Master Classes Revealed

NEXT DATES SET FOR: 13th & 14th February 2010 - (click for details)

Richard Buttle, training developer for DIYframing & UK School of Framing, gives a personal view of the two master classes led by David Wilkie, prize winning, Guild Commended Framer.


High Point of the Year

Group working with David WilkieEvery year has its own special highlights. Sometimes it's a simple thing that is so satisfying, like introducing new kit into our basic training packages and see it really work. Others may be more obvious and dramatic, such as the amazing success of the new look website. On a personal level, developing the range of courses for DIYframing and UK School of Framing always gives me a great buzz. I also get the chance to work with so many people, in so many different parts of the country: that too has been especially satisfying this year. However, the true highlight of my year was having the chance to learn more about bespoke picture framing for myself and simply extend what I can do.

I have been framing for nearly 5 years, starting with my own photography, but rapidly developing a small but (happily) successful bespoke picture framing business on the Worcestershire / Warwickshire border. Most of my knowledge and skills have been developed through research, nosing around galleries and having to find solutions to the challenges presented by customers. This year, I had the rare chance to sit in on the two Mount Cutting & Decoration master classes. My self-appointed brief was to record what David Wilkie did and turn it into a set of notes to accompany future classes.

To work for me, 3 simple questions needed to be answered;

  1. Are the ideas practical and not too "self-indulgent";
  2. Could I have worked things out for myself?
  3. Are the ideas commercially and aesthetically viable?

Design, Inspired By Art

To say I was amazed would be an understatement. On the first count, I cannot believe the range of picture framing "special touches" David was prepared to share with us. He linked everything back to his ideas for the design, inspired from the artwork he was framing. Whether it was the choice of colour palette or particular type of spacing between boards, the success of everything depended on what it did for the look of the framed artwork. Whilst he would be the first to admit that entering competitions can be a more flamboyant end of his framing, David also demonstrated how he has drawn on his repertoire of skills when working for individuals and commercial organisations alike. So, we found out how to colour bevel edges on mount boards, colour mount board surfaces, create colour inserts and inlays as well as learning about a whole new range of mount cutting skills. Plus, we got to find out the sort of products he uses in a lot of his processes - none of them cost a fortune and you would be genuinely be surprised by some!


Close up of competition piece: Star Wars

Eureka Moments

I have tried putting colour lines and fills on mounts, but have always balked at the skills involved. Reading up on it and trying several different methods myself, I had relegated that particular effect to the most patient and saintly individuals to undertake. After 10 minutes explanation from David, it all made sense. Strangely, very little of what he demonstrated and explained had featured in any of the research and reading I had undertaken. Like so many of the ideas David talked about, he would get so far and then say: "I think it would probably be easier to do a quick demonstration." The range of practical ideas I picked up was amazing - many of them answering my favourite question, "How do they do that?" We kept getting the feeling you have when first learning how to cut double mounts properly: "Doh!" to quote Homer Simpson. What surprised me was how frequently that happened, especially as half of the group on the training had been in the framing business for some time. The simple pointers were just as fascinating, like how to part-peel off the backing of ATG tape to fine tune a position, before sticking board down permanently.


Portfolio of previous framing projects

Business Works

Finally, the most important test for me was how well these ideas could work commercially. David highlighted a way he works with some customers: it is a bit more of a design and commission package, where he agrees a budget before starting. That may not be how some of us can start out, but he did explore the notion of "up-selling". The idea of making people aware of what you can offer them is important and David backs that up with a folder containing examples of mount styles for customers to browse through, as well as an illustrated catalogue / file of types of framing projects he has completed. Another intriguing idea is to add some features in his framing to take it to a higher level. While he is not paid directly for it, he accounts for the expenditure as part of his marketing budget. Returning customers are then much more switched on about how he can work on their next piece of framing. So in a competitive market, being able and willing to offer a unique service clearly makes sense.

Register an interest in the next round of master classes.In just two days I really increased the repertoire of picture framing skills and ideas I can draw upon. I also learnt a massive amount about ways of using materials and kit to their full potential along with some great ideas for working with customers. The atmosphere of each day was exactly what a master class should be: a complete programme of planned ideas but with the tutor having the ability to tackle ideas generated by the group. This was all topped off with time for us to try things out practically with David giving support and guidance. As a result, there will be one or two rather special Christmas presents being sent this year.

If you want to make a difference to your picture framing, the simple fact is that these master classes are the best way to leap-frog what other framers are doing. The skills involved are well within the grasp of people used to doing their own framing, although the potential is really going to be developed by anybody selling their artwork or working within the framing industry.

Posted on: 4 Dec 2008@16:51:46, updated on: 4 Dec 2008@16:51:46.