In The Frame – A Learning Experience

Well hello there everybody! I hope you all enjoyed the weekend. For any of you who missed Friday’s post, I introduced this brand-new family of Beasties…
All the Family Together - CrawCrafts Beasties… But I did also mentioned that there was something special ahead for this bunch of little monsters and their faithful Beastiedog. Something that meant that they needed to have specially-adapted sticky toes!
Special Sticky Beastie Feet - CrawCrafts BeastiesSo what’s the deal? Well, I can now reveal that these Beasties are going to live in a frame!

The idea of framing Beasties, so that they can lead a life untainted by fears of dust, moths and over-friendly pets, is one that I’ve been toying with for a while. I’ve even gone as far as to mention it to customers at markets… But no-one had ever taken me up on the offer.

Until recently.

And WOWEE, it’s been a steep learning curve! So in today’s post, I wanted to talk about how I went about framing a whole family of Beasties… And what I learned along the way.

Lesson 1 – A Frame ain’t cheap!

When I first estimated a price for this project, I assumed that IKEA would have a suitable Beastie habitat among their vast range of picture frames and display boxes. Errr… Nope. And when I started to research the alternatives online, the price nearly took my breath away. YIKES! Turns out a nice deep box frame in the size I needed involved a custom order, and would significantly increase the cost of making this piece.

So, I had no choice but to go back to my customer – but I was at least able to give him a couple of options if he wanted to stick to the original quote. I figured I could make the Beasties flatter, so that they’d fit in a narrower frame, or create a sewn or embroidered piece for him instead. Fortunately, he preferred to stick to the original plan and pay a little more for “real” 3D Beasties in a custom-sized frame.

All that was left to do then was to have a quick word with Pigbert E. Banks, our financial advisor…
Checking our Finances for Framing - CrawCrafts Beasties… And we were good to go! But then…

Lesson 2 – Go Bigger or Go Home

Before I ordered my frame, I got Explorer Beastie and a few friends together to help me estimate the size I’d need. I obsessively measured and remeasured, and then added in a couple of extra inches just to be sure.

Let me tell you, I’m so glad I did. Because as the family of Beasties began to take shape, I realised that their hair and outfits were making them considerably bigger than my models had been. The frame was already en route, but would the Beasties all fit inside? I was so worried they wouldn’t that I even considered ordering a second one in the next size up! But when it arrived (please excuse gratuitous Beastie nudity and bed-head hair)…
Framing Test - CrawCrafts BeastiesSaved! What a relief. But then I noticed that raw wood and MDF inside… And it was time for the next hiccup.

Lesson 3 – When the order form says “Would you like a mount board?” the correct answer is YES

Why did I opt out? Well, my uncertainty about getting everybody inside the frame meant that I was reluctant to put anything else in there that might eat up valuable space. I also thought “How hard can it be to get a mount board?” – talk about a rookie mistake!

So, I did the rounds of art supply stores and stationers, in search of either a board that would fit or a nice person who would cut a standard board to size for me. The lady in K&M Evans was especially lovely, even offering to call a nearby printers to see if they would help! But in the end, I realised that I would need to go back to those oh-so-pricey local framing companies.

Fortunately, in my Googlings, I stumbled on a real gem. Dublin Picture Framing have a studio in the very heart of the city, in the most awesome old building. They were super-helpful, and sent me on my way with 3 different boards so I could pick the one that best fitted my frame. Talk about saving the day!
We Found a Mount Board! CrawCrafts BeastiesThen all we had to do was to find a matching paint to take care of the sides…
Painting Time! CrawCrafts Beasties… And the inside of the frame was transformed! Surely that’s everything taken care of now? Not quite… Mum and Dad Beastie can’t very well hang in the air, can they? Looks like we’re going to need something for them to stand on!

Lesson 4 – Make Friends with your Local Builder’s Merchant

At this point, I should have known better than to utter the words “how hard can it be?”, but that’s exactly how I approached the problem of getting a piece of timber cut to create a riser for some of the Beasties to stand on. A tour of the hardware stores revealed that, on a Saturday at least, this service is near impossible to come by. The good folks at Decwells do have a resident handyman who would have sorted this out for me, but alas! He doesn’t work weekends. However, they suggested I try Chadwicks, a local builder’s merchant, which I had always assumed to be trade-only.

Not so! Even though I arrived just minutes before closing time, they directed me to a pile of offcuts and let me take my pick. Best of all – it was free! Then, armed with my Junior Hacksaw, a file and some sandpaper, I set about prettifying my plank.
Time for Some Woodwork! CrawCrafts BeastiesAnd with a couple of coats of paint…
A Riser for the Frame - CrawCrafts BeastiesSuccess!

And that just leaves one last lesson to share…

Lesson 5 – Don’t Panic!

If you keep chipping away at any problem, you’ll figure it out. I had plenty of nail-biting moments with this one, but I’ve learned HEAPS along the way. I also found plenty of people who were happy to lend a hand!

So, after all that… You’d probably like to see the finished frame, right?
All Done! Framed Family Portrait Beasties, by CrawCrafts BeastiesI’m almost scared to ask, but… What do you think? Any helpful framing tips for next time? Please feel free to share in the comments!

We’ll be back on Friday with something I DO know a thing or two about – Beastie photoshoots! See you all then…

46 thoughts on “In The Frame – A Learning Experience

      1. Oh no no, it is as hard as you imagine! I used to do a lot of varnishing and decorate on tiny objects as wood cests, boxes and frames and not always the final result was satisfiing…. i have some experience in old furniture restauration so I know how to use paint and varnish but you never know how a project turned out..

        1. Yes, I was terrified of making a mistake… Wood is definitely not as forgiving a material as textiles! I’m impressed that you used to do furniture restoration though – do you still have any of the pieces or were they all for other people?

        2. They were all for others. Well, it is, better way, a nice job indeed but I would never put in my house something old… I need the freshness of modern furniture..

        3. Yes, I suppose the modern stuff tends to be more functional too… After all, those craft supplies have to go somewhere! πŸ˜†

    1. Oooh, good thinking! It would also have sculpting potential if I was feeling fancy… πŸ€” Thanks, Marco!

    1. Thanks, Mariss! It did feel like a bit of an odyssey… But then the path of trying something new rarely runs smoothly! I’m sure the next one will be easier! πŸ˜€

  1. I take all my framing issues to Natalie, a local artist who also runs a framers… I would be lost without her. I am, therefore, super-impressed with your creativity and persistence at getting it just right. I think I prefer free-range beasties, but these are certainly in just the place for admiration… let’s hope it doesn’t go to their heads!

    1. Uh-oh! There had better not be any cases of fame going to those Beasties’ heads… There’s not much room for expansion in there! It certainly was an interesting experience, but now that I’ve made contact with a local framer myself, I might follow your lead and leave future framings to the experts! Thanks for dropping in, Jan πŸ˜€

    1. Thanks, Simon! I’ve definitely learned my lesson about saying “hey, how hard could that be?” πŸ˜‚ That said, I’m already scheming away at how I could do this again, but better… Watch this space!

      1. I’m sure there’s a way of making it easier, you just need to think about it. But you should know from Top Gear… when you ask that question it’s always very hard lol

        1. Yes, I was hearing Jeremy Clarkson’s voice in my head every time I embarked on a new phase of this project! πŸ˜† I think if time and cost hadn’t been factors, it would have been a lot easier… I’d just have made the Beasties, wandered into the first framing place I could find and said “here, frame these”. But with a looming deadline, and a need to stay close to the original quote I’d given the customer, it became a whole new ball game! Plus it was a tricky first assignment… I’ll think nothing of framing a single Beastie after doing an entire family of five plus dog! πŸ˜‚ Cheers for your comment, Simon!

  2. Having endured my own framing woes (and the creative measure it sometimes takes to make them work with a project), I completely understand how you felt going through with this. And don’t worry, you’re not the only one who has been let down by IKEA’s framing selection (grrrrr…..).

    Not that you would want MORE of a challenge and this might work better with only two or three Beasties (with more beasties it might cluttered), but if the client had a favorite scene (say a landscape shot from a vacation) I think there are places that could print their photo directly onto the backing board. Another idea, maybe a mini shelf part way up for the top tier of Beasties to stand on so they look a little less “floaty” (unless of course they float in real life… ; ) ).

    And I have to say, “Junior” Hacksaw cracked me up…I’m picturing some toddler brandishing it and cutting up his highchair!! By the way, your financial advisor is very cute :))

    1. Ah yes, I thought you might sympathise with my series of unfortunate framing events! πŸ˜‚ In a way, I’m actually glad that IKEA weren’t able to help, as I’ve had mixed experiences with their frames in the past. I think what I ended up with was a much sturdier, better-quality home for those Beasties to hang out in!

      I do like the idea of a landscape in the background though… I’ll definitely put that on the options list for future, less crowded portraits! Someone else (possibly a knitting student) also suggested using fancy wallpaper as a backdrop, especially if small, otherwise unusable offcuts were going spare somewhere. And yes, shelves are good too!

      And finally… As you can maybe tell since I photographed the thing, I was seriously tickled by the Junior Hacksaw too. In the shop, they offered me that and a fancy-pants mini saw that was nearly 3 times the price. The decision pretty much made itself! But I will be keeping it away from wayward toddlers, just in case. Cheers for stopping in, Tammie! πŸ˜€

      1. Wait, why didn’t you just knit a box frame πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

        Ooh, wallpaper would be interesting as long as it didn’t clash with the beasties. I can see the evolution of this…soon you’re going to end up making Beastie dioramas (which will be handy when you start that Beastie Natural History Museum).

        1. A Beastie Museum? It’s the dream! I’d better get cracking on those dioramas right now… Once I’ve finished drafting a pattern for a knitted box frame, of course. πŸ˜‚

  3. Wooooooooooow haha this sounds like an insane amount of persistent hard work! But great payoff – it looks awesome! And cool that you met some helpful locals along the way! I’m really impressed by your sawing and painting and building handiwork. I hope you didn’t have to ship the final product? I feel like that would be a whole extra tricky endeavour aaauuughhhhhh. Well done!

    1. No, thank goodness! I managed to catch my customer on a visit to Ireland… I just hope he brought a big suitcase over to carry the frame back to Italy with him! And I actually quite enjoyed the sawing and painting bit – hey, I might take up woodwork! You know, with all that free time I have πŸ˜‚ Cheers for stopping in, Weekes!

      1. Hahaha yep, you’d better add more crafting activities to your schedule because we couldn’t have you actually sleeping at night! No time for that! Haha I’m imagining him carrying the frame on the airplane – might be a good showcase for business!

        1. Heehee! Yes, and buckling it into its own seat! πŸ˜‚ As for sleeping… The final quarter of the year approacheth, so I’ll be kissing goodbye to that soon enough anyway! πŸ˜†

        2. There is no tea strong enough! πŸ˜‚ I’m stockpiling NescafΓ© Gold Blend ’cause it’s on offer in the supermarket… And because I’m a charlatan who prefers instant coffee to real coffee. Jitters ahoy! 😲

        3. Haha! If you need to get rid of it, work in a coffee shop for a couple of months. It totally soured me on the whole actually-made-from-beans coffee experience! πŸ˜‚

        4. Yesssss…. my very first job was in a Starbucks in a bookstore, and I did suffer a temporary espresso aversion… cleared up pretty quickly, though, as I managed to mostly wipe the whole experience from my memory!

        5. Ha! That’s a useful skill… I couldn’t stand the sound of a coffee grinder for years afterwards! πŸ˜†

  4. Beautiful work, Helen, and thanks for sharing the learnings along the way – a great example of how persistence and reaching out can solve any creative quandary. πŸ™‚ The Beastie fam + pup are exceptionally adorable, and now look very happy to be together in their new glass home, on proud display! Bravo on this project, beautifully executed! (and the junior saw and paints and sandpaper will surely come in hand for next time!)

    1. Thank you, Shirley! And yes, I’ll definitely be holding on to my trusty Junior Hacksaw… I think I’d like to add a spot of woodworking to my crafty repertoire! Although perhaps I’ll consult my dad (woodworker extraordinaire) for tips before I embark on anything more involved than sawing a plank in half πŸ˜€
      Cheers for stopping in!

      1. Oohh, yes, please! That’s wonderful that you can draw on your dad’s expertise (I remember seeing his amazing work on this blog!). Funnily, I also have a junior saw, but didn’t get much farther than cutting wooden dowels for an imagined project that never got done, ha!

        1. Hahaha! I’m glad I’m not the only one who fell under the spell of the junior toolkit. A kiddie-size saw is actually a step up for me… Until now I’d been using the attachment on Boyfriend’s Swiss Army knife! πŸ˜†

    1. Thanks, Hannah! And yes, yes it did πŸ˜† But now I understand what you’re actually paying for when you get a framer involved at the very beginning! Cheers for stopping in πŸ˜€

  5. I love it! Despite the rather nail biting moments. I can so see me doing the β€˜how hard can that be’, and β€˜I can work it out for cheaper’ thing. It has worked well for you, and you’ve got extra skills now! When I was in the UK I bought the mount board from Amazon at a reasonable price. Still yet to find some here in Oz though…

    1. Oooh, thanks for the tip! I’ll have to investigate… I’d say Amazon have a better range of non-standard sizes than most art shops, so it could be handy for future efforts. As for the new skills, I’m looking forward to using them again sometime… Preferably without the undercurrent of mild panic and missed deadlines though! πŸ˜‚ Cheers for stopping in, Catherine!

    1. Heehee! Oh no, I hope I won’t be mobbed by “Free the Beasties” campaigners next time I venture outside! πŸ˜‚ Although I’m sure you’ll be relieved to hear that these Beasties are by no means permanently confined to their glass-fronted home… The front of the frame can be removed, leaving them free to wander at will if they so desire! But thank you for so speaking out so passionately about Beastie rights! πŸ˜€

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