Tag: custom framing

We were honored this past August to have a hand in preserving a very significant and special piece of history. The letter, dated 1920, contains a seal that holds pieces of lead from the “bone box” which held and transferred the bones of “probably thirty Pilgrims who died in Plymouth two hundred and fifty years ago.” The writer eloquently stated, “In looking at this piece of lead you will visualize the entire compass of American history starting with a handful of stalwart men on Plymouth Rock, to a nation of 110,000,000 people.”


These relics were brought to us by a passionate historian to be framed for display by the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, and more importantly, preserved for coming generations. The piece will initially be exhibited at the Mayflower Society House for the 2017 Pilgrim Congress. This assembly meets every four years to elect its Governor and officials and honor its 30,000 members across the globe.

Our MCPF Valerie Becker considered the aesthetics of the display venue in the design process. It was suggested that the finished piece should be quite grand, and we were excited to deliver! The design features an exquisite Larson Juhl Biltmore Collection frame, and a complementary Nurre Caxton fillet surrounding each mat opening. Two solid and pure cotton base mats add support and depth, further highlighting the significance of the relics.

Our Master Framer left no stone unturned when it came to considering the archival preservation of this piece and the materials involved in the project. Extensive care was taken to ensure that these historical objects will remain protected from dust, UV light, acid producing papers, material gasses, and other elements that cause deterioration.

We are humbled to be given this opportunity and experience. Our customers’ passions are OUR purpose, and we are grateful to have such wonderful, interesting, and meaningful projects to share.


Our customer (center) posed with the Curator and Assistant Curator at Pilgrim Hall Museum.

To call Dave a history buff is an understatement. “I’m here with my latest treasure,” he says each time he stops in with a new project. As a treasure hunter, Dave has researched and collected the historical postcards, artifacts, and photographs of the City of Red Wing for many years.

As a retiree of the Northern States Power Co., Dave is a fan of the old electricity mascot, “Reddy Kilowatt.” He boasts and extensive collection of historic media, mementos, and relics.

Dave discovers many of his treasures on Ebay. When he finds something of interest, he conducts research at the Goodhue County Historical Society to ensure its legitimacy.

Dave has framed several newspaper ads, tintype photos, military certificates, and most recently a playbill from the Red Wing opera house, which burned down in 1882.

When it comes to framing, Dave is no frills–preservation is his game. His aim is to ensure history “will be around for future generations.” As museum quality framers, we are proud to help Dave achieve his goal.


One of the most common questions we receive from customers during the design process is “Should I have a mat?” followed by, “How much mat will show?”

The answers depend on several factors, including the type and size of the artwork, archival and mounting requirements, current trends, and of course, customer preference. Our design team, led by Master Certified Picture Framer Valerie Becker, is experienced in crafting the perfect mat design for each custom project.

Some artwork requires matting so that it may be properly mounted for museum quality preservation within a frame (yes, we do that). Delicate artworks with holes, torn edges, or unsightly borders may look incomplete without matting. Art prints with wide paper borders may be improved with a single or double mat. Sometimes a mat is unnecessary, even being a detriment to design. This sweet needlework for example was completed with a border that served the framing composition perfectly without a mat.

According to industry expert Chris Paschke of Designs Ink, professional framers and designers typically follow proportion and ratio guidelines such as maintaining mat margins that are wider than the width of a frame, avoiding “stripes” by using wider mat margins and by varying widths of extra mats and art borders, and ensuring “breathing room” for matted artwork (2001). Paschke suggests that contemporary designs demonstrate wider mat dimensions

The first image below represents a “gallery style,” with a wide and thick white mat—plenty of breathing room for the little fox. To make more sense of this concept, consider the wide mat as a wall in a room with the fox image hung on the wall. Would you look first at the plain wall, or the fox? A little Photoshop magic shows the fox again with a thin mat. Although the image is larger, the thin mat and frame start to look “stripe-y” which can be distracting to the eye and add a subtle confusion.


One alternative to the “wider mat” guideline is when a piece of artwork is float mounted. This type of design is characterized by an artwork that sits on top of, rather than under, a mat. In these designs, it is standard practice to maintain a small mat margin as seen to the left in this pastel by a customer’s little granddaughter.

Extra mats and specialized fabric mats use color and texture to enhance the framing design. The print below by Andy Warhol is matted with bright base color that accentuates the artwork’s “Pink Lips.” The dramatic blue suede mat atop the ship draws the eye to the artwork by gently contrasting the art’s highlights.

The most important rule of matting, however, is that there are no hard and fast rules. The overall goal of framing is to enhance the artwork, and to draw the eye to the artwork or object(s) being framed. Much discretion on how that is done is left to the eye of the designer(s). As Paschke notes, “Some framers have a natural eye for identifying a design that fits, and this is often why some designs appear much more successful than others” (2001). Experience, training, and a discerning eye for aesthetics is a large part of the formula for “right” matting. (We’ve got those covered.)

We are happy and excited to compose your project with you, and we guarantee our designs. Stop in or call to schedule an appointment to work with MCPF Valerie and her team!


Paschke, C. A. (2001, June). The essence of design: Proportion. Retrieved April 30, 2017, from DIP Online website: http://www.designsinkart.com/library/D-EssenceofDesignProportion200106.htm


In 1918, an upside-down biplane was mistakenly printed on the 24 cent airmail stamp. Only 100 of the original stamps were sold, and they are valued among philatelists at around $100,000 per stamp. Normally, a print inspector or postal clerk would have caught the misprint immediately. However, the clerk who sold the original sheet of inverted jenny stamps said, “How was I to know the thing was upside down? I never saw an airplane before.”

In 2013, the USPS reprinted the famous and rare inverted jenny to the chagrin of hardcore stamp collectors. According to USPS policy, “Postal Service employees should refrain from intentionally creating philatelic rarities.” Agency watchdogs suggest that the post office violated its own code by recreating rare stamp in order to make money.

We aren’t really philatelists, but we know a good framing subject when we see one. Our inverted jenny sheet is floated and matted with TrueVue museum glass and a Superior Moulding frame.

Read more: HERE and HERE

In the framing world, a fillet (typically pronounced “fill-it”) is a super small frame with a reverse lip that fits inside a traditional frame or under a mat. Fillets can provide extra flair or dramatic enhancement to a frame, or incorporate an additional level of showcasing to a piece of art.

You may notice that the ornate fillet around pastel madonna adds a touch of elegance to the rustic style frame. Our 1st place chapter winner featured a blue frame fillet matching the bold blue in the needlepoint. Finally, the beautiful Belle is displayed with a bold mat rimmed in a delicate fillet, giving her design the right amount of sass to match her personality, per the owner.


Fillets exponentially grow the creative possibilities of framing design, and as we always say, the more creative options the more fun to be had!



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