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Edward's Corner

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Over the past year we have examined those qualities basic to our service. Since we are in the same shop, working with the same materials, for the same customers, it seems that this would be obvious.

It turns out that we have different ways to describe who we are and what we do. At our core I think we hold many of  the same values and goals but it is challenging to articulate. This is particularly difficult for me since I have seen this business grow for such a long time.

What attracted me to picture framing were the options. Here was a very basic process: joining four pieces of wood together to protect a picture. But from the start I imagined different ways to apply this simple process.

In the seventies there was no formal educational program to teach the standard way of picture framing or starting a frame business. So with great enthusiasm, I explored various furniture, framing and finishing businesses and factories. 

I was attracted to traditional methods used in these crafts  but was constantly considering how to apply them in a new way. That was over 36 years ago and I am still seeking new methods and new ways to apply them. 

I also have grown increasingly aware of the distinct ways in which our artisans approach their work. This exploration has become a critical part of who we are but it can be challenging when trying to deliver a consistent product to our customers.


Edward's Corner

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Money Talks

Several weeks ago I was sitting down with members of a family business talking money. We were focused on the bottom line when to my surprise the CFO  mentioned that what he values about looking at the numbers is that it helps to direct him toward what is truly interesting  in a business. The numbers are not merely the bottom line but a way of seeing. They can be a way to become more aware of the human and creative aspects of our work. Overly concerned about what we needed to do to maintain our  financial success, I found his view a welcome relief.

Following the money can be a way  of bringing  value to our work at the shop. The cost of labor and materials and operations is the ground, the reality of our work. To look at these details is to pay careful attention to what we do, what we have and what we use.  We can be anxious about ways to make the finances work and seek to control our future or we can observe what is working and  learn from  our exploration. We can discount or avoid what we need to charge or we can use our pricing as a way to affirm the value of how we hand craft a frame and serve our customers. Paying attention to how we work with money can be an opportunity to  better conserve our resources   and to value our talents and our labor. Putting a price on our service is a way to affirm to our customers  the value of our service. 

Money talks. 


On the Road

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IMG_8716-1.JPGby Edward Wright

When I first started the business, I would design at least one sample a week. I was constantly experimenting with new finishes and patterns. Some of you may remember how excited I was to show you the newest design and get your input. I was so wrapped up in creating that I did not always document my creations.

This process satisfied my artistic temperament but made it impossible for me or other artisans to duplicate the samples you were showing your customers. At times it seems our present structure stifles our individual creativity, but as we refine our process I find my own creativity supported by the perspective and skills of other artisans.

As many of you know, I go out once a week to deliver frames and update your sample selections. One of the major benefits of these trips is to get your input on the designs we develop in the shop.

We design moulding patterns based on traditional shapes and custom sizes that meet our particular preferences for carving and finishing. We then research the market for current styles, colors and our customers' needs to determine a design for the frame.

Our artisans experiment with various techniques to develop new finishes. When we then determine the finish works, we document up to 20 steps used in building the frame, photograph it and make a shop sample. This work is intensive and time consuming but since it reflects the contribution of everyone in the shop and our customers, the results are very satisfying.

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