Today’s guest post is from the folks at Needle in a Haystack, my LNS. I am reprinting their recent newsletter article about what to look for in a framer with their permission. The article is in two parts. Part One was published yesterday. Part Two is below.
How do they align the project?
For my own work I put basting lines in my fabric where the edge of foam core would be, so I know I’ve stretched it straight onto the foam core/mat board backing. I just use sewing thread in a color I can see and can easily remove (don’t use floss since it can leave a residue when you pull it out). I rarely do this with needlepoint since typically I’m wrapping it at the edge of the stitching anyway. But you want to make sure the framer understands the importance of getting it completely square. You don’t want to get it back and find it’s off 2 threads from top to bottom, unless that doesn’t bother you – as you can guess, it bothers me :-).
If they use glass, do they use spacers and what type of glass?
I rarely use glass personally but there are times when it’s the right option. Make sure that they are using spacers so that the glass does not sit directly on the stitching. If you have a mat between the stitching and the glass you might not need spacers unless the stitching is very tall and would touch the underside of the glass. For heirloom quality work, use Museum glass, which is very clear. It’s more expensive but well worth it for those special pieces.
Do they block your work if it needs it?
It is very rare that a framer will block needlework since it involves a whole other skill set. But ask them if they do blocking and find out more about how they do that if they indicate they offer that service. Since most won’t, you might need to send it to a finishing service to have it blocked before taking it to the framer. For individual pieces that look like they need blocking, talk to the framer first to see if they think blocking is required. If it’s slightly out of shape it might not since the mounting base will help it keeps its shape. However if it’s seriously out of square blocking would likely be required. [Note from Janet: Some finishers offer blocking only service, it’s worth asking your finisher about this.]
How do they store your project?
While you might not think this is important, I believe you also want to know how your work is being stored before it’s being framed. If it’s crumpled up in some corner, perhaps you need another framer. If they wrap it up in tissue to keep wrinkles away and store it in a clean storage container, you might have more confidence in the rest of their work as well.
What do they charge and what is the turn around time?
I didn’t start with this since I think the other questions are more important to flesh out first. Custom framing is never inexpensive. And just because a framer charges a lot does not mean they will do a good job with needlework. So once you’ve determined that they might be a good framer for your projects, then is the time to find out the price of the work. Most framers will charge for mounting the work in addition to the actual framing. It’s the mounting work that’s really the hard part for needlework so don’t be shocked at seeing an extra charge for that. They might be able to do quick jobs or they might take a couple of months, but finding that out ahead of time is also useful.
If you feel comfortable with the framer and are not able to see samples of their needlework framing, take them something you aren’t as worried about to do as a first one. And if they are not willing to listen to constructive criticism, find someone else. This needs to be a two way street for awhile until you’re confident in them.
Another option is to learn how to do the mounting work yourself and then only have the framer do the frame and putting it all together. This is in fact what I do these days (granted I’ve not had much to frame of late since I’ve not finished as many projects as I’d like). I do private lessons on this occasionally for people who want to learn. Hopefully when my life settles down a bit I’ll do a video on this part.
For those of you who don’t mind sending your work away to get framed I can recommend Deb at Stitchville USA in Minneapolis, MN and Sandy at Attic Needlework in Mesa, AZ. Both do really great needlework framing work. Many other needlework shops around the country have their own framing department so that’s another avenue to check out.
I hope you find this helpful information for finding a good framer for your work. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – your needlework projects deserve the best!
About Janet M Perry
Janet Perry is the Internet's leading authority on needlepoint. She designs, teaches and writes, getting raves from her fans for her innovative techniques, extensive knowledge and generous teaching style. A leading writer of stitch guides, she blogs here and lives on an island in the northeast corner of the SF Bay with her family
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