Unusual custom framing 101: an antique purse

What’s the most interesting collectible you’ve ever heard of? You may not have answered “antique purses”, but you have to admit that it’s a pretty unique idea. We’ve been hip deep in ’em thanks to a regular customer who’s framed almost too many to count. This current assortment is particularly beautiful, so we thought we’d give you a behind-the-scenes while showing them off. They’re always challenging to design for two reasons: one, we’ve gotta come up with a frame that’s deserving enough, and two, the design has to accommodate the shape and depth of each purse.
This turquoise one needed an even deeper frame than normal because of the ornate clasp at the top. So we stacked two frames together. Inside the inner-most frame, we built walls out of black foam-core to hold the mats at the front, creating a shallow shadow box. But this wasn’t deep enough, so…
…we bought ourselves a little bit more room by attaching spacers to the glass that went inside the outer frame.

When the frames were stacked together, there were several elements – the spacers, the thickness of the inner frame, the mats, and lastly the foam-core walls – between the glass and the purse itself.

The purse was carefully sewn onto a mat. This has to be done with three things in mind: it can’t damage the purse, it should be practically invisible so as not to be distracting, and it has to be secure so that it doesn’t come loose over time.

Below, you can see the final result. There’s also a fillet on the inside of the inner frame. We always use museum glass on these purses. While you may notice a glare in the photo, standard conservation glass would be much more reflective. We took several photos, but simply could not capture just how impressive this is in person. All of the different elements came together in such a way that it looks as though the purse and framing were all made by the same artisan at the same time. And that’s the goal of custom framing.

Here’s one more example that’s nearly finished. We used one of the hand-finished, Italian Roma frames, a suede mat on the top followed by a fillet, and a silk mat. We hope to have more photos for you soon of the other finished purses.
Do you have a special collection that you would like to see framed?

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