A modern twist on picture framing

Private Property South Africa
Anne Schauffer

From a collection of bottle tops to vintage spectacles, a wedding gown and shoes, there are many fascinating stories out there about the wide variety of items that have been framed. Remember when framing something was more functional than artistic? Now the frame and its contents can be unusual, quirky, decorative and sentimental.

Greg Hayes, Stepping Stone Studios, is an artist and printer who has framed many interesting items over the years. “Once, as a school fundraiser, we framed a tennis racquet, signed TV camera lens filters and sweatbands – all from the same tennis player. We printed a large photo of him and used that as the background on which to place the artefacts. We created a box frame between the backer board and the glass to allow for all this.”

As box-framing has become increasingly popular, Stepping Stones can now frame flat artworks to give them a 3-D look. Greg says a variety of materials are used for the frames. “We often use recycled crating wood for a rustic effect, or reprocessed wooden floorboards. We’ve also used window frames to frame an artwork and even an old tea tray.” A carpenter’s ruler also made a superb frame for sepia photographs/memorabilia.

Modern trends favour simple frames and natural woods combined with painted edges. Greg uses kiaat, oak, beech and rosewood combined with white, black or grey edges.

Most requests are for simple, minimal framing, using square frames and no mounting. “We’re using the backer board as the mount; it’s more economical. We can also attach different materials to the backer – textured wallpaper, pressed plant leaves or reed wallpaper – and put the image or item onto that. This works well when you have decor in mind because you can choose the colour of the backer to complement colours in the space.

“Some objects are definitely better framed than left in a cupboard gathering dust or being eaten by fish moths,” says Greg. “Framing a christening dress or a memorable sporting shirt allows one to enjoy the piece more and conserves it from the ravages of storage. We’ve just box-framed a few of the original voting posters from 1994 with Nelson Mandela on them for the ANC. We’re also framing some old swords passed down as family heirlooms.”

Greg also recently framed a painting of a tree using the wood from the tree in the painting.

There are numerous considerations, but there’s little doubt that preserving memories in a creative way looks good and feels great.

Tips for creating a gallery wall:

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  1. Decide how you would like to arrange your artwork – a quick online search will give you plenty of inspiration.
  2. Play around with different frames to find the perfect selection to complement your decor.
  3. Outline each frame on a piece of paper, cut it out and then place the template on your wall using masking tape. This way you’ll be able to see how the arrangement works.
  4. When you’re happy, grab your tools and hang up your selected artworks.

This article originally appeared in Sunday Times Neighbourhood

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