Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thinking of Frames

 It is a beautiful spring day here in central Virginia.   Oddly, I find myself thinking of the perennial holiday special, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer-- the one with claymation figures that resemble squishy ping-pong balls.  In particular I am thinking of the  Island of Misfit Toys, where the odd and unwanted reside.  Perhaps there is a similar island for all the ornate gilt picture frames that everyone seems to be discarding right and left.

The plight of these frames has come to my attention in recent weeks.  It happened that three paintings I have been restoring,  all dating from earlier centuries, were housed in elaborate gold-leafed frames.  All three owners want to discard these frames in favor of something with cleaner lines.  Wood seems to be the preference over gilt.  Will these frames end up on their own Island of Misfit Decor ?    

I find it interesting that many of us are comfortable with  an eclectic grouping of paintings from several periods and in several styles, but prefer our frames to be contemporary or at least unobtrusive. For many, an ornate frame seems dated, not in keeping with a home's decor.  Apparently, the frame is judged in the manner of furniture while the painting is its own self-contained world.  A nineteenth century portrait can "work" with IKEA furniture, but its original frame (if full of furbelows) cannot. 

Now and then, a client wishes to repair a gilt frame.   I  take casts from existing  areas to recreate the missing ones or I carve these pieces out of epoxy.  Although I do not do gold leaf, I have been able to blend colors by  using high-quality metallic paints which I then glaze with earth-toned oil paints. 

I wonder what the future holds for all these unwanted frames.  My guess is that a lot of frames will be showing up in antique and consignment shops, and on EBay.  Hopefully they will find will find new homes, and new lives as mirrors. 

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