Since moving back from the east coast I have managed to work in a large variety of retail framing establishments. Some were small and exclusive, others large national franchises and one somewhere in between (local custom frame designer that carried the major publishing lines).
I developed my talents further at North Wind Designs (John's Landing) where I learned gallery design and layout, display and fine tuned my framing skills. I next managed the framing department for Obeidi-Sinclair's Frame Department in old town Portland. I developed my management and diplomacy as I sometimes had to discuss, explain and help the owner (new to the business at that time) understand pricing and the bottom line. He was sometimes generous to a fault.
I next joined Deck the Walls, Clackamas. Here I learned to manage a mall store with huge volume while working closely with the owner. We then opened a store in the Valley River Mall in Eugene. Where I honed my window display skills and started a pattern of creating rooms, in a 3.5 deep window. It was challenging to create the illusion I wanted. After a couple of years we opened the Washington Square Mall location.
I decided to move to a different type of store and returned to Gallery International (I had worked a short stint here before Deck the Walls). Mike, the owner, and I had some tricky challenges in style and design the first time around. His way or else, but in the process we learned to like and respect each other. When I returned to Gallery International the times had changed and the way people were purchasing art had changed. No more collectors buying everything the artist produced-now the buyers were more discriminating and only bought the pieces they really liked. This meant the framing changed also and expanded into new ways of designing that were mare art-centric and unique.
In 1996 I got an opportunity to purchase a building in Newberg, Oregon and took the leap, not to just owning and operating my own galley and frame shop, but to property ownership and management (I had a tenant building on the property also).
Wow, what a learning curve. as my Mom said, I couldn't just get my toe wet I had to jump in up to my neck.
It has been an adventure and a beautiful challenge. Now after 18 years I start a new adventure as My Personal Framer.
Stage 2: The DIY experience
Frame It Yourself in Ramsey, NJ. My cousin Paula recruited me to move to Ramsey NJ and run her Ramsey, NJ "Frame It Yourself" business. I worked as a manager and expanded the design and technique capabilities of the shop. I brought skills from my Western Picture Frame experience to the NJ shop. Framing techniques such as french lines, painted bevels, fabric mats, closed corner frames and a more sophisticated style than the previous manager.
Paula and I had similar design aesthetics so it worked well. I enjoyed the time and the learning. In our shop customers had the option to save money by building the frame and fitting their project, or we did the piece custom. For the DIY, the shop cut the mats, frame, did the mounts and other technical work. Many times a customer would do it themselves and then in the future opt to have us do the work. They understood and appreciated the value of the work we did after trying it themselves. We had a die-hard diy following that came on Thursday nights to frame and chat.
I lived in Southern New York state (the town of Warwick) and got to experience true seasons, snow, rain, heat (humidity-ugh!) and the much slower spring of the east. I, of course, did Leaf Peak tours with various family members. After 5 years I decided to move back to Oregon.
Stage One: Introduction to Custom Picture Framing.
I have been custom framing since 1983. The first shop I worked in was Western Picture Frame, owned by the Luckey family. This shop had been in the same family and location on NW 1st in downtown Portland since before the 1890 flood. This was a cast iron front building similar to those at the right. They had a photo on the design table that picture the shop with a boat tied in front and a window sign "We deliver by boat". I learned history of framing, molding and techniques. On the third floor were moldings dating back up to a hundred years on a mezzanine around the main floor. I also saw and worked with the damage caused by early paper mats; burns, weakness in the paper of the art, and discoloration caused by the lignin and acids in paper mat (see conservation/preservation). I saw the damage done long before it became written, studied and published for the retail framer. Museums had much of this knowledge, but until the '80's or so it wasn't seen as necessary by many retail frame designers. Most of us know better now.
I have just finished uploading a ton of images from the past. A pictorial history of the building and page on the various renditions of "The Room". ie: the display window you have enjoyed for many years and some of you have mentioned that you miss it. I do to ---sometimes. I have also added a page on local art fairs throughout the region.
Sally Dallas, Artisan Framer