One of the biggest attractions at Tru Vue® booth at the 2016 West Coast Art and Frame Expo was a piece created for us by Kosal Eang, owner of Framed by Kosal in Monroe, CT, and a past Tru Vue Framing Competition winner. This amazing 8.75-foot x 4.75-foot piece not only demonstrated the benefits of Optium Museum Acrylic®, but it also showcased how ingenuity and craftsmanship can take custom framing to new levels. In this post, Kosal talks about how the piece came together.
For this past West Coast Art and Frame Show, Tru Vue asked me to create a piece using Optium Museum Acrylic to display in their booth. I love a challenge, so I was excited to be able to do something that not only demonstrated the benefits of the glazing but also pushed the boundaries of what people expect from custom framing, because there really is so much you can do.
The only direction Tru Vue gave was to make a piece that featured standard acrylic on one side and Optium Museum Acrylic on the other to show its anti-static and anti-reflective features. Everything else was up to me.
What is Optium Museum Acrylic?
Many of you may know this information, but the features and benefits of Optium Museum Acrylic were the main aspects to consider for this project, so a quick a refresher is key to the overall design strategy. Optium Museum Acrylic is a top choice of museums around the world. This premium acrylic is being used more by custom framers for framing static-sensitive materials like textile, charcoal, and pastels. Because it is shatter and abrasion-resistant, the product is a good fit for high-traffic situations or pieces that are frequently moved. It is also ideal for over-sized pieces and shadowboxes, like the one I created. Optium Museum Acrylic also offers the gold standard of 99% UV protection.
My vision for the piece began with the challenge of working with bits of polystyrene foam on the interior of the frame. I had seen Tru Vue use foam to demonstrate the anti-static benefits of their acrylic glazing, but with a piece of this size; I realized I needed to add something to generate movement within the frame. It was important to me to do this in a way that was also artistic.
My solution was to add fans inside a shadowbox, creating airflow that would show how the foam sticks to the standard acrylic because of static on the left side in contrast to the right side that is free of any clinging foam thanks to Optium Museum Acrylic.
The addition of the fans was a tricky step. My first thought was to use flat fans, but a Google search ultimately led me to fans used to cool computers, which had the small size and high power I needed. My team and I installed fans at the bottom of the frame, out of view, and angled them in different directions to generate the swirling airflow that would add just the right kind of movement from an artistic standpoint.
I am not an engineer, and we were unable to test at this scale to experiment in advance. So some trial and error was involved in putting the piece together. For example, on our first try, the build-up of air inside the piece pushed the glazing right out. We realized that we needed relief space at the back to let air escape and regulate the airflow.
Starting with a full-color photograph, from one of my regular customers, of a woman offering a peach to the viewer, I modified the image to make it grayscale but retain the peach color of the fruit and the woman’s nails. Knowing I would be using the foam pieces, I added white dots to the photograph to create synergy between the art and the movement within the frame.
I enlarged the image and added pixels to print with clarity at a size of 8 feet x 5 feet. To create the impression of the image spilling out of its boundaries, I printed a second image of the same size to cut for use as the mat, a challenge in itself due to the size of my mat cutter. There is a one-inch gap between the mat and the image in order to fit the fans.
The piece features three frames joined by Larson-Juhl to save time. A wood frame with pronounced grain takes the inner-most spot, surrounded by a wider white lacquer frame. The outer frame features a hand-rubbed silver finish. Together the three frames achieve the contrast of sleek and organic that suited the photograph.
The aluminum divider in the center marks the transition from standard acrylic on the left to Optium Museum Acrylic on the right. The divider serves an additional functional purpose of avoiding the bowing that occurs when acrylic glazing of this size is joined.
Blurring lines of framing & art
Though custom framing is meant to enhance a work of art, I like to blur the lines between the framing and art a bit. In this case, I was able to be really creative with the design and make something that is not only three-dimensional but also kinetic. You can do a lot of really amazing things with custom framing.
In total, the project took 42 hours to complete and a couple of very late nights with a team of people to help. The opportunity to have full creative expression made it worth the effort.
For more information on Optium Museum Acrylic, click here to visit our product page.
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This article is intended for educational purposes only and does not replace independent professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinion or position of Tru Vue or its employees. Tru Vue does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented.