Fancy matwork demands

Sherry Lee

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Jun 25, 2002
Phoenix, Az.
Every now and then I read about framers doing fancy matwork.....Jim Miller just mentioned his charges for pen lines & watercolor work on a mat.

I have yet to have a customer ask me for any such thing! Where do you come by this work? How do customers know about it? I don't even think I've ever seen a piece framed with such delicacies!

Then there's french glass mats?, etc., etc. - it's all so bizarre to me, I think framer's out there really ARE getting too much adhesive release fumes!

I've often thought about taking a class in such subjects (sounds like fun), but fear I'd never use it. So.....please do share how any of you happen to get someone to order such things.
If they see it they'll buy it.

I didn't sell any Museum glass until I got the TV Display, now it sells, go figure.

If you put a sample up on the wall people will see it and ask if you can do that for them. If I describe a v-groove it gets complicated and the customer gives me the glassed over look. If I point to one on the wall the customer says, "Cool, let's do that for this one too!" or something like that!
In your southwest area you should be able to sell some great mat designs. It will add many more $ to your coffers.

The Wizard software has many great "southwest" designs. We believe in very subtle design elements however .......not too gaudy.
You can't sell what you don't show.

I just ordered and received Frank's Fabrics swatch books, sample mats and covered liners and am looking forward to working with fabric covered mats and liners. I also intend to stock decorative papers again and offer paper covered mats and liners also. With this added capability, I'm not limited to the mat board and moulding manufacturer's offerings.

If you only showed oak ready made frames, you probability would never sell custom size gold or silver leaf frames. Customers most often don't know what they want even when they request certain treatments. They are often not aware of the possibilities unless we suggest them.

Another way to suggest tasteful, yet more elaborate treatment of an item is to take digital photos of your work and put up a slideshow presentation on a monitor in your showroom. If you link these photos with keywords, you can call up specific treatments to show how you have handled similar projects in the past. I myself have yet to do this, but intend to as soon as possible. I've been taking photos of every job on an ongoing basis.

Dave Makielski
Dave: Do you have some kind of special area set up with lighting to photograph the pieces? I photograph finished jobs now and then (the special ones), and I always have to pull out the black fabric for the background, and find an angle that won't reflect the flash, while not distorting the frame too much. It would be nice to have a kind of semi-professional setup, but I don't have the space to devote to this function exclusively.
:cool: Rick

When I want to photograph a particularly good piece, I assemble the piece minus the glass with a couple of framer's points and take the photos without the glass. I have yet to figure out how to take photos with glass without the reflection problem.

It doesn't take alot of extra time and the photos will pay dividends in bringing in new jobs when you show your customers the possibilities of creating outside the box.

Most of mine comes from referrals, but we also have samples of different techniques hanging in the shop as well as a book of our past work.

However, you actively have to design with this kind of thing in mind. You can't sell it to the client if you don't put the idea in their little pointy heads! :D We only sell the extras if we think it will enhance the artwork, though. In the immortal words of Brian Wolfe, "nothing exceeds like excess!".
Photographing Your Artwork by Russell Hart
North Light Books, Cincinnati Ohio is the best book I've seen on how to photograph art with glass on it. I found it in an art supply store but I don't know if it's still available.

I used to teach a class at SDSU for artist's called "How to Present Your Art, After the paint is dry, then what?" and I have a section on photographing art which agrees with Hart's book.. It is how all of the photos were done that I have in my books, slide shows and articles.
Sherry ;
We have Cross stitch supplies in our shop as well as Framing. We belive that most Cross stitching needs some sort of decrotive matting. To those ends we deliberately hang shop models of the most interesting or newest stitching patterns. When we do we also do the nicest ( most decrotive,normally combination cuts or carveing or both) mattings that enhance the models.( you can check out some of our models in the design section of TFG. Every pictuerd frame I show In BUDDY'S Gallery of TFG designs was or is hanging on our wall.and when they are removed we keep a phot alblum of them and the "one of a kind" clients bring home)
None of these models are for sale but they do generate a lot of copying and interest.We frequently are told "I want my needleart to look just like that one on your wall".We have learned to not use any matting that we do not want to duplicate and to also price the fanicest ones so that they are worth repeating.
When I first learned to frame from Herb Carithers in Jackson ,Mississippi,he always told us "You need to tell the customer what they need,because they don't know".so have examples of EVERY kind of matting you care to sell and "tell your clients what they need" and then show them. I Gauronteeee if you do they will ask for each one you show.
Nona, ya beat me to it. I have found the one and only thing better than Hart's book: a photographer who memorized his book. She also brings me about 8-10 photos each year and a budget to play with. Some we talk about, others I get to just play. It's the best of the world for me. I can take my snaps, or I give her a call, and with in a day or two, we're in her studio.

Sherry, an old addage is: What is on your walls, is what you're selling. Try to explain to a customer what a closed corner frame looks like.

Dave should be soon rockin' with the corner samples from Frank's. When people see fabric and then see matboard, more often than not, the texture and visual feel will over power the budget. AND, make a happier customer in the long run.

Make samples, even if they are just corner samples you hide under the table.... no, on second thought, get a little "sloppy" and leave them laying around.....on the design table.

People LOVE to snoop on what the last person was getting..... :D
Part of the fun of framing is learning new techniques. French mats, fabric mats and liners, I taught myself to do. I took a class one of the trade shows and learned the basics of gilding and taught myself how to apply the technique to mats, as well. I was thrilled when I found out I could do faux Brian Wolfe mats on the Wizard-I never could do those suckers by hand.

Once you learn how to do something, you will be looking for someone to sell it to. Learn some of these skills, and you will be able to offer designs and ideas your competition might not.

If you know how to do something, you will want to sell it. If you show samples, you will sell it.