Ever Wonder What Goes on in the Back Room?

Chances are, that if you bring in some artwork to be framed at Esprit Decor Gallery, you will be greeted by Robert Hilton, our amiable and hard-working Gallery Director, who helps guide our clients thru the myriad decisions that are a natural part of having a piece of artwork framed.

It's much less challenging than it would seem, what with thousands of frame samples, hundreds of mats, filets, fabric and glazing options to choose from, but Robert's superb eye for great design, his ability to listen to our client's needs and desires, and his friendly manner put everyone at ease, as he deftly guides them through the framing solution process, ensuring that the finished product will be a treasured addition to your home!

After the order is finalized, an incredibly complex choreography begins. The due-date of the artwork is recorded and added to the schedule. The artwork is safely tucked away in one of over twenty different locations depending on its state, size, type, and condition. Special instructions are included and double-checked, materials are sourced, stock is verified. Orders are placed, most often from multiple vendors. The wheels begin to turn as the orders are filled at suppliers' warehouses, both near and far. Messages go back and forth noting exceptions that must then be addressed. Is the item out of stock? When will it be back in stock? Can we wait, or do we get it from an alternate vendor, and is one available? What's our deadline? What is our deadline?

Now multiply this recipe a hundred times, have it all happen simultaneously, and you begin to understand the choreography that goes on behind the scenes as each order is shepherded through the actual framing process, which has yet to begin.

Once all the materials have arrived and been checked in and inspected (sometimes a mat will have a flaw, or moulding will be warped, or have imperfections, which will trigger a flurry of other actions) the framing process can begin. First, an entirely new set of measurements is taken, down to 1/16th of an inch. Special instructions are noted which might change the process entirely.

Moulding is cut on a custom double-miter picture framing saw using special carbide-tipped blades to ensure a perfect cut, at the perfect angle.  After the cuts and moulding are re-inspected, the frame is glued using special PVA glue and joined on a pneumatic-powered underpinner, which leaves no marks or nail holes on the sides of the moulding.

Meanwhile, museum-grade archival mats are cut on a computer-controlled mat cutter to a precision of one-thousandth of an inch. The artwork is then either mounted using heat and vacuum in an oversized vacuum press, archivally hinged, stitched or pinned using stainless-steel pins, special mounts are fabricated – each technique selected for the hundreds of different types of images and objects that pass through our workroom in any given month.

One of nine different types of glazing material (all with an ultra-violet blocking component) is cut for the artwork (clear UV blocking, reflection control, different types of plexiglass, and yes, museum glass) and matched up to the matted artwork. Sometimes hand-made spacers are prepared to separate the artwork from the glazing.

Finally, the components are lovingly assembled, the back of the frame is closed up, backing paper applied, hanging hardware, plastic coated wire and protective felt discs are added, and our gallery sticker is put on the back of the dust cover. The finished frame is put inside a protective bag and carefully stored on fabric-lined shelving, separated by individual dividers. The work order status is updated, and an email goes out, followed by a phone call to let you know that your piece is ready to go.

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