Framing is one of the hottest topics among needleworkers. Everyone has had, or knows someone who has had, a disastrous experience with a professional framer … including me.
The only thing sadder than losing a project through a framing disaster is robbing yourself of enjoying your finished projects when you allow them to languish in a box or drawer because you are afraid to trust a framer. Ever. Again.
So, what can you do?
If you belong to a stitching group (in person or online) ask for references. If it’s an online group, avoid asking generalized questions and be as specific as possible, especially when asking about the big box stores. “Do you trust the XYZ Chain in My Hometown to frame your needlework?” is better than “Which chain does the best framing.” I say this because….
It’s the Person, Not the Store
Your needlework will be framed by a person, or two, or three. So the first thing to ask is “Are you the one who will be doing the framing?” If yes, make note of her name. If not, ask if you can meet the person who will do the framing. Next, you want to know about her training and experience. “How long have you been doing this?” and “How did you learn?” are good questions. Work them into the conversation rather than making it sound like an interview. Frankly, you want this person to buy into the fact that you are trusting her with your precious project. Seriously.
Build trust by first taking a small project to be framed. All too often, I see stitchers who only use a professional for an elaborate project that took months, if not a year or more to complete. Not a good idea, unless you know for certain that people YOU trust have come to trust this framer.
It’s Okay to Test
So, you know you want an acid-free mounting board and acid-free mat. Or, if you are not using a mat, you know you want a spacer between the needlework and the glass. Give the framer a chance to tell you that this is their standard treatment for needlework. If it doesn’t come up, ask a question: “What do you use for mounting?” rather than stating what you want. And if the answer is not acceptable, this is when I would leave the store. You should not have to tell a reliable framer to use acid-free products when framing needlework!
Is the Framer Listening?
It is not a good sign if you say you want a traditional frame and something edgy is presented. It’s not a good sign if you say you have a budget and the only choices presented are the big ticket styles. It is a good thing to say what you want and to have the framer show you things in that range as well as alternatives. You want a framer who has a good eye. He may see the piece in a new light that you find refreshing. However, it IS your project and you need to be sure you are making the decisions. It is not fair to say after the fact, “Well, this isn’t what I wanted but the framer said….”
Know Your Boundaries
Is it okay with you if the piece is sent off to another location? If not, ask if everything is done right there. Do you care how long the process will take? If not, ask. If the time it will take is longer than you find acceptable, ask if there is any way to shorten it. Maybe the frame you chose is a special order. Ask if there are moldings in stock or styles that she can get in less time than the one you chose. Do you absolutely want museum quality glass? Make sure it’s available.
Be a Responsible Customer
In this technologically advanced age, it’s easy enough to take a photo of the molding and mats that are chosen at the time of your order. When you pick it up you can be sure it’s what you ordered.
Leaving your needlework to be framed requires that you trust that a good job will be done. When you get to the point where you can leave the piece in your framer’s hands and look forward to picking it up with never a moment of worry in between, you know you have one you can trust!
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