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In this issue:

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Photography Framing Specials

These days have been a great success and are now running both as specialist weekends as well as now being offered over two days, mid-week (in response to numerous requests).  For full details of what the course contains, use this link to open an article about framing photography: Photography Framing Specials

The next set of photograhy courses start at the end of the summer, but they may well be filled quickly so book early.

  • Saturday 16th September & Sunday 17th September - Nuneaton 
  • Tuesday 19th September & Wednesday 20th September - Stoke on Trent 
  • Saturday 23rd September & Sunday 24th September - Colchester
  • Saturday 31st September & Sunday 1st October - Nottingham
  • Tuesday 25th October & Wednesday 26th Octoberber -Glasgow
  • Saturday 4th November & Sunday 5th November - Cheltenham
  • Saturday 2nd December & Sunday 3rd December - Nuneaton 
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The George Park Story Part 3 - Making The Dream Work

It is strange how things work out.  George clearly knows what he wants his framing business to end up like and has the vision to see its development through.  There is no detailed master-plan and yet the evolution of Dreamcatcher Framing Company has been like completing a jigsaw puzzle, where pieces come to hand at exactly the right time.  The planned summerhouse being able to be modified into a workspace to help cope with increased framing work is one example of the way things have fallen neatly into place.

Another is the coincidence of a bulk order for some framed photography coming just after new workshop tools had been ordered.  The over-arching dream has always been to “grow” the framing business alongside his continued day-job.  Eventually the emphasis will switch from one to the other so that there is a steady income ready for a leisurely retirement. 

The Dreamcatcher name developed from dreamcatchers that George had seen and acquired partly in conjunction with his wife’s interest in varying alternative folklores and spiritual beliefs.  A good way of explaining the notion of Dreamcatchers is to quote from native American tradition:

“The Indians believe that the night air is filled with dreams both good and bad. The dreamcatcher, when hung in your place of rest, swinging freely with the air, catches the dreams as they flow by. The good dreams know the way, slipping through the outer holes and slide down the soft feathers so gently that many times the sleeper does not know that he/she is dreaming. The bad dreams not knowing the way, get tangled in the web and perish with the first light of the new day.”

As well as being an enticing way of making a statement about his framing services (Capturing Your Memories In Frames) George also recognised a unique logo for his business in the look of a Dreamcatcher.  In fact it took about 4 months for him to be happy with the image and font style for the Dreamcatcher Framing Co logo.  Again, George photographed the dreamcatcher and designed the logo himself, but the time has been well spent because it provides a highly distinctive and memorable trademark:  making an impact is a vital part of marketing the business.

At this point, early advertising and marketing revolved around the circulation of fliers and pamphlets.  Using an insert in a local newspaper managed to target 20 000 homes, but in the end, it was not a huge success.  What worked better has been the hard slog that George and his wife have been through, personally posting fliers through letter boxes. 

Often you bump into people and it is that dialogue and simple networking that starts the ball rolling.  Capturing a customer in this way and delivering top quality work at good prices has meant that Dreamcatcher Framing Company’s reputation is constantly growing.  At the moment George’s customer base is firmly based in the domestic market place with the occasional “commercial” project coming from getting himself known and being in the right place at the right time.  You address a “home” project only to find that the customer also remembers the work you have done when needing something to be framed for their workplace.

The second major drive for George has been the Dreamcatcher website.  Who designed and constructed the site? No prizes for guessing. Any website takes a while to complete and George’s is no exception.  Starting by mapping out the look of a page, the essential menus and how pages progress from one to another, the site has taken almost 9 months to arrive at the current “live” version.  A great deal of thought has also gone into making it clear to read and easy for clients to move around.  Similarly, attention was given to ensuring that the site would feature positively in listings and searches.  Buying a search engine optimisation package is not cheap, but has increased the number of site hits.  The outcome is that George now receives regular enquires for quotes from the site.  The best result so far is that Marie Curie Cancer Care commissioned framing of a cricket bat signed by the victorious England team in the Ashes and of a photograph of Colin Montgomerie with a signed flag from the 18th tee at St. Andrews; these items were to be auctioned off to raise funds for the charity.  And who knows what projects will come off of the back of that?

George is now looking to branch out into wedding photography, spotting the earning potential in another of his hobbies.  Having developed a number of good contacts through his photography interests, he has a friend and mentor guiding him in this endeavor.  Undertaking a number of wedding shoots for family, a couple of (very) willing volunteers and using an opportunity to shadow a professional photographer, George will develop a portfolio of work to market his photography service.  This will then be marketed through a new website (under construction) using the working title George Park Photography.  It also provides another potential source for the bespoke framing service.

Would George change anything in how he has gone about developing the business?  No regrets, nothing different – except perhaps having more disposable money to make the process a little easier.

Is the enthusiasm still there?  No hesitation – George would be happy to work 12 hours a day at the bottom of his garden doing work he still thinks of as fun.

So, is George happy with how things are going?  At the outset he reckoned on 4 years to turn a profit.  Two years in, things are progressing well and he is confident that his “retirement dream” has been captured.

For the illustrated version of this article follow the link: Making The Dream Work

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DIYframing Open Day Seminars

Remember the DIYframing Open Days listed for Friday 4th August and Saturday 5th August?  We did mention that we would be running some seminars on those days.  Outlined below are the titles and descriptions for those sessions. 

FRIDAY 4th August

  • Preparing Needlecraft For Framing:  If you are disappointed with how your work has been framed in the past or if you are confused by how frame needlework well, this short seminar will put you right.  We look at 3 simple techniques for attaching work into a system that then become a simple framing projects.  The best bit is that all attachments are reversible and will not damage the work.  They even offer solutions as to how you can simply stretch work to bring it back into its intended shape.
  • 10 Simple steps to make BIG profits from framing at home. Following a simple "case study" approach, we look at how you can turn a hobby into something that pays for itself.  We look at basic requirements for space, equipment and materials; where to look for business; where your expenses are (therefore how much to charge); basic organisational tools

SATURDAY 5th August

  • Producing the WOW factor: Framing can either perform a basic "packaging" function or it can make a statement.  At its best, top quality framing will add an extra dimension to the artwork it is showing.  In this session we illustrate some of the easy principles that will take your work to a new level.  If you want something to be noticed then hear what we have to say so that you turn out "framing with knobs on"!
  • Planning the perfect workspace: No matter how big or small the space you have available to work in, there are some important considerations to be made when designing a work area.  How easy is it to take materials from delivery to storage? What is the largest picture you can frame? How do you store moulding?  Using two working examples to illustrate how you can organise the least promising looking areas, we will aim to provide solutions to some problems and help you to think a way through others. 

Each session will last about 45 minutes with some time for Q&A built in (or at the end). The best news of all is that these sessions are free.  The only problem is that you will have to register an interest and book a seat in advance, as there is every possibility that we will quickly run out of space.

For other features of the Open Days please check in the News section of the website or refer to last month's newsletter.

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Product Launch - Series 100 Professional Workshop

Although a new professional workshop kit has been promoted at recent trade shows and exhibitions, we have now decided to make the SERIES 100 Professional Workshop Kit available as the top flight framing kit, via the website.  It features three top quality framing tools that can take you from simply making a steady "side-income" from framing through to setting up in business as a framing gallery /  workshop.

The kit comprises:
Hansen 8000 series Maxi Chopper: this is a top professional, long lasting, safe machine for cutting frames and mouldings in all kinds of wood and most kinds of plastic. With the highest quality of knives made in the Hansen factory, the Hansen mitre machine makes a perfect, accurate cut, smooth and without chipping the frame. The Hansen is equipped with double springs for safety reasons, each fitted with bearings for long life. The machine is footoperated, so you do not need compressed air or electricity. The bonus is that you end up with a better working environment: no dust and no noise

Alpha 1/M Super Underpinner: This machine is quickly adjustable for different widths and heights of mouldings. The top pressure pad is L-shaped steel with a hard felt pad, held in place magnetically to allow you to adjust it to the ideal position relative to the moulding profile. It has a horizontal rebate clamp to pull the moulding firmly whilst it is being joined. It uses Alfagraf 'Power-Twist' wedges which draw the moulding together as they are inserted. The insertion hammer is solid steel and is guaranteed for two years. The 'Alpha 1/M Super' takes mouldings from 6mm to 80mm wide.

Logan Framers Edge 655: The heavy-duty construction, rich features, and an attractive look make the Framer's Edge Range the preferred system for framers and serious artists. It will manage high production mount cutting as well as smaller projects. The Logan Framers Edge 660 allows you to make cuts up to 122 cm (48") long. A non-stick coated cutting bar provides smooth cutting and needs no lubrication. The parallel mount guide slides smoothly in aluminum channels, enabling quick, accurate border measurements up to 13.33cm (5.25").  A fully scaled 68.58cm  (27") squaring arm holds mounts perfectly square. 

The discounted price for this whole package is just £2038.30 +vat and delivery. For further information about individual products, please look at the Professional Equipment section of the store. 

If you really know what you are after then this is the launchpad to framing success.

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Foam Core : Jack Of All Trades, Master of Many

Whilst not the most attractive substance in itself, Foam Core board is often what allows you to undertake the most imaginative projects.  This month we are running a small feature on the versatility of this product and have backed the article up by producing a suite of articles and "how to do it sheets" linked with its varied uses. 

We have described in a previous newsletter how to use foam core to create deep bevel mounts.  This uses a cut edge that is seen as part of the mount, which is why a decorative tape is required to provide an attractive face to the foam core. (Click here for more about decorative tapes).  Visit the Handy Hints section of our articles library for  more information. 

In a similar way, foam core can be used to create extra depth to accommodate deeper pieces of artwork (SINK MOUNT) or it can be used to make the mount "hover" above the back of the display, creating a shadow (SHADOW MOUNT).  For more ideas on how to undertake these projects, again link to our Handy Hints pages and find sheets on:

  • Making A Shadow Mount
  • Creating A Sink Mount

Another large area for its use is in needlecraft framing.  Many of the problems associated with framing fabric based art, is how to set the work in a sytem for framing.  Using foam core panels you can create a simple push through fit (Newberry fit) which holds lighter items in place.  In a similar way you can create a panel, across which work can be pinned and/ or laced.  In all cases it provides an attachment solution that is totally reversible and does not require use of tapes or adhesives. To find out more about how foam core is used in this way read the article:
Foam Core Panels - Preparing Fabric Based Art for Framing

Foam core is available as boards, 76.2 cm (20") x 50.8 cm (30"), in 5mm and 10 mm depths. In effect the board is a sandwich of foam between top and bottom layers of card - this is important to remember when cutting it. Always make an initial cut to break through the surface, card layer.  A second, firmer cut will see you through the foam (always ues a sharp blade).  Again, having a cutting mat or piece of spare mountboard under the line of the cut will ensure a clean break through the bottom layer of card. 

Foam board cutters are also available and are essential when cutting an angled face, but are equally useful for making clean, straight cuts. (Click here for more about foam board cutters).

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Full Size Mountboard

If you have ever been frustrated when the framing project you are planning takes the mount size beyond the board size usually available, you will often  do either of two things: a) give up or b) modify border widths etc.    However, you no longer need to hit that wall quite so soon.  We can now supply sheets of mountboard double the size you are used to 112cm (44") x 81.5cm (32") at £6.00 per sheet (inc vat).  Even better, we can supply them in the full range of white core boards and with similar discounts for 10 sheet orders single or mixed colours: £50.00 (inc vat).

Also available are large sheets of MDF backing board 122cm x 91.5 cm: 5 sheets for £24.00 (inc vat). 

So now you can be ready to hit the big time.  The last remaining piece of the supply jigsaw is to offer pack quantities of individual mouldings.  This facility is very close to being finally finalised using Arqadia mouldings: we hope to report on that within the next month.

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Artists & Illustrators Show Islington

We have kept an eye on the A&I website and have noticed that there has been no further information posted.  So, to whet your appetites further, we have decided to be ahead of the rest and publish the range of workshops and seminars that we will be running at the show.

The dates are 20th -23rd July 2006. Each day will start with either of the folowing two seminars. Each one lasts 1hr to 1.5hrs allowing for Q&A time.

Seminar 1 (20th & 22nd July): Develop Framing as a Source of Income
If you are thinking about framing your own artwork, why not earn some money at the same time?  This session leads you through the process of how to get started with framing from home, the tools to use and what needs to be in place ready for your first “Bespoke Framing” project.

Seminar 2 (21st & 23rd July): Framing With Distinction
Looking at how framing is an essential element in creating unique pieces of artwork for display and exhibition.  By giving careful consideration to colour palette, mount styles and moulding finishes, you can produce framing of exceptional quality.

During the rest of the time we will be running a series of 5 workshops.  Each lasts apprximately 1hr and can accommodate 10 students:

  • How to Create a Simple Hinge Mount System  A practical session where you will learn how to cut the sort of simple mount used in most framing projects.  This is then taken slightly further to create a method of attaching your artwork into the mount package, whilst, at the same time protecting and supporting it.
  • Making a Double Mount  Making a double mount is a fundamental decorative mount technique.  In this session, you will learn a cunning method for creating double mounts, where the two aperture edges always run parallel.  In addition we look at the different types of tapes used in mounting artwork, considering conservation qualities and what is best to use in specific projects.
  • Learning To Make Decorative Mounts
    In this workshop you will find out what other styles of mount can be cut simply by careful marking up and following a specific cutting plan.  You will actually make two mounts: one with “offset” corners; the second with angled corners.  There will also be a demonstration of freehand cutting and how to use a circle / oval cutter.
  • Creating Decorative Mounts With Deep Bevels  A very distinctive style of picture mount is where the bevels are 5mm deep, drawing the eye into the image itself.  These are created in this workshop by using foam core board with a taped, decorative edge.  Each person taking part will create their own mounted photograph to take away.
  • Using Joining Tools to Create a Frame  This session tackles the very heart of frame making by showing you how to join your cut lengths of moulding to form a frame.  Not only will participants complete a frame from pre-cut lengths, you will also see how to put the mount and backboard into the frame and (time permitting) have a chance to tie in hanging cord ready for display.

All seminars and courses must be booked through the organiser's office and details of costs and timetabling will follow on the Arists & Illustartors Mag website: www.aimag.co.uk

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Hobbycrafts: Glasgow SECC & Birmingham NEC

Hobbycrafts run the largest creative hobbies shows in the UK, with over 100 exhibitors taking part, creating an extravaganza of craft ideas, techniques and displays for the experienced and the beginner alike. All the latest creative craft products including stencils, decorative papers, card making ideas, scrapbooking techniques and supplies, stamps, punches and paper crafts and many more inspiring products, some of which will be new to the UK market will be on display.

Opening times: SECC Glasgow
Friday 27th October & Saturday 28th October 9.30 am – 5.30 pm:  Sunday 29th October 9.30 am -  5.00 pm
Just ahead of the Glasgow Exhibition we will be running two framing courses:
Tuesday 25th October - Basics of Framing
Wednesday 26th October - Mount Cutting & Decoration

Opening times: NEC Birmingham
Thursday 9th November - Saturday 11th November 9.30 am – 5.30 pm:  Sunday 12th November 9.30 am -  5.00 pm

The main reason for being there is, of courses, to give you the chance to see how our products and range of training can help to enhance your works of art. The DIY Framing stand will provide a one stop shop for all your framing needs.  We will have many items you can purchase to take away on the day, but you will also be able to order everything from our catalogue for earliest, home delivery.  There will be staff on our stand to demonstrate a full range of mount cutting and framing tools.  You will have a chance to try out equipment for yourselves and discuss best solution buys for your specific needs, with an expert from the company. 

We had a brilliant time at these events last year, meeting lots of people we had only spoken to on the phone.  In fact a couple of framing businesses were born at these shows: customers started by listening to the seminar we were running, followed it up with a workshop and, finally, a demonstration of the kit.  Next thing you know they were having business cards printed and reported an order book (9 months later) averaging 10 pieces per week!

As with all the shows we attend, there will be special offers, only available at our stand, which will save you pounds if you are about to buy new kit or upgrade current tools. We always love to see DIY Framers in the flesh (so to speak!).

Features at NEC, Birmingham:
Each day we will be leading a presentation in one of the main lecture theatres.  The seminar will be quite informal so all participants should feel able to raise specific queries and general enquiries about the framing process.  In order to ensure a seat, it may be necessary to check availability of spaces at the start of each day. Also, in an area attached to ourmain stand,  we will be running a series of workshops on a daily basis.  Each one will focus on one element of the framing process.  During the 45 minute sessions, you will be able to develop a particular skill, using the specialist tools of the trade.  There will be a limit of up to 10 people per session and a small fee will be charged to cover the costs of materials used.

Look out for details of this event in future News letters and News items

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Thank you for your continued support.

Until next time...


June 2006

With the summer weather upon us at long last, no doubt it has set your creative juices flowing.  You will be out and about with easel, paints, tripod and cameras capturing the very heart of the season.  It is also a good time to be thinking about what you could do with these new masterpieces.


The June edition of the newsletter is packed full of information about more training dates, launch of a top of the range Professional Workshop Kit (Series 100), things to do with foam core (especially useful for needlecrafters), exhibitions and more news about our Open Days.


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