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Celebrating Tru Vue’s 70th Anniversary with a Frame as Innovative as Their History

By Kosal Eang

If you visited our booth at the West Coast Art and Frame Expo in January, you couldn’t miss the piece created by Kosal Eang of our Tru Frameable Moment, our 70th Anniversary. In this post, Kosal talks about the design inspiration for the piece and his process for making the unusual design elements in the piece work.




The moment

As custom framers, we see Tru Vue® through its ads, articles and company news, which gives us a view of its finished products. For this 70th anniversary piece, I wanted to open a window to the story behind those products, a retrospective of Tru Vue’s history of innovation as a glazing manufacturer.



After my initial conversation with the Tru Vue team, I was inspired by the company’s innovation in glazing manufacturing, one of the reasons why Tru Vue has been able to survive in this changing industry for so long. It was important for this piece to not only celebrate this anniversary milestone, but also highlight various points in the company’s history when it raised the bar for the industry as a whole.



The direction I decided to take was to use the products and people to tell the story of innovation. Like most custom framers, I see Tru Vue from an outside perspective, and I don’t get to see what happens behind the scenes to make the products, which includes both the technology and the people involved.



The design

The design choices stem from this concept. Mimicking a window into the manufacturing side of the business. On a painted piece of 1/2-inch gator board I mounted ads from the 70th Anniversary campaign featuring employees who come in direct contact with products every day at Tru Vue. Several of them have been at the company for more than a decade.



Above the ads and through the window are items that tell the story of glazing innovation at Tru Vue. The first is a model of a piece of glass being dipped into a bath for the etched coating process used to  manufacture Reflection Control glass, the first non-glare glazing made specifically for picture framing.



To the right,  is a representation of the advances in UV protection. A UV coating sign with a red LED light placed behind symbolizes the heat that is used in the UV coating process to permanently cure the UV protective coating.  Tru Vue developed the process in the early 1980’s, setting the standard for conservation framing.



In the center is a monitor that plays a company video, highlighting the robust manufacturing capablities of its two facilities.  The video shows how Tru Vue transforms raw substrate, glass or acrylic, into the glazing products we use for framing.  The video first shows the UV line at their McCook, Illinois facility. Raw glass is loaded into line, travels down the coater and is packed into boxes.  It shows the use of robots, a high-tech quality inspection system as well as their UV line techs inspecting glass off the line. The video also shows the anti-reflective coater, at the Tru Vue Faribault, Minnesota facility as the glass travels down the line and enters the magnetron sputter chamber where the magic happens – applying the anti-reflective coating.



Directly to the right of the monitor is a model that represents one of the magnetron sputterer slots used to apply the anti-reflective coating to glazing.  Attendees at the show, were able to interact with the model by lifting the cover to view inside the magnetron sputterer slot.  Sytrofoam balls, blowing around in the air from an installed fan, represented the coating process inside the chamber.  At the far right, is the company’s Optium Museum Acrylic® (OMA) specifier showing the anti-static feature of the product, an example of how Tru Vue is still developing revolutionary new glazing products.



OMA is one of my favorite types of glazing because it makes so much possible in creating framing projects, including this 70th Anniversary piece. Framers can work with so many more options in depth, weight, and shape without sacrificing UV protection or clarity. Unlike standard acrylic, OMA is anti-static, making it easier to handle and clean.



All of these items, modeled after Tru Vue’s production lines, are mounted on pieces of 2-by-4 attached to the plywood backing, elevating them above the rollers. The UV coating sign and magnetron sputter model both incorporate OMA glazing.



My goal was to create a piece that evoked, as much as possible, the sense of a manufacturing facility. Watching videos of assembly lines gave me the idea of incorporating a roller-like structure into the piece, which are the rods you see behind the items at the top of the frame. These are wooden dowels painted in a dark metallic color to evoke an industrial image; they rotate using a motor and belt system that is hidden on the bottom part of the frame. Early in the design process, the plan was to add moulding around the window, but I opted not to maintain the industrial look.



The top and bottom rails of this structure are attached to a bottom frame, Larson Juhl Anvil in brown. A second frame sits on top of that, securing the gator board with the Tru Vue ads, the window and the acrylic glazing. This top frame is hinged to the bottom frame and features moulding from the Larson Juhl Zeppelin collection, which was also used to frame the monitor.



The hinged top frame was more of an aspect of function versus form. With so many working parts involved, I needed to create a way to access the interior. Originally, I wanted to avoid having to open up the interior of the piece because of the possibility of dust and debris getting in, but I realized we needed to do this for maintenance and transportation. Handles on the each side also make it easier to move. At nearly 250 pounds and with dimensions of 52 inches by 104 inches, we needed a way to lift and carry the piece safely.



We put this feature to use when we arrived in Las Vegas. One of the dowels had come loose in transport, and we were able to set it back into place easily. This feature really showcases one of the benefits of OMA over regular acrylic in that it is anti-static, whereas standard acrylic is like a magnet for dust and debris.



The rollers gave me the most challenge. There was some trial and error involved in getting that to work. I experimented with a printer belt and ended up using vacuum belts. My original plan taught me a lesson in engineering.



Originally, I had a single belt attached to all 13 dowels powered by a motor connected to the first dowel. The force, though, diminished over the course of the belt and each dowel ended up moving at a different speed. The answer was to attach belts for each dowel to a drive shaft at the center of the piece. After so much running around to make this work, every automotive and machine shop in my area now knows me.



It took 85 hours of solid building time with additional time up front for the design and experimentation with the dowels. Among the many details that went into it, I think what makes this project interesting is how framers can work with framing materials to create something that is unique. There are many framers out there who are just as talented, many more talented, and can make something like this. A project like this shows that custom framing is not just assembly.



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.

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