Finding a Framer

Ron Eggers

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Forum Donor
Jul 6, 2001
I took a stab at this a year or two ago, and didn't get very far. There are lots of new faces here, so let's try again.

You have a friend, relative or customer that's moving to a different part of the country - perhaps an area that has LOTS of frameshops. As a person who has had a bunch of framing done, but has never been a framer, how would you recommend she locate a new framer?

Are there questions she should ask, affiliations or certifications she should look for?

It's hard to do this without thinking in terms of our own shops. Oh, sure, the framer should have 27 years experience, be a CPF and a PPFA member and a dog-lover and subscribe to FACTS. A Picture-Framing God would be optimal.

What would YOU tell her to look for?
Just how aggressive a search are they willing to make?
I would suggest that they visit a number of shops and check out the work before having any done.
Affiliation with professional organizations can be a filtering tool, but not all good framers belong and not all that belong are good framers.
Word of mouth is good. If they have acquaintances in the new location or make new ones through job, church, or other organizations there would be someone within that sphere that could help in their search.
If they were really into it, they could just take a piece of art to as many framers as they could manage and get ideas and quotes, but that sounds like a lot more work than most folks are willing to go through.
As a customer that has already had a "bunch" of framing done, she should already know some of the questions that she should ask when relocating out of the area that she has had framing done in the past. Particularly if she has had the guidance and education of a "framing god" to help her make informed decisions regarding framing, she should be armed with much of the knowledge to critique new frame shops.

Titles and acronyms go only so far to qualify a framer to do quality work. Many of us don't have any initials or titles after our names. That doesn't preclude us knowing the correct procedures, proper materials, and have some kind of design capabilities to properly house this person's images and collectibles.

Of course the YP's and Chamber city directory would be a good place to start looking. I don't see any silver bullet that would make the search for a framer that meets her needs any easier than getting out there and visiting as many frame shops in her new area as she feels comfortable with visiting.

Most professional framers who take pride in their products and services should have some examples of their work hanging on their shop walls. She can learn alot by examining them and asking specific questions about how they were built and the materials used. Framing is a personal job, in my eyes, and the framer should take an interest in what she wants done and be receptive to her needs and suggestions about where it will hang, type of light in that area, and ganeral environmental conditions of her home.

Real quality is very hard to hide in framing if it exists to begin with. If the outside of the frame packages are well done, designs show original thought, and the back of the frame package looks as well finished as the front, chances are that the framer is not going to go to all that effort to hide masking tape and cardboard inside the frame package. There are exceptions to every given but she should feel more confident dealing with a framer that has a good selection of frame samples, mat samples, asks pertinent questions about the piece, and takes an active interest in explaining to her what is going to be done with her framing to protect it and give her a finished package that she would be proud to display in her home.

We could spend alot of time talking about all the things to watch out for on the negative side of framing but I am sure that she is well enough educated in the basics of what she should know in order to make informed decisions about who to use and how to judge their general quality of work.

If her last framer didn't fill her head with positive thoughts about doing it right and possibly even introduce her to the concept of FACTS, I would question his motives in sending her out into this harsh world on her own with no weapons to defend herself! After all, we don't want to kick the fledglings out of the nest before they can fly, do we?? :D

I'd check out the Grumblers in that area. :D
Susan, that was my first thought, but apparently there are no Grumblers in the Aiken, S.C. area.

I did get lists from a couple of vendors (about 20 shops) and I cross-referenced them with the PPFA list (about 4) and the FramerSelect list (about 1.)

It must sound like I'm going to a lot of trouble, but this happens a lot. For some reason, when people retire around here, they often move far away.

I'm not sure why.
There is an excellent paper conservator in Columbia, and she has a framer that works with her. I would think that with the $ in Augusta, Ga. there would be a handful of good framers.

Could be that the winters are milder and the summers aren't all that different (if they are golfers, they can play 10-11 months out of the year). Cost of living is pretty low, don't know how it compares to Appleton, but their dollars might just go a bit farther.
Ron -- I know there are several reputable shops in Aiken; some of my customers live there and have some of their things done locally, but not sure who they use or why. Give her the 4 PPFA shop names you have and she should be able to tell alot about them just by dropping in to visit and look around. That would be my strongest advice to a relocating customer -- go see what they look/feel/smell/act like. Look CLOSELY at what is on the walls. "Waste their time" with 10 or 15 minutes of conversation about their business, or how they would have handled a special project you have had done before, and see how welcome you feel.

Augusta GA / No. Augusta SC is only about 20 miles from Aiken and will be a place where she will probably travel to shop/dine/play anyway. Columbia SC is only about 45-50 miles, and lots of Aiken folks work & shop here as well.

Wally: you mention
There is an excellent paper conservator in Columbia, and she has a framer that works with her.
Who are you refering to? Always interesed in an excellent person to suggest to clients.
Originally posted by Ron Eggers:
...I did get lists from a couple of vendors (about 20 shops) and I cross-referenced them with the PPFA list (about 4) and the FramerSelect list (about 1.)...

It really sounds like you've answered your own question with you "filtering" system. I use those exact qualifications when asked the same question.

I've always had a three point answer... (Get all three correctly, and the customer is probably on the right track.)

1) PPFA membership (tells me the owner cares in which direction the industry and their business is headed) FramerSelect membership also tells me that as well.

2) Owner/Manager is a CPF. (tells me that this person cares about their own direction.)

3) Look around the shop / entrance. Is it clean? Organized? Well lite? If the staff doesn't care about the little things at the entrance, then they may not have time to care about the "little things" in your framing.

Look around the shop / entrance. Is it clean?
Now THAT hurts, John.

If that were a priority for this particular customer, I'd have lost her years ago. ;)

People still come in and tell my I'm incredibly well organized, but it's usually the ones who are trying to sell me something.

I do think that professional affiliations are meaningful in that they demonstrate some level of commitment. We all know PPFA members who are framing morons and non-members who are excellent framers - but it's a start.

I was startled how few PPFA member shops in the Aiken area have a CPF owner. Again, I don't think being a CPF makes you a superior framer, but it's some indication that the framer didn't come on board last week.
Quote by Ron Eggers:

I was startled how few PPFA member shops in the Aiken area have a CPF owner. Again, I don't think being a CPF makes you a superior framer, but it's some indication that the framer didn't come on board last week.

I went through the "Talking Phone Book" and found a total of 44 Art Galleries and 22 Picture Frame shops listed from Fort Walton Beach East to half way to Panama City (about 30 miles). There was not a single "CPF", "PPFA", or any other designation mentioned on any of these yellow pages listings!!

Now I am fairly sure that there has to be at least 1 or 2 members of the PPFA and surely there is a CPF somewhere down here! I wonder if these people went to all the trouble to earn a CPF designation or joined the PPFA and not make it a point of advertising this fact??

If I had a CPF after my name, I would ensure that every parcel of advertising and business correspondance would carry this designation. This makes me give some serious consideration to boning up on the study materials and going for the CPF exam in the near future. I don't have a strong art history background and feel that this may be one way to broaden my knowledge of the whys and wherefores of the period frames and art originals that brought us to this place in time.

How much emphasis is placed on the history of art and framing on the CPF exam? I could simply check out some art history books from the library but I could get 2 benefits from the CPF study and still learn some of what I lack now.


I will set a challenge
….one of my goals for this year is that I will become a CPF the first in Ireland
and possible the British Isles…..Oh gosh that will mean a trip to the US :D …which will I chose…Atlanta or Chicago
….or both :D …….decisions…..decisions :rolleyes: ….I don’t think the PPFA have an online facilities for the CPF yet…

Anyway the challenge is which of us can make it first…….or we could sit beside each other for the exam and cog (copy) each other…

I took the exam last June. I recall little if any questions related to the history of art or framing. The exam concentrates on preservation framing materials and techniques.

There is a fair amount of "calculation' type questions. Things like "how many 32 x 40 mat boards will you need for n 8 x 12 mats?" Or, "Given the following profile (picture with dimensions) and a wholesale cost of x.xx per foot, how much would it cost to make a frame m x n?" These are not exact, but give you an idea. As I recall, the study guide has sample questions that are fairly representative.

The PPFA has a poster available that I keep meaning to purchase which is titled something like "the history of frame moulding in America." I keep thinking that that as a framed display might give some nice "history" and meaning to some of the customers selections.
FramerGuy, here is a typical CPF exam question. (Don't worry about history.)

You are at the Cracker Barrel with two friends. One of them orders the chef salad with a diet Coke for $5.95. The other has a tuna salad sandwich and an ice tea for $6.50. You order the Single-Guy's Special, which includes two pork chops, a half-chicken, a few slices of meatloaf and six sides. The total tab is $75.45. What is your share of the tab and how much tip should the three of you leave?

As you can see, the test is designed to simulate real-world situations.
You're on, Dermot!!

But only if you choose to take the test in Atlanta.

You will meet more Grumblers at the Atlanta show, Wally, Kit, Merpsmom (Cathie), Pamela, oh gosh, there are so many that attend that show! You may get to meet Deb Derbonne (c'mon Deb, you can ride up with Wally!), Ron, Markg1, maybe Charles if he can find his way (so you're not involved in framing anymore, T, so what??). I am almost sure that dns, Buddy, Barb Pelton, Don Zolan, and possibly the Framing Goddess along with Ellen, Jack Bingham, Linda Foote and Sue May, Mel, and maybe Nona Powers.

Jim Miller, Bob Carter, and John Raines will be there as educators, the gang from FrameReady wouldn't miss the show for the world (right Carol??), Bill Parker will be there in his new capacity as head honcho of PPFA, there are so many more that I guess I will just let them speak for themselves here.

You won't have the time to scratch your ......... uh, ear with all the workshops, the CPF exam, the trade show, and all the after hours get-togethers!! I promise you that you will have the most enjoyable trade show trip that you have ever imagined!! If not, Ron will pay for your plane ticket home!!
That is how confident I am that you will have a thoroughly enjoyable time!

Now, about this challenge, I am older than dirt and have long since burned out enough brain cells that I have to have a list of notes to introduce myself to someone else! :eek:

So, let's make a friendly little side bet: if you get your CPF before I do, I will present you with a genuine Key Lime pie!! These are made from tiny very tart limes, the flavor of which just can't be duplicated with regular limes! This is a sweet/tart custard pie that is normally topped with whipped cream and garnished with a twist of key lime.

........... If I get my CPF first, I have been craving 2 Irish dishes that I haven't tasted in over 35 years! One is an apple/potato pastry called "apple pratie" (sp?). If my memory serves me, it was a mashed potato type of crust with apple and cinnamon filling and was something that I thought was delicious back in the 60's. The other dish that I remember from your country was called pumpkin/ginger scones. This one may have been from England, but it seems like I had this in Eire. There are a bunch of other Irish dishes that I would love to hang on you if this all comes to fruition but they are hard to transport across the pond in a suitcase! :D

So, should we have a go at this?? I don't think that your chances of being beaten are too high as I have no clue what to study or how much preparation is involved in taking/passing the CPF exam. But it does sound like fun and we could always just share our "bets" with those at Pitty Pat's Porch on Saturday evening when we have our Grumble get-together.

So, the gauntlet has been tossed and picked up!!


(What have I just done????) :eek: (Oh, good grief!!)
Well, it took me from a little after 3 o'clock until just now to get the previous post done.

(No, I didn't doze off, I actually had a customer!!)

Ron, I can PASS a test with questions like THAT one!! Heck, I'd give the bill to Mark and head to the men's room, ................ easy, clean, and Mark is too nice to question my real intentions!!


Thanks for the site URL with the study guide.

Do they also have Cliff Notes? (or should I simply ask Cliffie for HIS notes??)

Has anyone taped the taking of the test? (Wait, that won't do me any good, it is a WRITTEN test!!)

Well, I'm sure that Dermot and I will do well regardless and we DO intend to have fun with this whole thing! Dermot, you have alot of really good dishes that I couldn't ask about in Ireland. That is the only place in the universe where I had corned beef and cabbage that was actually edible! I don't remember all the dishes that I tried and liked over there but I picked 2 that I did remember as being very high on the eating scale for me.



Boy, did we ever thoroughly trash Ron's "Finding a Framer" thread!!!

You are on…..I’m going for it……..I think I can leverage a good PR program out of been the first CPF in Ireland…

I will start honing my cooking skills…..and even though I say it myself….I’m not bad cook…..

I think it will be Atlanta…….and then the PPFA show in Florida in 2005…..I did spend some time in Chicago years ago…….I have never been to Florida or Atlanta…

Now what am I doing….Jean goes away for a few days (work she told me) to Malaga in the South of Spain……and lets me loose to do this sort of planning…….my revised business better start generating more business……what with a new Morso and Underpinner today ………and a new Fletcher mount cutter at the end of the month (that’s if Fletcher can get some machines to Ireland)…..awell I suppose I could always get a Keen Cut…….shucks I’m having great fun today and isn’t that what it is all about….

Anyway things are good at present…..I feel I have things back on track after a difficult year or so.

I want Ron to be able to find a CPF in Ireland :D
Ok men, I see you have a bet going. Are you two both going to take the test in Atlanta? If you are then I think I shall try also. I am younger and naiveeeer so I will have to study harder. But if you are going to do it there let me know and I shall start studying, and saving money. The test can be taken on site I presume???

Well, I am looking in the future and I see a bald guy in Portsmouth,Va with a bit of a belly and a nifty little three letter do dat after his name. And I know it has nothing to do with a doctor.


ps I am not a dessert baker person, but I can make some mean veggy dishes if we are on. I am real good with pastas, pizzas, and make some killer twice baked potatoes.
Money permitting, I will POSITIVELY be in Atlanta this year! I miss the G'ers I met in 2002, and look forward to meeting some new ones.
Besides, I never did get to the Fox Theater in 2002! Although I WAS present at the Great Omni Flood...

Oh, I also understand that Pamela is picking up the tab for the whole crowd at Pitty-Pats this year!
What’s the chance that the PPFA might give us a Grumblers Group discount on some of us getting together to take the certification exam :D

……….blame Bob Carter,Jay Goltz and “Others” for this question I just have my business hat on at the moment :rolleyes:

I'm going to print this out and give it to my customer who's moving to Aiken, S.C.

I should see her on Saturday. She may just decide she doesn't really need any more custom framing. :D
Dermot, I expect she'll want to move to Finland for the WallBuddies and reindeer pizza.

I may consider that myself.
Several of us met Dermot in New York a couple of years ago. I want to remind you all that I probably won't be attending Atlanta this year, as I am hoping to be a non-shop owner in about a month and a half. Unless I decide to go down and just mix and mingle, someone else will have to plan the Grumble dinner this year. I hope someone will decide to take over-we do have alot of fun.