Monthly Archives: July 2012

Know your Olympic torches

The fine folks at Roma Moulding recently posted this photo on their Facebook page of a framed Olympic torch from the 2010 games in Vancouver. It immediately caught our eye, standing out as being much different, not only from this year’s torch, but from practically anything one might think of when hearing the phrase “Olympic torch.” So that prompted us to look into the past at other torch designs and find out how much any have varied from the norm.
This first example was 1 of 22 torches made for the 1952 Helsinki Summer Games. The earlier designs appear to be the most torch-like. But you can see in later years how they became more stylized. Just compare this one to the 2008 Beijing torch at the bottom.

This 1956 Melbourne torch was based on the classic 1948 London lamp torch.

An artist at Disney, John Hench created this special 3-D design for the 1960 Squaw Valley torch.

From the 1976 Innsbruck Winter Games –

From the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games –

On the left, the 1998 Nagano torch was based on a traditional Japanese torch. Industrial designer André Ricard created the 1992 Barcelona torch.

The theme of “Fire and ice” was reflected in this torch from the 2002 Winter games in Salt Lake City.

Chinese heritage was on display in the torch from the last summer Olympics, with its scroll design and the “lucky cloud” pattern.

This post was a great lesson in design for us. Truly, how many ways could one envision such a simple device that serves an important but basic function? It must be able to carry fire while being held aloft by hand – that’s it. Yet each of these examples appear quite different from one another, and still aesthetically pleasing. Hmmmm, perhaps Olympic torches are not all that different, design-wise, from custom frames.


Flowers are beautiful. When they’re dead and in a frame.

Proving once again that we can frame practically anything, the über crafty staff at our North Andover location sent us these photos of some dried flowers from 1950. The design they used came out looking so great that we had to share ’em right away. How does one securely attach delicate flowers that are over half a century old? At first, we were stumped too, but their solution was elegant and simple. They attached a sheet of acetate over the flowers before matting them. Three fairly neutral but still complementary mat colors were selected – anything less than 3 would not have looked deserving for such a beautiful item. Then, they added Museum Glass so as not to add any glare to the acetate – Museum Glass is 99% reflection-free. You can tell right away that this
piece would definitely be the highlight of any living space. Great job, you guys!

Turn this frame store inside out!

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog post to bring you this breaking, up-to-the-minute news! Our Natick location, the second oldest store in the company, is in the midst of being renovated even as you read this (as long as you’re reading it on Wednesday, July 25, 2012.) The second of our stores – Arlington was the first – to get a facelift, Natick will soon have a new corner sample wall, super cool photo collage signage, new carpet in the front, and new floor tile in the back. We’ll be sure to bring you some “after” pics as soon as the dust has cleared, but here are some work-in-progress images to give you an idea of what was involved.

Our crack team of contractors (actually, it was the owners, Bob & Barry, and some brave volunteers from our staff) carried much of the store outside in order to get access to the old carpet. It’s really too bad that the rest of us couldn’t be there to help out. *sigh*

Here you can see the color of the new carpet. On the left is the wall of corner samples where we meet with new customers to offer design ideas. Come back soon to see photos of how great that’ll look and hopefully we’ll be able to report that things are back to normal. Don’t forget, Natick is open while this is happening, so stop by to cheer us on!

Slingshot yourself around the world

Ever wanted to swing across the Golden Gate bridge, Tarzan style? We found this music video that uses some fairly simple camera techniques in conjunction with one another, resulting in the feeling that you’re being shot by a catapult between two points in international locales. Director Kevin Parry created the effect and featured it in his video for musician Kalle Matson, shot by Andrea Nesbitt.

Parry describes how it was done – “The zooms are done by setting up a camera at each end location and filming the camera zooming in and out. The middle parts are done by putting a camera on the front of my scooter and driving the spanning distance. All that footage is then animated after the fact, only using a very small amount of the frames that were actually filmed. And everything is lined up, cropped, etc. to fit my needs. The spins are done by carefully mapping out a circle around whatever target, and picking roughly 36 locations to shoot a still from. Those photos are then processed, and lined up after the fact.”

DAna-NAna-NAna-NAna, DAna-NAna-NAna-NAna, Bat-Mural!

Seeing as how the latest Batman movie opens tomorrow, it seemed a good time to let our nerd-flag fly with a post about a painting of the Dark Knight. And not just any painting, but one that’s 150 feet high! This ad for the movie is located in New York at 315 Park Avenue South, one of the only places where advertising is still painted. Four painters from Art FX Murals worked from sunrise to sunset for five days in temperatures approaching 100 degrees to complete the painting, knowing that it may be up for only about 6 weeks before it’s painted over for the next Hollywood blockbuster. Not a whole lot has changed when it comes to making a mural as big as this. A rough outline, or “cartoon”, is marked out on the wall giving the painters the basic shapes. Each one of them has a print-out of the design strapped to his arm to use as a
guide as they fill in the details. Cans of oil paint are mixed for the larger areas, and the smaller sections are added on using traditional methods of blending.

As crafts people, it was gratifying to find this info on Tor.Com about a skill that does not rely on computers or other high-tech machinery. Sometimes the simplest, and oldest, solution is the best.

Zachas brings murals to life

We took a break from street art for a while ’cause it was getting pretty intensive on here. But you can thank Ernest Zacharevic, aka Zachas, for pulling us back in. The Lithuanian artist puts a spin on outdoor murals that’s so intuitive you’ll wonder why you haven’t seen something like this before. Well, maybe you have, but certainly not quite this good. Zachas’s painting is striking in itself – more technically adept than what one typically sees in street art. But the juxtaposition of the images with real world objects and clever positioning makes that much more of an impact. These can be found on the streets of Penang, Malaysia.
Zacharevic was one of six artists featured in the site-specific RESCUBE exhibition, part of the George Town Festival 2012 in Penang. In another part of the festival, Zacharevic organized “Mirrors George Town,” consisting of 6 to 12 large-scale murals throughout core neighborhoods celebrating the town’s multiculturalism.

You have to cut HOW MANY holes?!

A stack of snapshots printed at CVS: $8.99
A professionally cut mat with openings to hold each photo: $varies
The way they look in a custom frame hanging in your home: priceless.

One of our customers had a great idea for their grandmother’s birthday gift. They took photos of the 19 (!) grandkids, each one posed with something in the shape of a letter. When the photos were laid out, it spelled “Happy Birthday Grammy”. They just needed the pics framed together to complete the gift. So we explained that the best way to display them and the safest method for the photos, was to cut a multi-opening mat. Multi-opening
mats are tricky under normal circumstances, but this was 19 photos, each one a slightly different size. Yikes!
We began by mapping out the diagram in the image above. But because the arrangement is not symmetrical, that means that we have to draw it on the back of the mat in reverse. Typically, we manage that in our heads, however this was so complex that we scanned the first diagram into a computer and flipped it so as to avoid any human error. Now we had a map showing us exactly where to make the 76 cuts that would give us 19 openings. Oh yeah, and it required an oversize mat. After copying the diagram onto the back of the mat, it was a matter of a steady hand, an hour, and a lot of patience.

Band-aids, forks, and plastic army men in your carpet

Doubtless, these items would make the most uncomfortable carpets imaginable. But a Dutch art collective named We Make Carpets has used these and other common objects to comment on consumerist society. Their carpets are a contemporary interpretation of wealth and the disposable nature of the materials. Why carpets? The weaving that’s required to make typical carpets is a centuries old skill and perhaps the earliest example of what we now know as applied art. We Make Carpets is made up of Marcia Nolte, Stijn van der Vleuten and Bob Waardenburg, 3 artists who enjoy juxtaposing this traditional art form with the modern items that have been repurposed as art.
Now pay attention to where you’re stepping…

David Habben lets drawings develop on their own

We really like how David Habben’s approach to art has nothing to do with high-tech video artistry. Or an elaborate installation of lights in a remote forest. And he can’t be accused of abstract conceptualism. Habben creates unique and beautiful illustrations by using a simple challenge that he gave himself: draw a random shape and fill it in with a character that conforms to that shape. Just good ol’ fashioned creative drawing. Maybe that’s why they really stand out.

With this sketchbook, I’ve been challenging my creativity by starting first with a simple shape, drawn without the end goal in mind. Once the shape is drawn, I go about filling it with a character that develops a story of its own. The idea here is to get out of my own way, to let the drawing develop itself without forcing it into a desired narrative or purpose.

Rebuilding a car engine, stop motion style

Can rebuilding a classic car engine be an art? Evidently.
You don’t have to be a craftsman to appreciate what was involved in making this video. Even tho’ framers aren’t mechanics, we were blown away by what YouTuber nothinghereok accomplished when he decided to replace the engine in his Triumph Spitfire. After finding a used one online, he not only completely dismantled it, restored every part to like-new condition, installed it, and brought it back to life. He also captured the entire process as a stop motion animation masterpiece. Adding “In the Hall of the Mountain King” as the soundtrack is the icing on the cake – a touch just as perfect as the comedic ending.