Handmade Museum Quality Frames and Frame Restoration

We wanted to highlight the range of frame options we are able to provide.

Here’s a recent Otto Palding (1887-1964) winterscape that we made a custom frame for. It’s a Modernist American Step with primitive qualities that make is similar to a Hicks Frame and that we think make it aesthetically match with the subject matter. We used black and yellow clays, and finished it with white gold. The painting measures 34″ x 20.”

 

This antique frame had extensive degradation to the ornamentation caused by dehydration and buckling. Molds were made from composition and then casts were used to reintroduce the lost ornamentation. New gesso, clay, and gilding married the new portions to the old. Micro vacuuming removed surface contaminates.

 

Custom 22K Duch Modernist frame prepared for a long-time client and local artist, Dawn Stafford. Basswood is cut to dimensions in our woodshed with a custom blade and then mitered and joined. Sanding prepares the surface for gesso, and then clays and a touching of steel wool finalize it before it comes to the studio. Gilding gives the frame a decadence and interplays with the tonal aspects of the subject matter. Basswood is one of our preferred wood types as it is usually devoid of resin and thus favorable for gilding.

ALBRECHT DURER WOODCUT OF SAMSON RENDING THE LION FINISHED

Part 1

After water baths and a treatment in the heat press, this woodcut by Albrecht Durer (1471-1528) was dried with blotters, a lengthy process that took several months. This allowed the paper to carefully stretch back to its original size, a critical step for repairing the middle section where the tear had occurred and left incongruous edges. But, once the paper was back to size, these edges had good alignment, and this helped create a seamless rejoining.

Where paper losses had occurred, new paper was added with similar qualities. In-painting concealed the areas of loss.

A new Austrian/German frame in dark mahogany was prepared, and the print covered with museum glass, a premium type of glass that is exception with delicate images as well as causing minimal to no glare.

To authenticate the print, we compared known Durer woodcuts at the Snite Museum of Art at Notre Dame as well as the Grand Rapids Art Museum. We found the watermarks to corroborate with ours, and thus, verified it as an authentic Durer woodcut that was made during his lifetime.

Albrecht Durer was born in Nuremberg, Germany on May 21, 1471, the second of eighteen children in the family of a master goldsmith. Fifteen of the children died at an early age and Durer’s mother was often sick, especially in the last years of her life. Although his father was not pleased with his artistic ambitions, at the age of fifteen, Durer was apprenticed to a painter.

Durer is arguable the greatest artist in German history. By adopting the new forms of the Italian quattrocento and connecting them to the already robust tradition of the German print, he almost single-handedly provoked the Northern Renaissance. He had an insatiably inquisitive mind and this led him to be an avid travel, which he started in 1490 before he was nineteen. Up to this time he had spent a four year apprenticeship with master painter and engraver, Michael Wolgemut. He then went to Colmar, France to work under Martin Schongauer, but it took him two years to reach Colmar, and by then Schongauer was dead. His wanderings across Europe included two trips to Venice that were capped  by a year-long sojourn in The Netherlands, where he was a celebrity among celebrities.

In moving from Nuremberg to Venice, Durer reversed a whole direction of cultural priorities. The center to which German artists had previously looked were Bruges and Ghent in Flanders, along with the northern Gothic style shaped there by artists like the Van Eycks and Hugo van der Goes. What fascinated Durer was Italian humanism and all that flowed from the discovery of classical antiquity.

Durer married Agnes Frey in 1494, and in the same year made his first visit to Venice. He would return there in 1505 and stay for two years. Meanwhile he built a great house which still stands on the castle hill in Nuremberg. Durer was a rather indifferent and rude husbands. On his own he took his wife’s dowry and setup a graphics workshop, the products of which his wife was tasked with sitting at the markets and fairs and trying to sell them. He seldom traveled with her and many years later, when he did take her on a trip to the Netherlands, he allowed her to accompany him to only one of the many banquets given in his honor. When they did stay at home, she was left upstairs to eat with the maid.

The success of Durer’s work led the way for other German artists, Matthias Grunewald, Albrecht Altdorfer, Hans Holbein the Younger and Martin Luther’s great friend, Lucas Cranach, all of whose work made Germany for half a century the leader of the Northern Renaissance.

Willam Aiken Walker Copper Plates in Custom Frames

Final steps to this project (Part1, Part2). A pair of new frames were made in a medley style, combining the strong border of the Louis XVI with the simple slope of the Low American Cove style. Picking up on the Americana of the South, the demi-centers received a basketweave design and the corners were accented with a sgraffito of cotton flowers with leafs. Treating all equal, man and woman alike, the two frames are identical, but with their own original charm that comes with anything done by hand. On the reverse, the copper plates came with their own harness system, and we incorporated it, securing it to the mount with wires in three places.

We’re a bit sad to see them leave, but are thrilled with how they turned out.

William Aiken Walker (1839-1921) was an American artist who was born to an Irish Protestant father and a mother of South Carolina background in Charleston, South Carolina in 1839.  In 1842, when his father died, Walker’s mother moved the family to Baltimore, Maryland, where they remained until returning to Charleston in 1848.

In 1861, during the American Civil War, Walker enlisted in the Confederate army and served under General Wade Hampton in the Hampton’s Legion.  He was wounded at the Battle of Seven Pines (1862).  After recuperating, he was transferred back to Charleston, where he was assigned picket duty, which gave him time to paint.  For the next two years, he made maps and drawings of Charleston’s defenses.  He was separated from the military at the end of 1864.  After the Civil War, Walker moved to Baltimore, where he produced small paintings of the “Old South” to sell as tourist souvenirs.

He is best known for his paintings depicting the lives of poor black emancipated slaves, especially sharecroppers in the post-Reconstruction American South.  Two of his paintings were reproduced by Currier and Ives as chromolithographs.

Walker continued painting until his death on January 3, 1921 in Charleston, where he is buried in the family plot at Magnolia Cemetery.

Gabor Peterdi, The Burning Bush

This painting, The Burning Bush, by Gabor Peterdi (1915-2001) came in with dirt particulates on the surface and an old varnish that was discoloring. Careful cleaning and vacuuming removed the surface contaminates and the varnish. This allowed the colors to pop, and make this abstract work even more dynamic. A new frame was prepared by us, a Dutch Modernist with white gold.

Gabor Peterdi was born in Budapest in 1915 and he died an American citizen in Connecticut in 2001. His studies began at the Hungarian Academy. In 1930, he won the Prix de Rome for painting. He continued his studies in Paris at Academia delle Belle Arti, Academie Julian, and the Academie Scandinavien. In 1939, with the threat of yet another war, Peterdi decided to move to The United States. In New York he received a one-man exhibition of paintings at the Julien Levy Gallery. Peterdi taught at the Brooklyn Museum in 1948, organizing the graphic arts workshop there. He was also a professor of art at Hunter College in 1949, and a Professor Emeritus of Yale University in the 1960s. Peterdi’s book Printmaking Methods Old and New was published in 1959. It continues to be the standard technical reference for both printmaking students and professionals. Peterdi was a great innovator of printmaking techniques. His devised elaborate ways of color printing by collaging copper plates. Over his lifetime he was accorded over 40 prizes, grants, and other honors. His work is included in the Permanent Collections of over 150 institutions around the world.

Glackens pen and ink with American Whistler Frame

This pen and ink drawing by William James Glackens (1870 – 1938) suffered from acid stains, due to the mount it was on, and a covering of dirt particulates. Once removed from the mount, baths of select chemistry were able to lift the stains, returning a clearer complexion to the drawing. Blotters were used to dry the artwork, as well as square the dimensionality of the paper and lay it flat.

Its new frame is a custom American Whistler with white gold, over yellow, red and black clay, which we think looks rather stunning with the drawing, and should keep the Sherwood Sisters happy and dancing for quite some time.

William James Glackens graduated from Philadelphia’s Central High School with John Sloan, and in 1891 became an artist-reporter for the “Philadelphia Record.” From 1892 to 1895 he held the same position for the “Philadelphia Press”. He studied with Thomas Anshutz at the Pennsylvania Academy where he formed a strong friendship with John Sloan, George Luks, Everett Shinn and Robert Henri; later he shared a studio and traveled in Europe with Henri. He spent a year in Paris where he painted many scenes of life in the parks and cafes.

Glackens settled in New York, worked as an illustrator, and in 1898, went to Cuba as an artist-reporter for “McClure’s” magazine of the Spanish-American War. He became part of “The Eight,” a landmark exhibition of urban realists, led by Henri, at the Macbeth Galleries.

The early work of Glackens followed Henri’s lead and maintained “strong ties to Edouard Manet’s darkened palette and brushy style of realism.” After 1910, Glacken began to brighten in response to his strong admiration of the work of French artist, Pierre August Renoir.

In 1912, he went on an extensive art-buying trip in Europe for Albert Barnes, a friend from high school who had amassed a fortune from an antiseptic gargle solution. Barnes built a huge home and museum in Merion, a suburb of Philadelphia, and established the Barnes Museum. The many works of Renoir, Degas, Van Gogh and Cezanne that Glackens purchased for Barnes became the center of the Museum collection. This project also firmed Glackens’ interest in the Impressionists, especially Renoir.

He died suddenly in 1938 while visiting Charles Prendergast in Westport, Connecticut.

 

Some Recent Frames We’ve Made

Here are some frames we’ve recently had the pleasure of making. Photographs show the process in reverse, and the captions have some insights into the process, but we thought the pictures should do most of the talking.

American Impressionist 22k frame for an oil and canvas by TC Steele (1847 – 1926).

 

American Impressionist 22k frame with Greek Key motif for oil on canvas by our good friend, Nigel Van Wieck (1947-).

 

Florentine High Front with white gold for watercolor by Vincenzo Loria (1850-1939).

 

Charles Dwyer Portrait of Girl with Custom Frame

This pastel and watercolor came in troubled by a few acid stains and loose pastel. A seal was applied to keep the pastel from moving, and chemistry baths neutralized the stains. Further protection was given by an archival mount and by incorporating oversized conservation glass. The frame is a custom Modernist Dutch with 12 karat white gold.

Born in West Bend, WI, in 1961, Charles Dwyer discovered his artistic leanings at West Bend East High School. Later he received a scholarship from the West Bend Art Museum and then went on to major in Fine Art at the Milwaukee School of Art and Design. He graduated as Valedictorian.

Directly after college, his work was featured in a one-man exhibition. With money saved from the show, he backpacked with friends through Italy, Austria, Germany and Greece. Dwyer recalls being most impacted in Vienna where the Austrian artists and the moodiness brought on by frequent rain moved him. To this day, the overwhelming beauty of Europe remains an underlying inspiration.

After his European sojourn, Dwyer pursued painting, conservation and restoration work in the Wisconsin. “This job was pretty influential in introducing me to all sorts of imagery and media like the spiritual, astrological, and classical.” explains Dwyer. “I did a lot of mural restoration, trompe l’oeil, marbleizing, and mosaic. This was one of the few jobs you could get and really apply your artwork skills to.”

Commissioned to create the official poster for Chicago’s ARTEXPO ’93, Dwyer has continued to experiment and push the borders of art making, most recently reinterpreting the techniques of printmaking and photography. His spectacular, original works on paper and canvas, which incorporate such diverse techniques as oil paint, pastel, collage, and fabrics, make Dwyer one of the most important living American artists of our time.

Unveiling of Portrait for Former Hope President Voskuil

The 13th president of Hope College, Rev. Dr. Dennis Voskuil, was appointed in 2017 to serve while a search was conducted for the successor to Dr. John C. Knapp, who left to become president of Washington & Jefferson College in Pennsylvania. President Voskuil began his career at Hope as an assistant professor of religion in 1977. He became an associate professor of religion in 1982 and a full professor of religion in 1988. He was tenured in 1983 and became chair of the religion department in 1984, serving as chair until 1990 and again from 1992–94.

Voskuil will be succeeded on July 1 by Matthew A. Scogin ’02, who was named president-elect on Dec. 7.

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.

It was our honor to prepare an American impressionist frame in 22 karat with a Greek key motif. The motif symbolizes the bonds of friendship, love, devotion, as well as the flow of life. The Rev. Dr. Dennis Voskuil is blessed with a joyful personality, which we believe is accentuated by the rich, resplendent quality of the gilding.

We are honored to have crafted all 13 of the frames for the Hope College presidential portraits. Here is a Holland Sentinel article that details the collection and the work we’ve done to it: Miller Fenwood completes Hope College art renovations.

Tiger Stadium Peanut Vendor Apron

This is an apron from Tiger Stadium believed to have been worn by peanut vendors. Grease stains were along the front and part of the embroidery had been lost. We cleaned the apron and re-stitched some of lettering to match the original. Vintage postcards from Tiger Stadium were placed with the apron in a new maple shadow box frame with a fabric mount.

ERNEST DREYFUSS STILL LIFE WITH MANDOLIN FINISHED AND FRAMED

Delamination issues caused large portions of paint to lift from the canvas of this still life by Ernest Dreyfuss (1903-1977). By a process of restorer’s adhesive and weights, we were able to delicately return these areas to the canvas. New linen was added to the reverse to provide a stronger foundation, which is going to help the delamination issue. The original varnish was old and it had yellowed. With it removed the natural and more vibrant colors reappeared, and a new layer of conservation varnish was applied.

A custom American Modernist Reverse frame was made with Spanish origins and gilded with silver.

Ernst Emmanuel Dreyfuss was born in Frankfurt, Germany on January 1, 1903. He trained as a painter and became a disciple of Max Beckmann and Ugi Battenberg. Dreyfuss survived Buchenwald and fled from Nazi Germany in 1940, spending a year in England, and then immigrating to the US in 1941. He settled in Hyde Park, Chicago, IL, where, as an eccentric neighborhood painter, he allegedly served as the inspiration for a character in one of Saul Bellow’s Chicago Stories. Dreyfuss ceased painting in 1971. He married and subsequently divorced Ms. Anne Battaglia, and was survived by one cousin, which at the time of his death in 1977 resided in South Africa.