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In this issue:

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The Final Stretch…Latest Course From DIYframing


Whenever you try something for the first time you are wary.  You know what some of the difficulties might be, but other problems catch you broadside, completely unforeseen.  When we start a new training session, we try to minimise these issues, but inevitably things change after the first session. A prime example was on the Frame Finishes course, run for the first time in 2006.  Everything was planned to let people try different products on separate moulding samples.  Everyone was so keen to get started, that they immediately started putting one product on top of another.  The solution was, in the next session, to cut out that tester stage and allow more time for people to build up their own range of “complete” finishes, on a range of moulding chevrons.

However, whether it was the make-up of the group, or the nature of the session, our first run at Stretching and Framing Canvas Based Artwork went really well: apart from the lack of a dynamic course title.  A bit of careful explanation, about how to plan each of different projects, and everybody just got on with it.

The concept behind this day came from our experience with the Framing Fabric courses.  We suddenly started to have people join that training day, who really had very little interest in how to work with cross-stitch and embroidery.  They were looking at stretching larger canvases (mainly photo prints on canvas) and wanted to know how to build those, increasingly fashionable, canvas blocks.  The Fabric Framing days are designed around planning and completing your own project in the afternoon session, having heard all about different methods of preparing fabric based artwork for framing, in the morning. So, for these photography-minded individuals, the afternoon became all about stretching and framing a canvas.

The main problem was that a lot of extra information needed to be passed on informally;

  • How to make a stretcher without using pre-made stretcher bars
  • How to create the blocks where the image “wraps around” the stretcher
  • How to create a tray frame etc

It became increasingly clear that this could be a training day, in its own right.  In fact, what emerged was a day that also attracted people other than purely photographers; although those were in the majority. There was also interest from those who wanted to find out about framing oil and acrylic pieces, painted on canvas. Some others, who wanted to increase their framing skills, anticipating setting up a framing service in the future, also seemed to benefit greatly from the day.

In many ways, it is not the most demanding style of framing: however, with a bit of support and inside knowledge, the results are really stunning. Everybody completed two projects in one day: a stretched canvas block; a framed canvas on a stretcher.  Some took it slightly further, producing a shadow frame.  Here the stretched block is set a little way from the edge of the frame, revealing the image “bleed” around the stretcher and then the narrow moulding edge.

From our point of view, there is not a lot that needs changing, and we are looking forward to the next run, in April, at Beaconsfield.

Why not check the website for more detail?  Click Training Zone: Search Programme and look for Stretching & Framing Canvas Based Artwork.

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DIYframing Going Boldly


Every time we visit Focus on Imaging we are always delighted by how many people from all over Europe we meet up with.  It is always an easy claim to make that, “we have gone global.”  However it is true to say that DIYframing does feel it has an “international” interest.   Because of this we make sure that we know how to address the needs of non-UK customers. 

Over 2006 we made real inroads into Scotland and Wales, where we are very aware of the thriving creative, artistic output in those areas.  It always takes a little while to be known and for people to feel that they can rely on continued support, but the message has clearly gone home there.  We will be returning to Glasgow for a Business Development Week in early March 2007 and another Photography Framing Weekend in Wales (Cardiff area) is scheduled for April 2007.

Ireland is the next frontier we intend to open up.  In 2007 we are already set to visit Belfast for a photography framing weekend, with a tour to follow of the rest of Ireland.  Assuming the venture is successful, this will become a regular feature of our annual programme.

Of course it’s a mark of good business practice that, when you spot a trend you adapt to it.  So it’s no coincidence that our major training sessions happen to be near to airports.  Because of those experiences at trade shows, it has now become a conscious effort to base our training programme at venues within easy access of international airports.

Our base is at Beaconsfield, a few minutes drive from Heathrow.  We regularly have visitors from all over the world joining our sessions here.  In 2006 one lady joined us, from Tunisia where she lives, to attend a Photo Framing weekend.  With her partner working in the UK and a base in London for the stop over, it made good sense to have a couple of days, training in the UK.  Two other students, both from Switzerland, signed up for a Business Development Week.  Neither party knew each other prior to the course.  The amazing coincidence was that, having booked up independently, they find out that they live within a few miles of each other: useful for exchanging ideas and talking things through once back home.

One of our first students from Europe, was Katarina.  She is starting a framing business and art gallery in Finland, taking over some premises from the current owner, who is retiring.  She spent a week with us at our venue in Heald Green, Manchester, just 3 miles from the airport.  She thoroughly enjoyed herself and had no problems taking back to Finland the four frames and several mounts, which she had made during the Business Week.

“It is important for us to recognise that, as well as the ex-pat market, there are many people, worldwide, wanting to do their own framing,” explains Duncan McDonald, CEO DIYframing.  “Whilst it is not always feasible to take the training abroad, we can ensure that our courses are as easily accessible as possible.”

Main training venues for 2007 therefore are Glasgow, Manchester, Beaconsfield (Heathrow) and Nuneaton (Birmingham / Coventry).  Each is within easy access of a major, international airport.  And, in fact, our whole Irish “tour” took shape through discussions we had with a keen photographer, who came over from Belfast, via Bristol airport, to join a Photo Framing Weekend in South Wales

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Focus On Imaging 2007

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There is any number of reasons why a trip to the NEC Birmingham for the Focus On Imaging 2007 show is so worthwhile.  Just about every industry linked with the imaging has a presence there: from print papers to latest digital SLR cameras.  There is a massive amount of information and advice freely available, with some of the top professionals leading seminars and making informal presentations.  It actually is a whole “day out”.  With the NEC so close to airport, rail links and motorways, there is no difficulty getting there – probably why it is an international show and attracts so many big names to have amazing stands there.

Talking of which, a very important reason for coming will be to visit the DIYframing stand.  It will be our most “open” stand to date and we will we have a full range of tools to show from mount cutters to the three major professional workshop tools: Framers Edge mountcutter; Alpha underpinner; Charnwood moulding chopper.  There will be plenty of staff to offer advice, demonstrate equipment and discuss future projects.

In the past, this show has been the starting point for many people in realising all sorts of ambitions.  We have shown people how to frame work for exhibition, competition and sale.  We have helped to launch new business, giving advice on how to set up a workspace and the best equipment to install for the type and quantity of sales in mind.  We regularly show how specific pieces of framing equipment can be used and illustrate the pro’s and cons of alternatives within a range. We have helped to pin down which course (where and when) might suit a surprise birthday present. We have often given advice on how to carry out a particular framing project.  And sometimes we simply have a chat for a few minutes with people we have only spoken to on the telephone (ok, perhaps this one isn’t somebody’s main ambition).

Whatever your reason, come and find us: Focus On Imaging 2007, Birmingham NEC
February 25th – 28th 2007: 10.00 am – 6.00 pm daily (Feb 28th closes at 5.00 pm)

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Back Ache - Get A Workbench!


The first thing to “go” when doing more than just the occasional bit of picture framing is your back.  This is frequently as a result of working at the wrong height.  Kitchen tables and even workmate style benches allow you to do the job, but try staying there for 5 or 6 hours, for a couple of days and the problems start.

Ideally, you should have work surfaces at roughly hip-height … yours of course.  Even kitchen work tops are at a more comfortable height than tables.  Finding a suitable workbench which doesn’t cost a small fortune is not easy and making your own may not be an option.

The best solution we have found is a self assembly workbench, which uses metal legs, supports and bracing.  Everything taps into position with no need for nuts and bolts; although the occasional whack from a rubber mallet helps to make joints tight.  It has an adjustable shelf, which also provides added stability to the finished structure. Surfaces are made from thick, chipboard: the panels just drop into place.  DIYframing has used these at the last 4 trade shows, which we have attended.  We found them to be sturdy, spacious and very comfortable to work at. They are especially appreciated when demonstrating the mount cutters, which is always a killer on the back after 4 or 5 hours.

During our training sessions we always identify the size of work table as being a prime limiting factor in the size of framing project you can undertake. Two of these workbenches together give you a firm work surface 1.4m x 1.2 m, accommodating any job using sheet materials at the maximum dimensions readily available. 

These workbenches may not be the most elegant pieces of workshop furniture but they do the job perfectly, much better than many other solutions, and only cost £59.57 (+ vat) per unit.

Click the following link to see the benches on our website:  WORKBENCH

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Case Study - Ian Oliver, Photographer & Framer

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Ian Oliver lives in the Scottish Borders and has always been interested in photography.  The hobby changed into something more significant, about 5 years ago.  He was at a show, looking at exhibitions of work and hearing seminars led by some of the leading lights in outdoor photography.  A number of Ian’s friends were keen to point out that his shots would certainly not look out of place amongst the work on show.  Although not a person to push himself forward, this encouragement led Ian to exhibiting some of his own work.   Things moved on and, following a photographic holiday and the trainer’s good advice to join a camera club, Ian is now the Chairman of the Galashiels Camera club.  He has won prizes for his work and achieved LRPS (Licentiateship of The Royal Photographic Society) in 2003.  Since then he has worked on producing another series of images which will be submitted in the near future to achieve  ARPS (Associateship of The Royal Photographic Society).

With the opportunity on offer to take an early break from his career with Scottish Water, Ian was looking for ways of selling his photography.  He spent time on an ADOBE Photoshop course before finding DIYframing, when searching for information about framing.  He joined a Photography Framing Weekend in Beaconsfield in 2005.  These two days encouraged him to see the possibility of, not only adding a new dimension to his own work, but he could also start to build up the framing side as another income stream.

Having already met with his local Business Gateway team, Ian was, therefore, already planning for the future when he joined DIYframing’s Business Development Week in Glasgow, April 2006.  The course helped to develop the practical skills needed for a whole range of bespoke framing projects, as well as crystallising his thinking on ideas relating to marketing his own artwork and simple, practical issues like setting up a workspace. 

The outcome is that Ian made a clean break from Scottish Water, before starting to work on his new business. Now, several months later, he sees himself as a photographer and framer with a strong business portfolio which also includes web design and some commercial photography for catalogues (and web work). 

He renovated his garage, lining the interior with insulation, cladding and installing a double glazed window.  The main framing kit he bought was the DIYframing Series 52 Pro Workshop, which has served well so far: biggest order 15 frames in 4 days.  In addition, he also bought a “table-end” guillotine which enables him to cut to size large sheets of mountboard and backing board.  The work tables, storage and work surfaces he built for himself, having first considered how he could best use the space available.    He has created some storage space in the workshop, but as he tends to order in materials as needed, this is kept to a minimum and so problems with damp have not really arisen: a simple oil filled radiator keeps the chill out anyway.  

The official launch was in October 2006, which came shortly after completing the workspace.  An open “weekend” allowed friends, family and local contacts to see what was on offer.  In fact, that was enough to start the work coming in and, in many ways, a massive publicity drive has not been necessary yet

Other ploys for marketing work that Ian has used include developing a range of greetings cards: cost-effective to produce, looks very professional, the web address and name become known, and cards are simply, good value for customers.  He has also produced leaflets for distribution through local shops along with the usual small-ad cards.  He has attended the occasional craft fair, but has been careful to choose ones where people are looking specifically for artwork rather than more general crafts. 

Ian already has one contract lined up to produce a website for a group of holiday chalets as well as providing framed landscapes as part of the interior design.  Once the chalets are open for rental, visitors will be able to purchase his work “from the wall” as a souvenir of their holiday.

Ian is the first to point out that this way of working will not make him rich over night.  However, with a good product, well researched and targeted marketing, not to mention a bit of lateral thinking, there is no reason why you cannot achieve some success right away.  And of course Ian is another example of someone, now able to work in a sphere that is more about enjoyment than nine to five.

We all wish Ian the very best of luck with his business and thank him for sparing the time to talk to us about his experiences. 

For the complete article with photos and links to Ian’s site, click Ian Oliver


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Extreme Framing


Ever heard of extreme ironing?  This is where people take an ironing board, iron and a bit of washing to bizarre places and have pictures taken of them ironing.

Not to be outdone, somebody here had the bright idea that this could be something to try out with framing.  Some reservations about transporting a mitre trimmer up a tree naturally spring to mind.  However your first view of extreme framing is currently underway, with pictures to follow, in the very next newsletter.  Believe me this will not be for the faint-hearted!

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Thank you for your continued support.

Until next time...


February 2007

We are now well into 2007 with all of the exciting bits yet to come.  Great optimism always follows at this time of year, occasionally unfounded.  However we can supply a number of reasons to be cheerful as the days get longer.  First of all, we have some new courses that have only just surfaced: Adding Decorative Finishes to Frames and Stretching and Framing Canvas Based Artwork.  Also, the long-promised Custom Framing course will go ahead, over 2 days, at Beaconsfield later in the year: programme details will follow in the next newsletter.  Then there is the increased number of framing courses running through this year, with the venues extending to all main areas of the UK and Ireland.   On top of that, we will be coming to trade shows and exhibitions at a range of new venues: Cheltenham, Belfast and Cardiff.

As well as giving some details of these new ventures, we also have articles in this newsletter which will inspire and inform you.  Find out how Ian Oliver, a professional photographer in Scotland, joined DIYframing on a number of courses, before setting up a bespoke framing workshop to supplement income from his photography.  And then there is extreme framing…


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