We love hearing from framers about how they design framing packages for unusual projects. In this post, Meg Glasgow of Finer Frames in Eagle, ID, talks about how tackling the largest project of her career pushed her ingenuity with design and materials.
Earlier this year one of my favorite long-time clients gave me the biggest challenge of my career. He brought in a rare 125-year-old buffalo hide coat that he had purchased at an auction which he wanted to preserve, protect, and display on his wall.
As much as I like exploring new territories in framing, I was a bit perplexed by this project. The coat was large, heavy, and shedding. Its age and collectible value meant that it needed to be in the most protective environment possible, and its weight and size meant that the framing package needed to be sturdy. The fact that it would need to be shipped to my clients home, which is 350 miles away from the shop was an additional consideration. Plus, the vintage coat is a stunning piece and required a frame that would be equally impressive.
In order to address the above needs for this unusual framing project, my engineer client and I collaborated to find the best design solution. We had conversations for weeks about the design, which became a very complex process.
We came up with was a framing package that works much like a cabinet. The front panel is on hinges, providing access to the interior. The back is a 3/8-inch plywood wrapped in oatmeal linen from Framing Fabrics. We designed it to screw into the wood wall in the client’s home with a cleat hanger at the top and screws hidden behind the coat.
With the hinged door and overall weight of the piece, Optium Museum Acrylic® was the only choice for glazing. This product not only offers conservation grade UV protection, but it is also an anti-static acrylic. Beyond the lightweight benefit of an acrylic glazing, Optium Museum Acrylic® also helps prevents any further damage to the coat by shedding, as the fur will not be pulled away from the coat by a static charge. On top of all this, it’s abrasion and shatter resistance features, made it the best glazing choice for where the piece would be placed, in a high-traffic area in the client’s home. The clarity and lack of reflection allows the viewer to see all the exquisite details of this 1890s coat.
The coat was placed on a leather-wrapped coat hanger on a railroad spike hook mounted on the back. This simple but ingenious hanging solution gave the piece the right support and weight distribution, and allowed it to be displayed without compromising the coat. The railroad spike was a perfect choice for this piece given the role of the railroad in the history of the American West. In fact, my client expects to use the remaining space in the frame to add more collectibles from that era.
A handcrafted touch
Right away my client chose the Cinto Frame from the House of Mercier. Their leather-wrapped frames, and especially the Cinto with its tack detail, was a perfect match for the piece. House of Mercier is in Lima, Peru, and handcrafts amazing Peruvian leather frames and furniture. Though I have worked with them before, never did we collaborate on a project like this.
When the truck arrived with the 48”x 72”x 12” frame that had traveled 7,000 miles to my shop Finer Frames in Eagle Idaho, the driver was spotted looking for our loading dock. Because we didn’t have one, we ended up having to uncrate the frame in our parking lot and carry it into the shop. Fortunately, the crate was also available to safely transport the frame up to Montana.
Because the coat was in delicate condition, we knew it wouldn’t make the trip inside a frame. We also didn’t want to mount it in a way that compromised its condition. The leather coat hanger and hook was an ideal solution, as we were able to place it in the frame after it was installed on the wall.
I was able to be there for the installation on July 4th, and it was quite a moment that drew the attention of friends, family, and neighbors, which was perfect, because we needed many hands to make the work lighter.
This project took nearly three months from design to installation, but it was a welcome challenge that I will never forget.
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