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  • Writer's picturePaul Fattori

Seven Steps to Frame Heaven

As our daughter was growing up, we instilled in her a very simple principal to help guide her with her goals and aspirations ... There's no short cut to success.

Unlike the mass produced "chop & join" frames, a hand-crafted frame takes time to create. The added time results in a quality frame that lasts for generations.

The following description of seven steps to frame heaven, is an example of the process we used to create frames especially designed for antique hand-painted Japanese prints.


1: Mill & Join: We begin each of our frames with raw solid wood, nothing is pre-milled or molded from plastic. We mill the wood to form the profile shape of the frame and then join the sides, often using spline joinery.

2: Mark Pattern: The pattern or design of the frame is drawn by hand on the frame.

3: Carving: The design is then carved out by hand using a series of carving tools ... chisels, gouges, knives and veiners.

4: Gesso: Multiple coats of gesso clay is applied, typically by spray, to the frame. In the example below black clay was applied to the majority of the frame, while red clay was applied for the flowers.

5: Gilding: We use the highest quality gold leaf available. Our supplier, Giusto Manetti Battiloro company in Florence, Italy has been producing gold leaf since 1600. In this example, white gold was used over the black clay and yellow gold over the flowers.

6: Rub: A medium rub was used on the example below to expose the gesso clay, both black and red, revealing the gold leaf underneath.

7: Matt & Fit: A linen matt with a gold bevel was used. Fitting was completed with plexiglass.

The process of completing the seven steps can take between four to eight weeks, depending upon the complexity of the carving and size of the frame. In the end, you are rewarded with a heavenly piece of craftsmanship.

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