Monday, February 14, 2011

My wife's art frames

Here we are on Valentine's day with another project I've been spending a bit of time on, frames for my wife's art.

My wife took Painting 1 and Design 1 at the local community college last semester.  She's wants to work toward some sort of Interior Design degree or something.  Her ultimate goal is to flip houses.  Buy crappy ones, fix them up and do some cool interior design magic, and then sell them as high-end.

She's does do pretty well.  To the right is one of the first designs she did.  I think her requirement was to use 9 different colors, each one in it's own contiguous region, so she couldn't color the paper triangles.  She's sold this one after agreeing to make a companion piece.

Her paintings are pretty good as well.  To the left is a chinese opera character she found online and painted.  Nice colors.

Anyway, she's too cheap to buy canvas.  So she has been painting and designing on hardboard instead.  It's only 1/4 inch thick or something, so it doesn't look much like a normal art frame.  She then buys 1x2 from Lowe's and I have to make a frame for her.  The first one was not great.  But in all fairness, I didn't do it.  She measured and told me where to cut.

Let me tell you about her measurements.  We have two tall narrow windows in our bedroom.  At one point, she wanted to paint the bedroom this aqua, green color.  We had custom blinds made (again ordered at Lowe's, I believe) to fit the windows.  We went after I got off of work, and she said she had measured the windows before we left.  When we got to the store and the sales lady asked for the size, I knew something was up when my wife said it was exactly 1 foot.  I asked her again, and she said yeah, it was exactly 1 foot.  So I let it go.  When the blinds came in, they didn't fit in the window at all.  As it turned out, when my wife said "1 foot", she meant one of her feet, which are a few inches off of 12 inches.  She had stuck her foot up on the windowsill and measured that way.

Anyway, this time she had the boards marked and just wanted me to cut them.  They were close, but not exact, as the picture at right shows.  The next one I cut, I did 45 degree mitered corners.  Still not exact, but this time it was because we had Lowe's cut the hardboard for us.  Their panel saw isn't exactly 90 degrees, so the board wasn't exactly square.  It still wasn't bad, and since it was just for a class, I didn't worry about it too much.  But since this last one is going to a paying customer, I put more time into it.  I cut the hardboard myself and made it an eighth of an inch too large tall and wide.  I then adjusted the miter saw as close to square up and down as I could get it, and as close to exactly 45 as I could get.

I don't have any way to glue the frame up.  If I have to do it again, I will build a jig and make them keyed miter joints. (See here)  This will make them strong enough that I can put them together before having to attach them to the hardboard.  As it is, I have to glue and nail one edge of the frame at a time to the hardboard.  It makes it very hard to get them at 90 degrees.  So I'm not positive of whether the gaps in the frame are because I didn't get the miter saw exactly 45 or because I didn't get them exactly 90 when I nailed and glued.

Anyway, I clamped it all together overnight and then put a flush trim bit in the router.  The bearing rides along the frame and the blades then cut the hardboard flush with the frame.  Since hardboard is basically paper, the top edge wasn't real clean.  But it took off all the extra "fuzz" or whatever by dragging my knife backward along the edge, just scraping it off.  Don't try to go forward or you'll cut into the hardboard.  My wife put wood filler in all of the gaps that needed it and then sanded down the edges to get it smoother.  She then painted the whole thing white (gesso?) and you can't tell from any distance that it isn't a single piece.  [ed.  While previewing this, she said that she just used standard primer.  Artist's gesso is too expensive.]

Hopefully, I won't be making too many of these.  But I know I have at least one more to make.  She sold the painting on the left to a friend of mine.  It's a watercolor with the paper mounted to hardboard.  The borders on top and bottom are some thin strips of scrap I had in the woodshop, cedar I think, although I don't remember for sure.  The pattern on the strips is sharpie.  Anyway, she sold this one, and the woman that bought it wants her to mimic another painting she has always wanted.  It is a picture of 3 belly dancers, and the artist wants $300 for a print and over $1000 for the painting.  My wife thinks she can do something similar and will only charge her around $300 or so for the painting.  When she gets ready to do it, the client (who was in belly dancing class until she hurt her foot in some unrelated incident) will get two other belly dancers she knows together for a similar pose and I'll photograph it for my wife to copy.  So I get to photo belly dancers. :)

So, that's why I make frames for my wife.  The next post should be the last in this series.  Have a happy Valentine's Day, and I'll leave you with some other images.  Below are some of her other paintings she did for her painting class and one for her design class.

The berries are a copy of a photo I took in the back yard.

She put this together specifically for the class painting.  It's a pair of shoes for each of the family members.
 This is a painting of another of my photos.
This one is for the design class and is based on a spiral staircase she found online somewhere.
This is another one for the design class.  It is cut construction paper.  The black circles are sitting on top of white circles to get the outline.  The rest are all cut from white paper, and a metalic edge to frame it all.

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