we always cede to
the one who has that responsibility in their court. I don’t choose the
accountants and bankers, she doesn’t choose the marketing team.
Dana: It’s an adventure. Laura is always pushing the needle.
She’s not interested in sitting still and continually challenges me with new
ideas. Every time we talk, Laura gives me a nugget to think about. Our
brainstorming sessions are the most fun. Everything is on the table and nothing
is off limits.I can be a little nerdy
and she is okay with that.
It’s nice to have a partner that you know you can trust and
who aligns with your values. Laura knows how to motivate and she cares about
her team. Laura leads by example. She never asks me or anyone to do something
she, herself, is not willing to do. Her energy drives me to be better and do
better. Bottom line, Laura makes my job fun and interesting.
Are you close friends
outside of the workplace? Laura: I would say we were really close years ago when we
lived in the same neighborhood between 2000-2006. We used to get up every
morning at 5am to walk or workout together. Since then we don’t have so many
occasions to simply socialize, but we have lunches together a few days a week and
of course there are family get-togethers that are important to us.
Dana: We’re neverreally outside the workplace but yes, we
are close. Laura and I talk daily and now that she has a granddaughter, our
conversationsinclude an Ella update which invariably leads to texts of cute
baby facesand tricks. I’m looking forward to some sister time at the Rauschenberg
exhibit next month. It will be a good opportunity
to catch up and be inspired.
What do you admire
most about your sister? Laura: I find her commitment to her community amazing. She
recently stopped an $11M road expansion in her neighborhood – literally by creating
a movement, without the need for any fundraising. She’s our very own Erin
Dana: Laura’s fearlessness. She’ll put herself out there
like no one else I know.
We were at an e-commerce marketing conference a few years
ago where Laura was asked to be a speaker. Throughout the event, speakers
emphasized the importance of testing the data. It became their mantra: ”you
must continually test the data.” During a Q and A, someone asked Laura about
testing the data and she honestly said we don’t always have the time to test
because we have to execute.The comments
on social media were hilarious. Laura voiced what attendees were thinking, but
no one had the guts to say publicly. There were a lot of heavy hitters there,
it would have been easier to say we test until the cows come home, but she
didn’t because we don’t.
What would you want to
announce to her here on this blog? Laura:Dana, you’re
my favorite sisterJ.
Laura may already know this, but this long and layered relationship of ours we
call a “sister act” is just getting started. Our mission is much bigger than
the both of us and I’m looking ahead with enthusiasm to see where it takes us.
I couldn’t imagine a better partner for the task.
Some artists are nervous about framing their watercolors. As the
paint dries, it can leave ripples in the paper, making it difficult to work
So, we talked with three professional artists for their tips on
framing watercolor paintings.
How do you
mount a watercolor when matting?
It all depends on the paper, says Tom Sorrell,
watercolorist and president of the Toledo Artists’ Club. He prefers 140-pound
paper, and stretches it before he paints to prevent ripples. He then uses
high-quality framers tape or linen
hinging tape to attach the painting to the mat.
Sometimes, Tom chooses Yupo, a water-resistant synthetic paper
favored by watercolorists because of the textures it allows after the paint
dries. When mounting Yupo, he sticks with Lineco
“Yupo tends to expand and contract more than
other papers with changes in the temperature, so it's important to leave 1/16
to 1/8" between the edge of the Yupo painting and the adhesive portion of
the mounting strip,” Tom said. “With Yupo, the painting is mounted to the
backing board instead of the mat.”
1.Place a two-inch piece of tape on the back of thepainting. Half the lengthof the tape
should be on thepaper and half should rise above the top of it.
2.Flip the paper overand position
it on the foam core. Press the remaining1" of tape
to secure on the
3.Secure another two-inch piece of cloth tape
over the other piece of tape to form a
T shape. Press to secure.
How do you
flatten a watercolor painting that has rippled before framing it?
If your painting does ripple, there are several ways to fix it.
Aaron lays his painting face down on a piece of cardboard, spritzes it with
water, and irons the back until it dries.
Tom follows a similar system, but substitutes a stack of heavy
books for the iron.
McCracken, president of the Watercolor USA Honor Society, also opts for
books, but prefers not to wet his paintings.
he stacks at least 30 pieces of watercolor paper on top of the art. He then places
a piece of Masonite or Plexiglas on top, followed by the books. This helps
evenly distribute the weight over the painting.
you’re using anything other than paper for weight, be sure to put a piece of
paper over the painting to protect it,” Laurin said. “Also, the surface under
the painting must be smooth and clean.”
the rippling on the painting is severe, then Laurin will mist the back of the
painting with water before placing it under weights. He cautions to use only a
light mist so the painting doesn’t get too soggy.
How do you float a watercolor with a
uses Lineco self-adhesive linen hinging tape. Here’s his technique:
1.First, mount the painting to 1/8” or 1/4” foamcore or
mounting board. Leave a 1/2” border. That will give the illusion of the
painting “floating” above the mat.
2.To attach the painting to the foamcore, first
attach the linen hinge to the back of the painting and run the tape through a
slice in the foamcore. Use a second piece of linen tape to affix the first
piece of tape to the back of the board. Attach the painting to at least two
places at the top of the board.
3.Add additional loops of linen tape in the same
manner to prevent slipping, especially during shipping.
For these three artists, the benefits of framing their own work
far outweigh the risk of a tear or a ripple.
Some like the flexibility to reuse frames. They say they’re more
inclined to take a piece apart if they’ve framed it themselves and know exactly
how it’s been mounted. Others said they like the control of framing their own
art, and that they can ensure that dust and other contaminants don’t wind up
behind the glass.
But the biggest reason so many watercolorists frame their own work
“The reason I frame my own paintings is the cost related to
framing,” Laurin said. “It’s just basic element of managing the funds I have to
support my art business.”
When someone mentions watercolor
paintings the general thought is the very simple, pastel landscape that you
might find in your grandmother’s house. Usually a bright pigmented, photo
realistic, painting on plastic paper doesn’t come to mind. Luckily we have The
Ohio Watercolor Society Permanent Collection to break all of those stereotypes
for us. This collection is described “as a way to encourage the advancement,
understanding, appreciation, and awareness of the broad scope of watercolor
“The Ohio Watercolor Society’s
Permanent Collection comprises 37 paintings that reflect the quality, scope and
evolution of watermedia painting during the Society’s first 25 years and
include categories of abstract, collage, figurative, landscape, portraiture,
and still-life paintings,” mentionedThomas Sorrell President of the Ohio Watercolor Society (OWS). Pushing the
boundaries of watercolor media is something OWS strives for. Tom explained that
the board is considering enhancing the collection and trying to find new
criteria to use for this expansion “It would make sense to have some painted
with egg tempera or casein and to have some paintings that were done on
surfaces such as Yupo in order to show the breadth and diversity of watermedia
A little bit of background
regarding these paintings . . . the collection is comprised of artists that are
members of OWS and some eminent jurors of its annual exhibition. Each year from
1978-2001 paintings were added to the collection with money raised by OWS,
mainly through donations from members and friends. Some paintings were donated to
the collection by past or present members or their estates. The purchasing
of paintings stopped in 2001 mainly due to lack of funds so the collection was
then held in storage until last year when the Board of Trustees made a decision
to refurbish the paintings and to display them. “As it turned out, this was a
good decision . . .” Tom said, “The place where they had been stored was
flooded recently by several thousand gallons of water and mud from a nearby
construction project.”Tom mentioned
their current home is in a climate-controlled, secure storage facility (on the
American Frame had the honor
of refurbishing the collection in 2016 and currently have the paintings
displayed in the showroom gallery after almost a decade in storage. It was last
shown in Columbus in 2008 and this is the first time it has been displayed in
Northwest Ohio! Later this year the OWS Board has plans to use the
Permanent Collection to encourage and support watermedia painting in Ohio.
“Perhaps portions [of the collection] will be loaned to corporate donors for
several months at a time. It might be exhibited in whole or in part at various
galleries or museums around the State. Several paintings could be displayed on
a rotating basis with the opening of the Annual Exhibition,” Tom speculated. Whatever plans the OWS Board has for their
permanent collection we all know it will challenge the way we look at