In 2017 , I won the Judges’ Choice Best in Show award for the Tru Vue® Framing Competition. The award-winning piece entitled, “Eternal Remembrance,” a tribute project in honor the Granite Mountain Hotshots. I’m proud that the piece drew the interest of many of my fellow framers for the hand-carved detailing of the frame and my choice of subject.
Eternal Remembrance honors 19 firefighters from the Granite Mountain Hotshots who perished while fighting a blaze in nearby Yarnell Hill in 2013. This elite force was specially trained to fight wildfires and were known for protecting the juniper forests indigenous to the Prescott area.
Most of the people in our small community were impacted in some way by the loss of these firefighters. Being on the Hotshots was a part-time job, so these guys were a part of the community in other facets as well.
I had thought about what I could do with framing to commemorate the Granite Mountain Hotshots, but it wasn’t until Tru Vue announced the theme of the 2017 Framing Competition – Tru Frameable Moments™ – that the inspiration for the design came to her. It was a competition where shadowboxes are often used, but I decided in the direction of the two-dimensional orientation.
The reason why I chose not to do a shadowbox because I wanted to capture the more human element with photographs. I wanted people to be able to see the guys themselves.
My frame is by no means traditional. I began with a reclaimed nine-inch slab of juniper wood in honor of the Hotshots’ mission. As a custom framer, I’ve developed a reputation for my woodworking skills and using wood carving chisels I did most of the work by hand. The only section of the woodworking where I used a scroll saw was for the contours around the flags.
I left the outside perimeter of the frame rough with the bark of the tree and treated the carved part with a stain to enhance the weathered look. The entire frame was covered with a lacquer spray for preservation.
Making a Mark
To honor the men, I engraved the names of the 19 fallen hotshots on laminated wood mounted to Optium Museum Acrylic®, and then illuminated the engravings from the back with a LED light strip. The strip is set to a channel. The back of the laminate is also wood, enhancing the golden quality of the light that is meant to represent an eternal flame.
An inner frame holds the two photos of the men. At the top is a photo of the Hotshots in a pyramid formation in front of a juniper tree they saved during a previous fire. The color photo, which was taken with one of the firefighter’s cameras, captures the energy and camaraderie of the group. Underneath this photo is a black-and-white image by Rhonda Snyder of the fence in front of the Hotshots’ training facility that became a memorial place after the tragedy.
From a visual standpoint, the inner frame serves as a fillet, giving the piece a more finished look. In terms of function, the Larson Juhl Ferossa Iron frame is mounted with L brackets so that it can be removed, part of the design that allows for easy changing of the light strips. The laminate panels on Optium Museum Acrylic can be slid out to access the light channel. The photos are also glazed with Optium Museum Acrylic.
The Greatest Satisfaction
At the top of the frame is an insignia featuring a flame on one side and a snake and staff on the other, flanked by the United States flag on the left and the Arizona state flag on the right. At the bottom is the Latin motto “Esse Quam Videri” which means “To be, rather than to seem,” representing the genuine sense of commitment these firefighters demonstrated for their mission.
As my first time entering the Tru Vue Framing Competition, I was excited to not only have a piece at WCAF, but to receive the Judges’ Choice Award. Having the opportunity to share my story of the Hotshots was also important to me. After the awards were announced, people asked about the Hotshots and told me how moved they were by the story and the piece. This was the greatest satisfaction, and I’m proud that I was able to Raise My Glass and honor them.
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