Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Celebrating 45 Years of American Frame


As an artist, you put hours of work into one goal: getting it right.
You aren’t completely satisfied until the brushstrokes on the canvas or the images from your camera match the vision of your mind’s eye.

At American Frame, we understand that commitment

From our beginnings in 1973, we’ve had one underlying belief: that precision production, great customer communication and operating at scale can significantly drive down the cost of framing. That allows you and artists everywhere to frame more for less.

In the early 1980s, we moved from a series of small locations to our current location in Maumee, Ohio. We then changed our name from ASF Sales (Aluminum Section Frame) to American Frame.


By1991, founder Ron Mickel’s daughters, Laura Jajko and Dana Dunbar, had joined the team full-time. Ron retired in 2017, but Laura and Dana remain second-generation leaders today, making American Frame a 100% woman-owned business. Read more about our history here.

And we kept evolving, adding print-and-frame in 2003, and then professional photography services, an easy proQuickShop™ for fast ordering, and an online design workflow so people of any skill level can create the perfect framing treatment for their art.

Long before companies everywhere were touting their environmental consciousness, we developed several green initiatives.

Then, in 2015, we took our desire to help artists even further, opening a showroom and meeting space with hands-on classes, artist lectures, gallery shows, on-site order fulfillment, and much more.

We keep listening to our customers and adapting to their needs. The result? Four-and-a-half decades of success and countless happy custom framers served. 

Thank you for being part of the American Frame community. Here’s to many more years of getting it right.


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Nature, Untouched: Our American Hardwoods Collection.

Part of being an artist is exercising restraint.

It’s knowing when to put the brush down or understanding why you should leave your subject’s scars showing, rather than covering them up.  

So often, less is more. That’s a concept we embraced with our American Hardwoods collection.

The beautiful details were already there: intricate grain patterns, gorgeous hues, and subtle color variations in a single piece of wood. All we had to do is leave them alone.

We decided against unnecessary stains, paints, and anything else that would mask the beauty of the materials. Some of the wood is aged or ebonized to highlight its innate characteristics, but, for the most part, we think Nature did a pretty good job on her own.

Our customers agree. American Hardwoods have been among our best-selling frames since we introduced them in 2001. Artists love the way they let them bring the outside into their homes and galleries. That’s why they use them for everything from pen-and-paper drawings to canvas paintings.

And there’s substance behind the style. Each frame is made of 100% solid wood from trees grown here in the United States. Understated maple, elegant walnut, rich cherry, and bold ash don’t just look great, they’re sturdy enough to last for decades.  

Another aspect of restraint is ensuring that we’re not harming the environment that produces the wood we need. American Hardwood frames are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, meaning they’re sourced from responsibly managed forests that provide economic, environmental, and social benefits.

Our solid wood frames are versatile enough to fit seamlessly into any d├ęcor, and grand enough to lend a professional look to your art. They’re just as at home in a gallery setting as they are showcasing your family’s photograph in the living room. And since they’re available in small and large profiles, you’ll find the perfect size for your framing project.

Have questions? Contact us.

It's Easy Being Green: How We Reduce Waste

Nature has inspired artists since humans first began expressing themselves. And, as we covered in last month’s feature story, the Plein Air movement is based on painters capturing outdoor scenes.

So, part of our commitment to artists is doing whatever we can to keep the environment pristine, preserving the natural beauty around us so it can serve as a Muse for future generations who seek to interpret it through the brush or lens.

Enter our green initiatives. We partner with brands that share our Earth-friendly values, and we count on the three R’s - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle - to run as green as possible, not just on Earth Day, but every day.

Take our suppliers, for instance. We choose mostly American-based companies that manufacture their materials in compliance with reforestation practices and other U.S. environmental standards. When we do import products, we hold overseas companies to the same standards, choosing “green” materials whenever we can, and opting for recyclable products such as cardboard packaging rather than Styrofoam.

Like all companies, American Frame generates production waste. But, we limit it as much as possible by producing naturally low-waste products, such as Nielsen™ metal frames. Unlike wooden frame stock, which sometimes includes knots and other imperfections that require the entire section to be discarded, metal frames have more useable length.

Then comes the recycling. We distribute our metal dust, and acrylic, paper and wood scraps to other companies that use them during their manufacturing processes.

We look for opportunities to reduce the energy we use as well. Our main facility has a white roof, naturally cooling the facility in the summer and warming it in the winter.

To prevent certain materials from ending up in landfills, we’ve placed large recycling bins around our offices, and we encourage our employees to deposit used papers into them instead of in the trash. When we have leftover frames and mats, we donate them to local schools and art programs. We also have a “Free Bin” full of over-runs in our showroom.

Some reduction efforts expand beyond our own brand. We participate in UPS’ Carbon Neutral Fund, certified by the CarbonNeutral Company. For every UPS shipment we send, American Frame donates 5 cents (for ground shipping) and 20 cents (for air) to environmental projects designed to offset the carbon emissions from that shipment. That has earned us the CarbonNeutral seal that comes on our packages. Learn more about projects funded by the UPS Carbon Neutral Fund here.

So, every time you shop with American Frame, you’re making an investment in our environment and the beautiful art it inspires.

Our April Employee Tip

Every month, American Frame employees will share some of their favorite tips and tricks to help you on your framing journey. Here’s one from Tom Peters, a member of our Printing Team.


“A print is only as good as the image it’s reproducing,” he said. That means you should make sure an image is fully edited to your specifications before uploading it to our website for printing.

Tom offered this checklist to ensure your image is ready to upload.

·         Is the subject in focus and the lighting sufficient?

·         Have you cropped your image to reflect the way you’d like to see it in the frame?

·         Have spots on the lens or scanner left any marks on your image?

·         Does your image have a high enough resolution to support the size of the print you want? (You can check by dividing the number of pixels in your image by the size you’d like to print in inches. That equals the resolution of your image, in pixels per inch. The professional standard for printing is 300 pixels per inch.)

·         If there’s any doubt about how your image will look, order a proof. We offer color and resolution proofs of any image you upload on any paper you choose, then ship it to you for a flat rate of $7.50 per proof.


Have more printing questions? Contact us and we’ll be glad to assist you.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Choosing the Right Acrylic Sheet for Your Project

For protecting your artwork, we trust acrylic sheets over glass. They preserve your work and reduce glare without the risk of breakage. Professionals and galleries also love it because it’s lightweight, shatterproof, acid-free and distortion-free. But the acrylic sheet you choose depends on your project and budget. Here are the kinds we carry, and their recommended uses.
Standard Acrylic
This style is acid-free and shatterproof with slight UV resistance. It’s 3/32” thick and great for most projects.
Non-Glare Acrylic

Acid-free and shatterproof with a non-reflective 1/8” thick matte surface that minimizes glare. This style is especially suited for art with fine details that could otherwise be obstructed by a glare. Not recommended for shadow boxes.
UV Protected Acrylic

Acid-free, shatterproof and 3/32” thick with maximum UV resistance for conservation projects, such as antique photographs, old newspapers, and art you want to protect for years.
UV/Non-Glare Acrylic

This product is the ultimate in protection for your finest artwork and cherished mementos. Acid-free, conservation quality, and 3/32” thick shatterproof plexiglass that filters out 98% of UV rays.
Caring for Your Acrylic
The point of acrylic is to protect and display your art. So be sure to avoid common glass cleaners, which can create a haze on it and obscure your art. Instead, use a soft cloth and our acrylic cleaner or just plain water.
Have more questions about acrylic sheets? Contact us.

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.



Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Change the Frame: Nielsen Twilight in New Colors

To illustrate the effect a frame can have on a photograph or painting, here’s one image presented in several colors of our Nielsen® Twilight frame.

Because all the frames are the same style, they share a clean, modern feel, but notice how the color of the frame dramatically impacts how you perceive the art.
Cool blues are a natural choice to highlight the white snow, as well as the grays, blacks, and silver tones of this winterscape.
It’s true in love and in art: opposites attract. Draw your viewer’s eye to your work with a shock of color that accentuates the stark neutrals in this piece.

Add glamour to an understated image with an elegant gold tone. This Twilight frame in Antique Gold helps the photograph stand out in a forest of black frames.
This blue-gray shade highlights the gray tones in the piece and enhances the cool, wintry feel. 

Tornado Red
White, black, and red: it’s a classic color combination. The daring color contrasts the absence of color in this snowy scene. Your eye is drawn to the art, and you can almost feel the chilly air yourself.

Purple Haze
It’s amazing how much a frame can change the look of a piece. With the addition of the playful purple, this image turns less somber and more inviting, practically demanding you to build a snowman.


German Silver
This shimmering frame draws out the subtle silvers and grays in the picture, and enhances its frigid feel.


Shiny Rose Gold
Like the gleaming of a gold hue? Try rose gold as well. It provides the same opulent look with an added warmth, increases the level of sophistication, and invites the viewer in.
Which hue works for you? Order your Twilight frames here.

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, March 1, 2018

Our March Emloyee Tip

Every month, American Frame employees will share some of their favorite tips and tricks to help you on your framing journey. Here’s one from Lindsay Wooley, Customer Engagement.


“Order samples,” Lindsay said. “They’re the best way to know exactly what you’re receiving. If you’re trying to decide between a few different frames/mat boards/plexiglass, seeing the difference in color, finish, or texture in person can help make your decision.”

Ordering samples is easy. You can order as many as 5 free 2” sample chips of all our frames and mat boards. Place orders for picture frame samples by clicking on the 2" Sample Free button on the frame details page just above the frame image. For a small fee, you can buy corner samples as well.

Order mat board samples from each product level detail page or in
full sets.

Have questions? 
Contact us and we’ll be glad to assist you.
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