Emotional Framing Project


PFG, Picture Framing God
Nov 21, 2005
Carson City, Nevada
I really love being a framer, but sometimes it gets to me. Yesterday a woman asked if I could frame a football jersey by Friday. No-one else would do it. I said no, not enough time to order frame, etc. Then she told me it was to be given to the parents of a 25-yr-old young man for his memorial service, it was his Pop Warner football jersey. I sent her to the local BB to find a large ready-made shadow box frame and told her I'd do it. She brought it in and it was awful, she paid $100 for it, and it had scratched plastic instead of glass, and the frame was all scratched up, but she said it was the last one they had, a 24x30.
I looked in my archives of moulding and found a 24x30 shadow box black frame unjoined (where did that come from??) and told her to take the ready-made one back and get a refund and we'd use the one I found.
So tonight I stayed late to work on it and it's really gotten to me. The jersies I've done before are all huge adult-sized ones. This one is kid-sized. I have a 25-yr old daughter, I guess that's one reason it hits home so much. In fact, while I was working on it, I called my daughter just to tell her I love her.
My heart aches for those parents, and for all the framers who told this lady they wouldn't do it, I'll just say they missed out on an opportunity to be grateful for the children we have. It was a quiet and pensive evening, working on that jersey, a lot of reflection and a few teary moments. And a lot of satisfaction knowing I might've helped a little, in a difficult time. Sigh...
...there are more definitions of "profit" than monetary.

(Oh and Val, I know where it [the frame] came from... "who knows but that you are here for such a time as this")
Hi Val
I had a similar experience, I was ask to frame a soccer shirt that a 30 year old man had collapsed and died in whilst playing in a game. Little did I know when it arrived that the para medics had cut it from bottom to top and side-to-side. I don’t think I made much on this one but I was told how much it meant to his mother to see it hung in the clubhouse, and it made it all worth while. kalta
I did a shadowbox that opened from some debris from the World Trade Center.

The client had lost his cousin and brought me items to showcase for his Aunt. It had to be hinged so she could touch the pieces.

At first I was excited for the challenge of mounting and designing such an important project and somewhere along the way the my mood and the mood of the shop changed greatly.

We all became reflective and somewhat upset.

It was by far the most incredible project I have done but I wouldn't let anyone take pictures of it. I felt it is a private thing for their family and did not want it to end up in a portfolio.

I also didn't want to be around when they picked it up so I stayed on my shop side and not the nice showroom side when they arrived.

Didn't work she came around to my side, didn't say a word and hugged me.

It took all I had not to start crying like a baby, but it will stick with me forever.
Val... How quick we are to say "no, can't do it by that date".... because that is under normal circumstances. I have turned cartwheels when it is for something as significant as yours is/was. But sometimes the customer is reluctant to say the reason for it at first... but once you know - you know in your heart of hearts - you have to do it and will do it!!

Never in a million years could I ever turn away, the "funeral requests".
I always took extra, extra special care, and sometimes got a few tears in my eyes when they came to pick up.
It just means we are good humanbeings!

These are a big part of the "why" when people ask about why we're framers. We've had the honor of doing a number of these type projects - usually there are tears and an odd sense of quiet, honor and decorum when we work on these projects. They don't go in the book - but live in the memories forever.

On a lighter note, last week I had another one where a lady brought in 8 badges and a certificate on Tuesday morning, to be finished by Friday! Her husband had retired after 32 years with the Highway Patrol on Jan.27th, but then her mother passed away the next day and she forgot about the badges that were to be presented to him in a surprise ceremony on Friday. Everyone else had said no way, one framer laughed, said he was having his anniversary sale and couldn't it wait until next week? (!!) Please-oh-please?? How could I say no to that? Couldn't. She paid for it up front.
We made it barely under the 1:00 order deadline, and I ordered the frame chopped and joined. It needed a silver fillet with the frame. She found 2 more badges and brought those in on Thursday. Got 'er done by late Thursday night.In my haste of worrying about getting it finished on time, I forgot to figure in the cost for the fillet and the extra labor to mount all those badges, but kept it to myself...learning expense, I guess. She cried when she picked it up (I had tears too!) and then called on Saturday to tell me how much it meant to him. Sigh....I love this job.
And yes, it is an honor to do them.
I'm touched by these stories...thank you for sharing them with us.

Most of the time we have memorabilia or photos brought to us there is a story behind them...we don't always have the benefit of knowing the entire reason these are special items to our customers, but they are...

By preserving these items we are helping our customers preserve their memories.

Dave Makielski
Am right there with you guys. I can't tell you how many times I've stood at the counter and cried right along with the client, besides usually shedding a few while I'm working on the project. There are a couple very special ones that I had the honor to work on, one being the cross-stitched "Fireman's Prayer" for the lost firefighters of the WTC. The organizer in New Jersey sent me all 200+ of them, opening that box and seeing them was a bit overwhelming to say the least.

So Val, job well done.....I salute and raise my glass to you.

Framers are an emotional lot. Would anyone object to my using these stories (without names, of course) in my next customer newsletter?

Most of my customers have become pretty good friends. I think they'd love to hear some of these stories.
We get emotional jobs like this from time to time.

2 years ago a young boy (I think he was only about 8 years old)was hit by a train and killed. One of his family members brought in a little jersey of his that they were going to hang in his school in his memory.

It was difficult to work on that one because the jersey was so small and the same size as my own son's.

Sometimes people come in and need a picture framed in a rush for a funeral or such - and if we are able to just use scrap pieces we will often just give it to them at no charge. We don't like to make a profit from people who are at thier worst.

Today - a customer came in (who'd only been in twice before) and was telling us that his wife died from Cancer. They'd been married for 30 years, and her mother was insisting that he give everything back that she ever gave them!! pots and pans to sheets!! Can you imagine that! Apparently she somehow blames him!

Anyways - it just made me think (once again) that people don't need bartenders - just good framers! LOL!!

THis is a great topic - thanks for starting it!
they need the GOOD bartenders too.

When we get the "children" stuff in, I have to do the work. Shar just looses it.

When it's a pet..... I never do the work after 8am.
I'll go in at 6am and turn the music way up so I can hear the crying.

We carry so much of our customers in our hearts and souls. It makes our lives so much richer and full. I just can't imagine retiring.
Betty, it's fine with me to include our stories in your newsletter. People often ask why I love being a framer so much...these stories are why.
They came in to pick up the jersey yesterday for the memorial service today. We all had wet eyes. They were giving it to the boys parents. They told me it was particularly hard because he'd been murdered! They were still trying to find out the circumstances.I can't remember a framing job that has affected me as much as this one has. Maybe because I have a daughter the same age, maybe because my heart has gotten softer over the years. All I know, is I'm glad I could help, and will continue to do so whenever I can. That's why I'm a framer!!