Vintage Frames

Often people come in to the shop wanting their older artwork re-framed. Sometimes the artwork has been poorly framed, and has been damaged as a result. Other times, the framing itself is just out of date… and a style that will never be back.

But once in a while, the frames that customers want to replace just need a bit of TLC. They can be cleaned up, re-finished, painted over, and re-used.

One of my favourite things to do is to rescue an unwanted frame, and find a perfect piece of artwork to fit into it. Sometimes, having a mirror made to fit the frame is just the ticket.

Here’s a piece that was actually taken off the backing of an old piece from 1902. It’s the framer’s stamp from The Rowley Gallery in London. Which by the way is still alive, kicking, and producing beautiful frames. – Since 1898!  The moulding used to frame the framer’s stamp was the moulding that the framer in 1902 used to frame the original piece (that the customer today wanted re-framed)… Still with me?

Admittedly, I’m a bit of a pack-rat when it comes to vintage frames. If I can find it a home, I will. – Even if I have to carry it around for a few months, store it, and wait to find the perfect piece. Here’s another example. A client brought in a piece and said, “I, don’t want the frame. You can do what you want with it…” So I hung onto it for a good six months. It’s a delicate gilt silver, drawing frame. During the six months or so, I found a small poster at The National Gallery of Ireland.

Here’s the poster of “The Wild Swans” by Harry Clarke painted in 1913. To me, this piece is a perfect match for this frame. The shapes in the piece, are echoed by the detailed corners of the frame, and make it seem they were made for each other.

So before you toss what maybe at first sight looks like a junky old frame; take a closer look. You might have a frame worth keeping.  And that frame might look amazing cleaned up a bit, coupled with the perfect piece you haven’t found yet…