Sunday, 31 July 2011

A 19th Century compo frame

Here is another example (I think so anyway!), of a well designed compo ornamented frame, I especially like the scrolling pattern. I think this style was generally called a Lawrence frame, after the artist Sir Thomas Lawrence, although I don't know if he used this exact style. 
Some interesting articles by Jacob Simon on Lawrence can be found on the National Portrait Gallery site:

Thomas Lawrence and Picture Framing

Friday, 29 July 2011


I've never used air hand tools in the workshop, it's something I've been meaning to do for ages and with the imminent completion of the spraying booth, it was a good time to set up some airlines in the workshop. 
 Now we have an airline and two fittings (one oiled, one clean) going to the three benches in the clean area, a junction behind the compressor, and another by the underpinner. The tools that we can run on air are: point drivers, staplers, blow guns, and nail guns.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Finishing the walnut frame

Here is the finished frame, a 17th Century style polished wood frame with oil gilded sight edge. 

Friday, 22 July 2011

Simon Davis at Red Rag Gallery

These three paintings are by Simon Davis, and are for Red Rag Gallery. They are framed in water gilded and painted frames.

Gilding walnut

Here the the sight edge on the walnut frame is being oil gilded in double thickness 23.5ct gold leaf. Next comes more polishing, distressing, and the antiquing. I actually want to keep this frame, but the customer has been waiting forever so I will have to make another one for myself.

Walnut frame progress...

After a huge number of shellac coats, with rubbing back between every couple of coats the walnut frame was cut to size and joined. Now comes more stages of polishing...

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Chinook over the workshop

Monday, 18 July 2011

Falmouth Frameworks

Falmouth Frameworks - 17th September 2011 to 19th November 2011

This exhibition, being held at Falmouth Art Gallery, Cornwall, looks at the importance of frames and coincides with the publication of a new book, below is the gallery press release.

This unique, innovative and groundbreaking exhibition is the culmination of a three-year project to raise awareness of the importance of historical and artist-designed frames, and the marriage between frame and work. 

There are no museum objects that are more neglected than historical and artist-designed frames. Frames are often an integral part of the works but despite this they are sometimes separated, not conserved or not catalogued.

Using Falmouth's important collection this exhibition examines the artists' relationship with the frame from the early 18th century, through to the modern day. Included are Sven Berlin, Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Thomas Gainsborough, Kurt Jackson, Dame Laura Knight, Sir Alfred Munnings, Ben Nicholson, John Singer Sargent and John William Waterhouse.

In association with Paul Mitchell Limited and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. 
The new book ‘Falmouth Frameworks' by Brian Stewart, is published by Sansom & Company.

Falmouth Frameworks Exhibition

Tray frames

These deep tray frames (also called floater frames) can be used to float mount canvases or panels, and can be finished in any number of different ways. Usually a gap of about 5 to 10mm is left around the canvas to give the floating effect.

Walnut frame

This walnut moulding was given a good sand to remove the machine cutting marks that are often left on hard wood mouldings. It was given one coat of stain, and then had lots of coats of shellac, with sanding between every other coat to build up the smooth surface. The finish will be a deep polished surface with gilded sight edge, to replicate an antique polished wood frame.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Finished cut-down

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Frame cut down part 3

Nearly finished, the top photo shows the frame after it has been re-joined. I used a Dremel  to remove the gesso where the ornament would be applied, so that it was down to the timber and flush with the surrounding area, this is shown in the second photo. The last two photos show the frame after the sections were glued back in place, with an acrylic resin adhesive.

Frame cut down part 2

Top photo shows the Initial rough cut, the middle photo shows the unwanted 2" removed, and the bottom photo shows the frame ready to be joined back together.

Frame cut down

Here's the nice Newcomb and Macklin frame that I did a post on about 4 weeks ago. It needs cutting down to fit a painting, it started at 20" x 24" and needs to be 18" x 24"
I removed the corner ornament, just two vertical sections, on opposite sides. Then the 2 inches could be cut out and it could be re-joined, and then have the ornament stuck back on. These photos show one of the corners: before, during, and after the ornament had been removed. Next to make the cuts.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Carved swept

Here is the finished George Stubbs copy I mentioned last week, it has been framed in a carved swept frame which is water gilded. I had to fit a slip to make the painting fit the frame. 

Monday, 11 July 2011

gold paint over gilding

This water gilded, late 19th Century slip had been overpainted with gold paint, you can see in the photo above how it has gone a lovely browny bronze colour due to oxidation. This layer of paint (it would have originally been gold) was easily removed with acetone, which reveals the original water gilding in gold leaf.
Why was it painted over in the first place? well the gilding is quite distressed and rubbed away in places. A classic cause of damage to the water gilding is someone giving it a wipe with a damp cloth, this removes the protective coat of size or ormolu and makes a mess of the surface. The more cleaning and rubbing, the worse it gets so the solution was to tidy it up with a coat of gold paint. The slip is not actually that badly damaged, and personally I think it looks good with some rub through to the bole.

It's nearly over, I promise

The (dragging) on going, and admittedly rather boring posts about the spray booth are nearly over, the hole was cut in the wall today, and just the finishing off to do now. Here is a photo of Ian looking rather pleased about the whole thing.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

The Watts frame

I think this type of antique frame, simply known as a Watts frame after the Victorian artist G.F. Watts is one of the best designs to come from the 19th Century revival frames. It's balanced with just enough ornament and decoration which make it a suitable frame for portraits and many other subjects. Many of the 19th C revival frames were over ornamented and badly proportioned, and to be honest quite ugly compared to the earlier styles they were based on. The Watts frame is based on Italian cassetta frames, during the late 19th C it was a very popular style and continues to be so now. 

This frame of mine is missing some of the finer details of the classic Watts frame, such as a bead and reel pattern at the base of the outer ornament (nearest the flat), also the oak veneer flat is mitred at the corners whereas classic examples are butt joint, the main leaf pattern and outer pattern are slightly different, and finally the inner husk ornament simply runs all the way round, instead of radiating out from four centre points. None the less, it is a nice antique frame in excellent original condition.

G.F. Watts had a number of frame patterns on this basic cassetta profile, with various decoration on the flat panel.
Watts Gallery has recently reopened after a full refurbishment, it is in Surrey and has an extensive website:

Friday, 8 July 2011

A few jobs finished this week

Here are a few jobs finished this week. The signed jockey silks are framed in a deep, contemporary box frame.
A watercolour by Broadway artist Jeremy Houghton which is framed in a Chippendale style pierced frame. I think this looks great, flamingoes are rather flamboyant looking birds so the Rococo frame seems to suit them very well. I like this mix of old and new.
Lastly is an old photograph in a pewter frame which we use a lot for black and white photography.

The motor was mounted to its support frame today, the big hole through the wall will be done on monday... hopefully.

Lovely little carved frame

Here is a lovely little frame, probably 18th Century, it had some overpainting which I removed, and some other minor damage that was repaired. I forgot to take a photo before starting the work, the photo with dark patches of bole shows the areas repaired before being gilded.

Spray booth update

The spray booth is nearly finished, Mark and Ian worked on this yesterday, the hole in the back of the booth was cut out and reinforced, and some 4" x 4" fence posts were used to construct a support for the extractor motor and fan.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Mounting bench Mk.II

Phil and Mark have near enough finished the mount cutting bench today. There are still a couple of last minute things to be done, like carpeting the large MDF surface, a cutting mat or some other smooth surface on the little flat area on the end, and putting some reference numbers and sample swatches above each mountboard storage rack to make it easy to find the board you need.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Wedding photograph

This lovely happy couple have been framed in a suitably important looking gilded swept frame, with a flat gilded slip. The glazing is anti-reflective museum glass, and the glossy photo has been cold mounted to aluminium composite panel to give the best possible smooth surface finish.

New mountcutter bench

Mark has been busy making a new mount cutting bench for the last couple of days, its a great improvement over the last set-up, the mount cutter is held securely in place and there is a large area to support the mountboard as it is being cut. Underneath will be racks for storing mountboards.