Textile of Washington at Mount Vernon

This family heirloom came in with a fungal invasion, and acid contamination that we believe to have been caused by a stretcher bar. Cleaning, drying, and pressing prepared the textile for an archival mount onto foamcore that was then covered with a single-ply linen mat. A custom frame in the American Hicks style with veneer and black corner blocks was prepared and then given archival glass to finish. Every family heirloom is unique, but this particular textile, with the restoration and custom frame, gave us the opportunity to impart our diverse talents, to what we know will be a cherished keepsake for many years to come.

Christine Sullivan Frames for New Show

We were very honored to work again with the artist Christine Sullivan, framing her artwork for an upcoming exhibition of Cape Cod seascapes. The exhibition opens July 6th, and runs through the 26th, and is at the Oils by the Sea / ROCCAPRIORE Gallery in Provincetown, Massachusetts. We’ve collaborated with Christine for the last three years, and have even designed a personal frame for her that we call the Sullivan Float. For this exhibition, some artwork was given that frame style, and others were given a Modernist Step. Both styles were given white gold.

Sullivan is a representational abstract landscape painter. Her subject matter captures the hard-working, celebrated life on the family farms of rural New York State and the fishermen’s life on the salt waters of Cape Cod and northern Florida. Geography has always been one of her strongest inspirations: “The . . . organic scents and earthy hues found close to the land and sea were embedded upon my soul at a very young age and continue to inform and influence my life and work.”

Hope College President John C. Knapp Portrait and Installation

The 12th president of Hope College, Dr. John C. Knapp, served from 2013 to 2017. It was a tenure that saw the launching of “Hope for the World: 2025,” a 10-year strategic plan to grow the college as a place of academic excellence, faith development, inclusiveness, and global engagement. He furthermore established the Presidential Colloquium lecture series that brings notable speakers to address national and global issues. And in 2016, the college joined the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan as an educational partner to bring international experts to the campus through the council’s Great Decisions Global Discussion Series.

The portrait artist was Larry Blovits (1936-). He is known for oil and pastel portraits, as well as landscapes. He has received numerous awards and honors in national shows since 1962.

We prepared an American Impressionist frame with 22 karat gold, detailed with a leaf motif, after the Twachtman style, and installed it professionally at Hope College. All but three of the frames in the portrait room were made by us, and the others we were restored by us. We are very grateful to be able to lend the portrait an esteemed quality, as well as an overall theme of tradition and excellence for the leaders of such an important and local institution.

Steve Nelson Gelatin Silver Print

Artist and Hope College professor, Steve Nelson, took this photograph in the UP of an abandoned iron quarry; this is a larger work with a frame size of 52″ x 43 1/2.” Gelatin silver prints are a general term describing the most common process for making black and white photographs since the 1890s. A variety of photographic print papers were introduced in the 1880s. It can be thought of as an in-the-camera technique that complements the wet plate process. The custom frame we made and designed with the artist is a Modern Gallery L-shaped frame with white gold, and includes a top mat but also a hidden reverse cut mat to give the illusion that it floats.

17th Century Drawing

This 17th Century drawing was probably intended to be a study for a shaped, final painting. The workmanship is superb, and shows great ability, but unfortunately the paper has not been handled with the greatest care. It is handmade paper laid with linen content, which is typical for early Italian sheets. The types of damage are numerous: water and ink damage, a fold down the center, pinholes where the artist likely secured the paper, insect invasion, deterioration, and asphaltum. The first step will be to clean and de-acidify the drawing. The asphaltum is on the reverse, and this will need to be carefully removed. For the areas of loss, caused by insects, chemicals, and aging, these will be replaced with paper consistent to the original. We are in the process of designing a frame, and are leaning towards an Italian style with a feather sgraffito.

On the left and right edge, there are stamps that appear to be household stamps that would have belonged to a wealthy Italian family and would have helped them to document their family items.

Catlin Restored and Framed

With a French mat prepared in the handmade manner: attaching watercolor paper to museum board and then with a ruling pen, creating lines and panels, and with watercolor washes incorporating color tones connected with the art, we gave this George Catlin (1796-1872) print an archival fit. A new American Impressionist frame with feather and ripple carving, gilded in 22 Karat gold, was created to complete the conservation of this magnificent print. We are very happy with the results, taking the artwork from a state of discolored foxing and staining, to accenting its qualities with a French Mat, and then making it the centerpiece of a grand and ornate, gilded frame.

George Catlin Catching the Wild Horse Cleaning

George Catlin Catching the Wild Horse

Oceanscape by Christine Sullivan

Stemming from a purchase at the Oils By the Sea Gallery in Provincetown, Massachusetts, a collector wished for a similar but larger oil painting by the same artist, Christine Sullivan. Sullivan is an artist we are very happy to have worked with extensively in the past, helping to frame her artwork, including the painting that fostered this commission.

Before the global economy, this was how much of the art world operated: a dealer brought together a buyer’s taste with an artist’s ability to create something very unique and tailored. A creative relationship was formed that was tied together by one more entity: the frame maker.

Due to Sullivan’s strong and developed style, and because the buyer enjoyed the frame for the smaller painting, we developed a similar frame called the American Step, and chose a 3-inch width with white gold.

This was a truly fun and rewarding collaboration that we greatly enjoyed and cherished knowing that these opportunities are very rare in today’s art world.

Weir Frame for Van Wieck Painting

Nigel Van Wieck’s (1949-) pictures are, in spite of their realistic form of representation, an unending source of fantasy. Animating stimuli also call for us to discover formal design principles, to create narrative links, to play through different possibilities and at the same time to always to shift our perspectives “Reality is much better when it is imagined”, the artist opined on his artistic intentions. But it is only through the elimination of distance, and opening oneself to the works that this new reality is unveiled and begins its delightful play of ambiguities and multiples meanings.

Nigel Van Wieck, who was born in the United Kingdom in Bexley, Kent, and received his training at the Hornsey College of Art in London. The artist turned to the Kinetic Art, a field in which he began to experiment with light, particularly neon light. Ever evolving, Van Wieck began to study the compositional use of light in the works of the Old Masters, and to gather inspiration for his own paintings. The artist cites the Dutch painter Jan Vermeer in particular as one of his great role models.

Van Wieck has been living and working in New York, USA, since 1979. An English style in his artwork is not apparent. Instead there is a strong influence from the American Realist artists, with whom he came in contact with after moving to America. At first it was the American Realist paintings of the late 19th century that impressed Van Wieck, but the strongest impression was Edward Hopper, whose art he thought was exemplary and in whom he perceived a kindred spirit. The comparison between the oeuvre of Hopper and Van Wieck has understandably often been drawn. In fact there are numerous parallels between Hopper’s often isolated and introverted figures who are caught in an urban malaise, and the equally singular figures in Van Wieck’s work. Moreover, the artists are united in their frequent depiction of empty places, in their clear compositional structure and in a fascination with sharp light and shadow effects.

The woman passed-out at a restaurant is a Van Wieck work that has its inspiration from a scene the artist observed. According to the story, the woman, after a fight, remained seated at the table until she fell asleep in a calm yet isolated reprieve. A deep sense of  disorder is somehow captured in this composition of straight tables, straight chairs, the long straight bar counter, and the liquor bottles standing like soldiers.

We prepared a custom Weir frame with 22kt gold, double-gilt to enrich the color. The frame has a warmness that accentuates the lighting in the painting and invites the eye into the composition. It is always an honor and rarity when a frame maker gets to work with a living artist and learn their style and use their own talents to complement.

 

Polk Osage 1958

Due to differences in the oil paints used for this work, the different colors dried at different rates. This created rifts in the paint film, also known as craquelures. This type of problem was common for Color Field painters, including Leon Polk Smith (1906 – 1996) before he switched to acrylic paints. Over time as these problems emerged, Polk was told to coat the work with varnish, but unfortunately this introduced another element which dried and contracted at its own rate.

Using the Dutch method we stretched the painting and carefully cleaned it and removed the varnish–the black field was where it was it the most troublesome. Linen threads were then added to the reverse to add strength, and heat and vacuum were used to flatten the paint surface.

The original stretcher bar was a fixed corner, a design that does not allow for adjustments to keep the paint film taut. A new stretcher bar was made as well a float frame that matched the style of the previous frame. The painting was then delivered and installed at the client’s house.