Do it Yourself

The primary motivation to learn how to frame stuff was that framing is super expensive. The local arts-and-crafts store Michael's was quoting about $100-$120 to frame a Madhubani painting that we had got from India. Like most people who decide to have something framed for the first time you realise that the artwork being framed is the cheapest component of all the costs. Going to get framing done is like getting car-insurance. There are so many different options and picking one over the other can result in drastically different costs. There is a choice of mats - standard, acid-free, rag-paper. Then the choice of the frames - thin or thick wooden, metal, or fancy wooden. Choosing the correct kind of glass is not transparent business at all - there is plain glass, plexi-glass, non-reflective glass, UV-ray protected glass and other varieties. Soon you realise that $120 quoted was simply the base price. I walked away thinking it's not a coincidence that they call it framing.

Even if the initial driver to do-it-myself was cost (being a starving student and all that), DIY is not an option for cheapskates or the impatient. It's probably going to cost more and take much longer than you think.

First, is the research: I spent the next two months reading up on the subject (with books from the library, of course!) and another month buying the equipment and tools. If you thought the frameshop had too many options, wait till you decide to buy framing tools. There are mat cutters that are $25 and then there are mat cutters that are a few hundred dollars. It is ironic, that as a newbie you often better off getting the more expensive equipment, as it is the easiest to use. That never happens does it? So, you have to deal with the frustration of a fumbling beginner with less than ideal tools.

Second, is practice: Work on projects that don't matter. It's not a bright idea to start framing your masterwork while you are still learning to control the cutter. This process takes time and patience and perhaps a few bloodstains. After being off by an eight of an inch on one side and seeing the resulting disaster you really understand one the maxims of life: "Measure twice, cut once". It is rather humbling that after two decades spent in school, no one taught me this.

Slowly, but surely the pilgrim makes his progress. A few months and a couple hundred dollars later, I had the Madhubani painting framed. Factoring in the bamboo frame and non-reflective glass, the cost of getting it done and doing it myself were about the same. But, at the end of it that's not your first thought. The first and last thought is pride, despite the slight imperfections. And they call pride one of the seven Deadly Sins.

My friend, Tim has been trying to restore a vintage El Camino for the past couple of years. I have begun to believe that he never really intends on calling it quits on working on the car. It's always a work-in-progress. If he quit then there would be nothing more to learn, it will be just be like any other car. I have sat in another one of his rusty-but-not-trusty cars, an 1981 Toyota Tercel, thinking that a wheel might fall off any moment. But, unlike with some other people I haven't been the least bit scared since I know that Tim will be able to fix that car even if it may be a temporary fix with duct-tape. The powerful uses of duct-tape, that's another thing they don't teach you at school.

1 comment:

mekie said...

pray post a photo of the framed painting. we have to see it.