GOING TO THE EXTREME WITH CUSTOMIZATION
An article about Mira Bishop, Oliver Brothers co-owner and award-winning custom framing designer, was featured in the May-June 2019 issue of Art World News, a leading publication in the art and framing industry. The article, “Going to the Extreme with Customization,” highlights some of Mira’s complex custom framing projects. Among the projects is a never-before-used floating frame technique invented by Mira to showcase a drawing on a napkin. Also highlighted is a framing “in the round” project created to display both the front and back of an antique map. The article details some of the information included in Mira’s lecture “The Design Process” presented at FRAMECON 2019, Worchester, MA.
“According to Mira Bishop,co-owner of Oliver Brothers,some framing projects allow for framers to stretch their design skills and craftsman-ship when a customer brings in something that re-quires an approach that is custom to the extreme. ”
GOING TO THE EXTREME WITH CUSTOMIZATION was originally published by the Art World News in May- Jun 2019 issue LINK.
It is the design process that often differentiates a custom framing business from its competition. When customers are thrilled about the designs of their pieces, they generate repeat business and referrals for a framer, so it makes sense that this aspect of a framer’s business deserves a great deal of focus.
According to Mira Bishop, professional designer and co-owner of Oliver Brothers, a nearly 170-year-old art restoration, conservation, and custom framing business; designs fall into one of three categories. A good portion of a custom framer’s or designer’s work falls into the decorative design, in which the subject and the framing components are equally important, or conservative, where the subject is the focal point. But there is a third category that really allows for framers to stretch their design skills and craftsmanship, and that is when a customer brings in something that requires, or is best served by, an approach that is custom to the extreme.
“These are often the most challenging projects designers and custom framers face, but they are also the greatest showcase of what custom framing can bring to a piece,” Bishop says.
Objects or works that are unusual in size and/or shape are obvious candidates for extreme customization. Sometimes a customer brings in a piece that is delicate or contains a material that requires careful consideration of how it will be protected. Framing a significantly valuable piece often requires a highly custom approach, not only for protection and preservation but also for display. It is likely to be the centerpiece in a room or something the customer wants to draw attention to in another way.
The front, above, and the back, right, of the double sided frame
created by Bishop of Oliver Brothers for an antique map.
Sometimes a piece represents all of these aspects —high value, unusually shaped, and important for display. Bishop recently framed such a piece for a customer. It was a doublesided antique map that documented battles and invasions in Britain and Ireland from the Norman Conquest of 1066 to the Spanish Armada of 1588. The piece also featured fine, colorful detail on the map side and small text on the opposite side, which required extreme clarity for viewing. Because both sides would need to be displayed, the mounting needed to be different from the standard wall hanging. It wasn’t long after the customer brought the map in that Bishop realized every aspect of framing the piece would need to be customized.
For this frame “in the round,” Bishop worked with Goldleaf Framemakers to devise a base that held the frame in place, upright and with both sides accessible for viewing. The weight of the piece required the base to be heavy and sturdy, and two bolts run through the base and into the frame to keep the frame stationary.
The frame, also from Goldleaf Framemakers, is gilded on both sides, and the bevels on the handwrapped silk mats are also gilded, the rich tone serving as a complement to the vibrant colors of the map that have endured over time. For the glazing, Bishop chose Optium Museum Acrylic® for several reasons. “The 99% UV projection Optium Museum Acrylic® offers is necessary for such a valuable antique, its clarity and reflection-free surface maximize the viewing experience, especially for a moving piece,” Bishop says. “As an acrylic option, it also reduced the overall weight of the piece.”
In this piece, Bishop used the iconic Mona Lisa image
and combined authentic barnwoodb with polished metal.
Another way a designer can customize a piece is by using an unusual combination of framing materials that match the uniqueness of a piece. A clock featuring the classic image of the Mona Lisa keeping time with the modern twist of a revolving eye was another opportunity for an extremely custom approach. Bishop combined authentic barnwood from the backwoods of Texas with polished Renaissance metal, merging earthiness with elegance.
“Just as the clock juxtaposes the realms of classicism and modernism, my frame juxtaposes materials from two different spheres,” says Bishop. “The warmth of the wood contrasts with the sharp tinge of the metal, and the combination results in a sophisticated but comfortable contemporary design.”
Contrast figured prominently in another piece Bishop framed with a highly customized approach— a photograph by world renown photographer Christophe Avril of a part of the Berlin Wall that had been turned into the East Side Gallery, the only authentic monument to the reunification of Germany. This piece captures part of the work of artist Christine Kuhn who created a mural by offering passersby the chance to leave their handprints on the wall, a powerful idea born of the contrast between the graffiti-filled west side of the wall and the blank, stark east side of the wall before the fall.
The photograph is printed on aluminum, setting the rough background of the wall in the photograph against the smooth surface of this medium. Bishop used Museum Glass® for the glazing for the clarity it brings to this piece with multiple textures.
For the frame, Bishop worked with A Street Frames to modify its number 705 Flat Iron Raw moulding, welded and finished with F-bolts at the corners, for an industrial look. To achieve texture in the matting, she modified a matboard using sand and styrofoam kernels in the paint. The overall result is a frame that reflects the heaviness and harshness of the Berlin Wall contrasted against the warmth of the human hands in the photograph.
When it comes to delicate, very few objects present the same level of framing challenge as a drawing on a napkin. But after having in her possession a hand-drawn portrait on a napkin from a prominent artist in the early days of his art education, Bishop decided to frame it.
The frame construction was dictated not only by the task of working with such a fragile piece, but also because of the proportional balance required in the design. Bishop took a minimalistic contemporary approach that put the focus on the art. Her design involved floating two seamless Prisma frames, which gave the framing a sense of softness and airiness to complement the subject. But this necessitated a structure that had never been used before. After several rounds of trial and error, working with Bella Moulding, Bishop created a custom backing system.
In color, too, the design achieves a minimalist aesthetic to draw the viewer to the lines of the drawing. Both Prisma frames are of the same warm gray with a hint of texture on the inner frame for subtle visual interest. A filet gilded with a touch of red surrounds the drawing. For protection and clarity, Bishop chose Optium Museum Acrylic.
Bishop will describe these projects and others in greater detail as part of her course, “The Design Process: How To Impress Customers With Designs They Will Love,” at FRAMECON 2019, held June 9 to 10, at the DCU Center in Worchester, MA. Visit: https://neppfa.wildapricot.org/ for more information on this event held by the New England Professional Picture Framers Association. For more information on Mira Bishop’s work, visit: www.oliverbrothersonline.com.
GOING TO THE EXTREME WITH CUSTOMIZATION was originally published by the Art World News in May- Jun 2019 issue LINK