Sally Dallas, CPF, Custom Picture Frame Designer
The care and feeding of a custom picture frame designer
Stage One: Introduction to Custom Picture Framing.
I have been custom framing since 1983. The first shop I worked in was Western Picture Frame, owned by the Luckey family. This shop had been in the same family and location on NW 1st in downtown Portland since before the 1890 flood. This was a cast iron front building similar to those at the right. They had a photo on the design table that picture the shop with a boat tied in front and a window sign "We deliver by boat". I was immersed in the history of framing, molding and techniques. On the third floor were moldings dating back up to a hundred years on a mezzanine around the main floor. I also saw and worked with the damage caused by early paper mats; burns, weakness in the paper of the art, and discoloration caused by the lignin and acids in paper mat (see conservation/preservation). I saw the damage done long before it became most framers and consumers started learning about conservation or preservation framing.
Stage 2: The DIY experience
Frame It Yourself in Ramsey, NJ. My cousin Paula recruited me to move to Ramsey NJ and run her Ramsey, NJ "Frame It Yourself" business. I worked as a manager and expanded the design and technique capabilities of the shop. I brought skills from my Western Picture Frame experience to the NJ shop. Framing techniques such as french lines, painted bevels, fabric mats, closed corner frames and a more sophisticated style than the previous manager. Paula and I had similar design aesthetics so it worked well. I enjoyed the time and the learning. In our shop customers had the option to save money by building the frame and fitting their project, The shop cut the mats, frame, did the mounts and other technical work. Many times a customer would do it themselves and then in the future opt to have us do the work. They understood and appreciated the value of the work we did after trying it themselves. We had a die-hard DIY following that came on Thursday nights to frame and chat.
I lived in Southern New York state (the town of Warwick) and got to experience true seasons, snow, rain, heat (humidity-ugh!) and the much slower spring of the east. I, of course, did Leaf Peak tours with various family members. After 5 years I decided to move back to Oregon.
Stage 3: Working in a variety of custom frame shops and gallery spaces.
Since moving back from the east coast I have managed to work in a large variety of retail framing establishments. Some were small and exclusive, others large national franchises and one somewhere in between (local custom frame designer that carried the major publishing lines).
I developed my
talents further at North Wind Designs (John's Landing) where I learned gallery design and layout, display and fine tuned my framing skills. I next managed the framing department for Obeidi-Sinclair's Frame Department in old town Portland. I developed my management and
diplomacy as I sometimes had to discuss, explain and help the owner (new to the business at that time) understand pricing and the bottom line. He was sometimes generous to a fault.
I next joined Deck the Walls, Clackamas Town Center. Here I learned to manage a mall store with huge volume while working closely with the owner. We then opened a store in the Valley River Mall in Eugene. Where I honed my window display skills and started a pattern of creating rooms, in a 3.5' deep window. It was challenging to create the illusion I wanted. After a couple of years we opened the Washington Square Mall location.
Stage 4: On my own
In 1996 got an opportunity to purchase a building in Newberg, Oregon and took the leap, not to just owning and operating my own gallery and frame shop, but to property ownership and management (I had a tenant building on the property that sold in 2014). Wow, what a learning curve. To quote my mom "You couldn't just get your toes wet, you had jump in up to your neck" Yup!
I spent the next couple of years developing the frame shop and gallery following. I started doing The Room about 3 years in an after that every quarter a different window theme went up. I became known for those window displays as well as a to framer. I entered competitions with fellow PPFA Chapter members, joined the (then Newberg Chamber) and served on their board for a term. I really appreciated find a place in such a great community. I had a client recommend me as expensive, but worth it. That is one of the best things I ever heard.
In 2009, I joined with five other downtown shops to start ARTwalk. Our goal was to promote the downtown and create awareness that we had a potential gold mine here. Ten years later and we are still going.
2010 - Changes are afoot.
In 2010, after a rough couple of years I made the major decision to lease out the main floor space and create My Personal Framer in the workshop space. Roger Hirsch, retired, helped me to carve out a space for the design and business side with the workshop on the other side of the wall. It has been interesting going from 1900 sq feet of showroom to 250. But it is what it is. I struggled emotionally for the first couple of years after moving on from my dream situation. Some folks wanted me to blame it on the 'Economy', but the reality is I wasn't able to adapt and change to work with the current economics.
It's been just over two years and many people know what I am about and where to find me. The change has been welcomed and generously received. If you know someone who needs framing please refer them to me. Thank you in advance for your support and kindness. My goal for 2013 is to increase awareness of who I am and what I do and increase my client outreach.
My Personal Framer
OK, so I closed Newberg Gallery, moved to the lower level of the building and remodeled part of my workshop into the framing studio (My Personal Framer), but I still wasn't satisfied and came up with version #3.
The new business model has short regular hours of 10--4 Tuesday-Thursday (lunch 1:30-2) and Friday 10-2
The rest of the time I am out working with my clients in their homes or offices. Contact me for an appointment to meet at the studio, your home, your office or a coffee shop. We will schedule a home or office visit and I will come with camera, tape measure, and notepad. We'll look at your art, and it's potential locations. I will photograph the pertinent walls, take measurements and discuss the look you want.
Once we have decided on the art and it's placement. I take the art and my notes to the studio and develop some design options. We will then set up a time for you to visit the studio to finalize the design. Once the decision is made I complete the framing, and can then deliver and hang it.
This new approach to custom framing design allows me to personalize the art and framing to best fit your home, office and your style. As we get to know each other better I can make recommendation that will help me to create the perfect fit for you.
If you think all framing shops are the same, I'd like to challenge your opinion.
At My Personal Framer I dare to be creative in every aspect of my business
My real claim to distinction is the thoroughly different approach to framing. Whether you bring us artwork or buy it here, I treat each project as an opportunity to create a special presentation. I carry hundreds (if not thousands) moldings, mats or liners to choose from right here in the store -- among the largest selections available -- and have access to thousands more through our state-of-the-art computer software. I won't rest until we've worked with you to find the perfect, harmonious blend of elements.
Most importantly, design and production work is performed by a certified, experienced framer (me) using the best mounting and framing equipment available. Along with framing original and Limited Edition artwork, I have experience framing old photos, keepsakes and hand-made items from the simple to the complex. Framing Mirrors is also one of my specialties.
In all cases, I am happy to provide free estimates.
My Personal Framer
I am so happy people are seeking out my hard to find location. I have so enjoyed helping people with their art and framing challenges and between us creating the perfect solution. I welcome new clients with their questions and concerns and do my best to answer honestly, good or bad, and explain the reasoning behind it. Please feel free to stop by.