Harbour: What’s the Story?
The art your customers choose to frame almost always has a good story behind it. For the custom picture framer, hearing those stories and adding our own chapter is one of our job satisfactions. And the more unique the piece, the better the story. When it comes to the story behind a frame, most are cut from the same cloth…er, tree.
The majority of frames on the market are factory-made and the story goes like this. Forests become logs and then boards. Boards get shaped into profiled mouldings. Mouldings go through machines to sand, stain, gesso, paint, seal, or foil to make a frame-worthy finish. You get a sample. You sell it. You frame it. Customer lives happily ever after. The end.
But then there are frames with more interesting stories to tell; frames made with less machinery and a closer connection to their natural forest origins. And that brings us to our story today, the recently introduced Harbour collection.
This beautiful line is entirely hand-finished. Made with lengths of fir from the north of Italy, the hand finishing process is designed to high-light rather than mask the natural grain of the wood. Each piece will be unique due to the nature of the organic material.
Offering frames like this will suit the customer looking for a higher level of custom. Picture framing is a natural fit with a growing trend toward the hand-crafted in home decor. In response to our world of mass production, there is an inclination toward the more ‘artisanal’, or ‘bespoke’ and products encompassing the tactility of craftsmanship.
In the Harbour line, all knots, chips, rough areas and grain variations are apparent in the length. The grain of the wood is enhanced with several passes by wire brush. The stained wood gets a wash of natural clays and a final wax finish to seal everything and add depth.
The particular closeness or openness of the grain along each moulding rail will absorb the color differently. Below are images of the samples we’re shipping out.
We’re not seeing much change in the Adirondack Black finish, but depending on the grain of the fir, the Marblehead White will have more or less grey, the New Hampshire Red may be brighter or darker and the Bar Harbour Blue Grey may have cooler or warmer accents.
Is this a manufacturing defect? No. This is the inherent quality of natural materials and hand-finishing processes. As the late Chuck Gudbrandsen, legendary artisan hard-wood picture frame manufacturer, would always say, “God makes the trees and he does the best he can, but he’s an artist and they just can’t all look the same.”
We are bringing this to your awareness so you can give your customers the right expectation for the end product you will create for them. Calusa Gallery of Naples, FL recently completed the job below for a customer. You can see the grain variations and that opposing rails are lighter or darker. But in the end this is a beautiful example of how Harbour frames up and embodies imperfect perfection.
Embracing the wabi-sabi in natural materials and offering unique finishes is a key component in the Bella moulding story. Our definition of quality makes room for inconsistencies when they come with inherent beauty. And we believe offering better and interesting designs will differentiate you from big box or the more generic on-line framing options. And when we stand out from the crowd of mediocre, we all live happily ever after.