A picture framer uses his hands and imagination to provide the best setting
and protection for his client's artwork.
"I enjoy the creativity it affords me," says framer Paul Thomas. "Object
framing especially presents unique challenges."
It's important to remember, though, that the customer, not the framer,
defines art. Framers may find themselves designing and building a frame for
anything from an old magazine to a hockey stick. However, that is one of the
things that give framers a creative challenge.
"On the day the client returns to pick up the work, I am always pleased
at their reaction," says framer John Van Doren. "Normally, it is even better
than they imagined. That makes me the winner and that's because I love my
A picture framer must first discuss each job with the client to decide
what will be best for the object or objects being framed.
Then the framer carefully measures the object and calculates the material
needed to complete the project. The price is determined from the cost of materials
and the time it will take the framer to complete the job.
The framer attaches the item to the mounting board, cuts the mat to accent
the display, and cuts and assembles the frame. Then they cut the glass to
cover the front and fix it to the frame. The job is finished by applying the
dust cover and hanging hardware.
"I cut frames in my garage," says Thomas. "Customer consultations, mat
and glass cutting and assembly are all done in part of my basement. Our entire
house is a showroom."
During busy times, a framer can work long days. "You need the ability to
be on your feet 10 to 12 hours a day and smile the entire time," Van Doren
Yet it is worth it for many. "A typical workday is full of fun and challenges,"
Van Doren says. "The most fun is the unique items clients bring to me for
framing or displaying."
Thomas says the biggest requirement for a picture framer is patience.
"It's not hard physically, because most of the work is machine-aided,"
he says. "Picture framing is an equal opportunity job."
It is also a job Thomas recommends to others. "Initial costs do not have
to be astronomical. The sense of satisfaction to be derived is huge. You also
get to see some very interesting works of art."
"It's a great business, but it's quite a roller-coaster ride," says framer
Joseph Volk of Massachusetts. He owns his own business. "Like any retail business,
we struggle with the seasons. For us, summer is the pits for cash flow. Somehow
we always make it through."
Van Doren says the best things about his job are being in charge of his
life and doing what he loves best. "It's terrific," he says.
"It's just something you do because you like it," Volk says.
"Having a home-based business has been a dream for a long time," says Nancy
Burdick of Columbia, Missouri. "No day is typical. The work is exciting and
challenging and I love it."
The nature of this job would make it challenging for those who are visually