Creative mountcutting and mount decoration

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Creative mountcutting and mount decoration

Post by Not your average framer » Sun 09 Jun, 2019 7:49 am

This subject has been largely inspired by the recent discussion subject of colouring mount bevels, but I wanted to provoke some more general and diverse discussions not only about developing a more creative aspect of this in some of our individual businesses, but also from a business development aspect and exploring how each of us feel the subject the subject can reveal ways of taking our business forward.

Perhaps I can start by asking a few general questions, with no particular objective and see where different forum members would like to see this subject developing. There's no point in treating this as in any way rigidly defined, so feel free to open it up in any way you choose.

I opened my first framing shop in 2004 and I am effectively running the same business, but now from my second premises a few doors further down the same road. I the earlier days I was able to sell a few original paintings, prints and engravings, plus quite a good volume of ready made frames. Footfall throughout the town was at a considerably higher level than it has now been for a number of years and this is true not only in my town, but in most local towns of a similar size.

I would not say that the demand for things like wash line mounts and the like was massive, but it was never the less there, but in more modern times the same sort of mounts are something of a rarity. So here comes my first question - Are we missing something here and is there any worthwhile prospect for making something more meaningful of this particular aspect of the market?

Next question - Why sizes of hand decorated mounts are the most likely area of worthwhile business volume and why?

Another question - What creative mount cutting and decorating techniques and aspects do you regard as those most relative to your business?

Yet another - Related business issues, etc.

Finally - Where would you like to develop your own business in this aspect in the coming years, plus how and why?

This is also your opportunity to ask other broadly related questions, or even take this subject in to related ares as yet not mentioned, so feel free to do you own thing. It's not even necessary to even address these initial questions, if these are not interesting enough. Just enjoy!
Mark Lacey

“Life is short. Art long. Opportunity is fleeting. Experience treacherous. Judgement difficult.”
― Geoffrey Chaucer

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Re: Creative mountcutting and mount decoration

Post by prospero » Sun 09 Jun, 2019 5:44 pm

I'm going to sound a bit cynical here, but....

Remember handheld mount cutters? Dahl Cubes and other such gadgets? :P

All the rage in the '80s - early '90s. You could carve all sorts a freehand patterns. I had a book at that time with instructions
on making fancy mounts. Indented corners, interlaced open V-grooves, et al. Great fun! I still have a few sample corners I did.

But the sad fact is, while they were great fun to picture framers they were of minimal interest to the buying public, even then.
CMCs were just coming in back then and you could do lots of manually impossible cuts. But the fancy mounts on CMC seller's
trade stands were mainly for the benefit of CMC sellers. Framers would wet their pants over them, but Joe P? :|

Who does washlines? Actually, the last job I did had one but that was the first one I had done for maybe 5-6 years. I was on a
nice Edwardian watercolour, so entirely appropriate. But folks generally don't want them onto anything else.
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Re: Creative mountcutting and mount decoration

Post by Not your average framer » Mon 10 Jun, 2019 9:50 am

Yes, that's what I was thinking as well, but I remember that when Roboframer was still around, he said he was still doing plenty of this sort of work and also with many youtube demos from Mal Reynolds, I'm wondering if stuff like this is not as dead as it seems. I haven't done much in the way of washline mounts for years and to be honest, I don't even try to offer them to customers. The same applies to gold pen lines, but I still sell hand painted bevels and reveals on double mounts and I still sell deep bevelled mounts.

I stopped using the deep bevel wrapping tapes a long time ago, because it's more convenient to stipple the bevels with a couple of coats of an acrylic paint and chalky emulsion paint mix. This might not appeal to everyone, but I cut my deep bevel mounts out of either backing board, or 4.2mm thick cheap cream core board and another conservation alkaline buffered board below that providing spacing between the cheap board and the artwork. I would not say that I do a massive number of these, but from time to time, I do a demo for display in the shop window and this creates some inertrest and some sales.

Mostly customers choose things for something special. I would not mind generating a bit more business for this sort of thing, but I'm not sure how much scope there is for making this happen. Like you say, as a framer this still appeals to me, as for the customers, that's another matter. I'm quite inclined to be thinking, that generating a little bit extra business might come from additional hand finishing specialities and to be realistic, I get most of my sales volume from hand finishing, good quality well finished hardwood frames, particularly in oak. I did not have any particular expectations for this thread, but I thought it might go somewhere.
Mark Lacey

“Life is short. Art long. Opportunity is fleeting. Experience treacherous. Judgement difficult.”
― Geoffrey Chaucer

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Re: Creative mountcutting and mount decoration

Post by David » Mon 10 Jun, 2019 1:08 pm

Excellent topic and a bit of a hobby horse of mine and I guess this will not go down too well but I am constantly disappointed on how unadventurous and uncreative so many framers are in this country, it really is quite depressing.
First, creative fancy mount cutting and decorating is not needed, required or appropriate on everything. But from what I see too many framers start and finish at a double mount, so it depends where you draw the line at creative framing. I would say most of my framing is not creative but a single plain mount is also in the minority and something of a rarety. My default mount is a double mount, in the same colour with a 3 or 4mm step. Sometimes a single mount and simple frame is all that is needed.
Being creative is a relative term, for regular Art framing subtlety is the key, you do not want to dominate the artwork but you can enhance it and there are a number of techniques that are viable:
Double, triple, quadruple and more mounts in various colour combinations.
Reverse bevels.
Coloured bevels.
Spacers.
Simple single or double lines.
Stacked frames.
Slips & fillets.
These are not overly time consuming or expensive and can be charged realistically for.
There is a time and place for being really creative, for me this is primarily military and sporting subjects, certificates, qualifications and collections, in other words not regular Art framing. I charge a lot for some of my framing and there is a market for it. But you have to offer it and have samples for the customer to see. This requires some speculation and investment in time and materials but you are not going to get far without it. I was going post a whole load of photos but will use one job as an example.
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This was created as a display piece for the Gunnar stand at the NEC and as a personal project, it took 15 hours start to finish, a notable figure in the industry told me it was a waste of time and money, looked good but not realistic or viable commercially. Well I sent a copy of these photographs to a certain Regiment and it generated thousands of pounds worth of framing, one order alone was over £5K. Without the sample it never would have happened. I am still getting orders from it. I could go on.
There are plenty more examples of creative framing on my website if anyone is interested. It’s not to everyone’s taste but there is a market, they do sell and I do charge a reasonable rate. Assuming customers won’t pay is all too common, the same goes for speciality glass, if you don’t offer it you won’t sell it. On this point my regular glass is conservation and UV70% anti reflective.
I could go on about American framers and how much more creative they are, may be another time.
I’m at the Brighton Wessex Roadshow tomorrow, Tuesday 11th June, if anyone wants to say hello. I'm on the Keencut stand.

David.

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Re: Creative mountcutting and mount decoration

Post by Not your average framer » Mon 10 Jun, 2019 2:16 pm

Since the subject of Gunnar CMC's has just been mentioned, although I don't have a desparate need for one, I always would have liked to have a Gunnar F! hybrid and since these machines are no longer a current production machine and I will be reeceiving an inheritance in the next year, or so, if I can pick one up secondhand at the right price and condition. I might well consider getting one.

Not that I would want to be cutting fancy CMC mounts, but they also have lots of potential for object framing and making up cove boxes and box sections for deep box frames. Deep mounts would be less effort as blade depth is software selectable. It would be a bit of an indulgence, but I think it would pay for it's self as I don't know how much recovery I will have made from my stroke by then, it might be quite a good thing to keep me going.
Mark Lacey

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Re: Creative mountcutting and mount decoration

Post by Framerpicture » Mon 10 Jun, 2019 3:16 pm

Picture framing seems to be led by fashion/trends and right now most of my customers are choosing things that are plain and simple, and a far cry from what we were supplying even 10 years ago

Although we've had a CMC mount cutter for over 20 years the majority of work its ever done is producing squares, and rectangles. We tried to produce shapes and fancy designs but there was never any real demand, although we do find the CMC very useful for Cove boxes

We haven't produced a washline for years now, but back when Victorian / Edwardian watercolours were actually selling we would be creating quite a few a week.


In the past we've also sold many metres of various mount slip but currently were not finding anything like as much demand with a definite preference for 3.5mm deep bevel mounts, sometimes with a double of a standard board the same colour, but very few coloured double mounts of any description.

But I guess every thing changes and 'what goes around comes around' so my ability to produce a washline may one day be useful again!

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Re: Creative mountcutting and mount decoration

Post by Not your average framer » Mon 10 Jun, 2019 4:15 pm

Our demand for object framing for smaller items is quite good, but it can sometimes be a bit dependant on the customers budget. I'm fairly sure that if I wanted to make the effort at slightly lower prices, then things could get quite interesting and a CMC would probably increase my throughput and enable me to moderately adjust my prices when I need to, without having to sacrifice my hourly rate. I would not want to do this for larger object framing jobs.

Framing items in small cove boxes and using a CMC to fabricate the cove boxes would create a great market for me. I've already got no shortage of customers who are keen to grab ready made deep box frames when I put them in my shop windows. Most of these particular customers are producing items to sell, so I would not have to try to sell a few more.

I don't normally try to do anything time consuming for ready made items for the shop windows, but on the rare occasions that I've decided to sell something that's been given a bit of the treatment to create some impact, somebody usually wants to get in before it get sold to someone else. I've definately got a good market for painted inner mounts and painted deep bevels, but the moment these jobs get too time consuming, they are a lot harder to earn a reasonable hourly rate by doing them.

Spending time masking mounts before painting them is just too time consuming for me these days, unless customers are happy to pay a worthwhile price, which some still do, but with passing trade from visitors, you only get the one chance to sell something and the urge to buy needs to be strong. People might only look at something very briefly and "run of the mill" is not where it's at, if you are looking for impulse sales and worthwhile profit at the same time. Getting money out of passing visitors is just a lot harder these days.
Mark Lacey

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Re: Creative mountcutting and mount decoration

Post by poliopete » Mon 10 Jun, 2019 5:32 pm

David SF, I agree with every word or your post.

I am in no way claiming to be as skillful as you but I ran my framing business along the same lines and using many of the same principles and if others adopted a similar business model they would be just as successful in spite of these difficult trading times.

Peter.

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Re: Creative mountcutting and mount decoration

Post by prospero » Mon 10 Jun, 2019 7:05 pm

The 'fanciest' mount I ever did (and I wish I had taken a photo) was a for a horse photo. The photo in question was
a sort-of three-quarter portrait of the horse taken at a show. The lady who had it didn't like the fact that her sister-in-law
was in the background and wondered whether I could mask her off with the mount. Unfortunately, this would mean covering the
horses nose which was off to the left.
I puzzled a bit and then cut an oval. I can't remember how I did it, but I somehow managed to extend the oval window, cutting
freehand tight to the outline of the horses nose. :P The result exceeded expectations as it appeared as it if it was poking it's head
out of the frame. I could have gone further and airbrushed a shadow on the mount, but it was weird enough already. :lol:

Just thinking.... The amount of mounts I cut nowadays is but a fraction of what I used to. I would say 95% of the frames I do today
don't have glass in. Original oils or canvas prints. :roll:
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Re: Creative mountcutting and mount decoration

Post by MarkR32 » Thu 13 Jun, 2019 4:24 pm

We dont see a lot of requests for fancy mounts, most prefer an 'oversized single mount with a white core... grey is very much the colour of choice.

That being said we do get requests for fancy cuts on football shirts ... but sometimes simple is best

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Re: Creative mountcutting and mount decoration

Post by Not your average framer » Thu 13 Jun, 2019 6:06 pm

I agree, but at least you are offering that extra bit of style and excitement, which is a good bit of what it's all about. Too often a lot of the down market frames are trying to look more up market and a classy looking, well executed mount can still add that extra something to the overall job that makes all the difference in a market where too much is about being all rather the same.
Mark Lacey

“Life is short. Art long. Opportunity is fleeting. Experience treacherous. Judgement difficult.”
― Geoffrey Chaucer

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Re: Creative mountcutting and mount decoration

Post by Not your average framer » Fri 14 Jun, 2019 10:05 pm

I have for a long time liked the concept of a double mount featuring thick and thin mount boards in combination. The main problem with this is the need to re-calibrate the mount cutter each time that you change the mount board thickness that you are cutting. Re-calibrating for a different mount board thickness on a Keencut Ultimat Gold can be really time consuming and to be honest if you are going to do much of this, a second mount cutter already calibrated to the alternate thickness of mount board would save a lot of time.

I was doing these thick and thin double mounts at one time and instead of completely re-calibrating everything on the mount cutter, I was only re-adjusting the blade depth and had a correction figure that I added to the desired start and stop of cut stop settings. I would not say that this was completely as accurate as I would like, but it did work "sort of", but it was not the same as totally zeroing out the start and stop of cut positions and there was a degree of variability in over / undercuts at the corners of the apertures at times.

I still really like the visual effect such a mount creates and think that this can be not only stunning, but is a very "up to date" look. I think that this is a look that is not normally associated with cheaper, or less prestigious framing and should be helpful in attracting customers who still want something special, without having to resort to washlines, or anything like that. For many of our customers, wash lines and wash panels, probably belong to a long gone era, but there is still a desire for something districntive and modern, well I can't see any reason this should not fit the bill.
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Re: Creative mountcutting and mount decoration

Post by prospero » Sat 15 Jun, 2019 2:15 am

I recently had the job of re-mounting some of my paintings for a chap who initially bought them in the early '90s.
All had washline mounts. It was a bit soul-destroying having to junk the old mounts (maybe 20) which I had spent
many an hour making. The new mounts were LJ "Dawn Green" (which is actually a hairy pale grey) over 2mm "Glacier". The top
layer had a strategically placed v-groove. Looked very good actually. Also "greyed" the original gold frames and switched
to AR glass for good measure.

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Re: Creative mountcutting and mount decoration

Post by prospero » Sat 15 Jun, 2019 2:23 am

As for re-setting the mountcutter between board thicknesses, on my C&H it's a doddle.
Wind the blade out a bit - quite a lot actually, and set the end stop -2mm. So if you have a 70mm border,
set to 68. The top stop needs no compensation as the extra blade extension accounts for the start point.

That's for 2mm board.
3mm+ board is at the limit of the cutter's capability and take multiple passes and a bit of a faff though. :roll:

It will do it. I prefer not to. :lol:
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Re: Creative mountcutting and mount decoration

Post by poliopete » Sat 15 Jun, 2019 6:36 am

I must say that adjusting the depth of cut for different mountboard thicknesses is also a doddle on my Kimberly mount cutter. In fact, when it comes to straight cuts there is nothing it can't accomplish. I also have a Kimberly oval/circle cutter, admittedly not used much these days but it is there when required and keeps that type of work in house and under my control.

I agree with David that a framer can, more often than not, be creative with mounts without going over the top and that will enhance the framing. I also firmly believe by having examples on display can make up-selling, to the customer, much easier and consequently make your business more profitable

Peter.

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