Rome Wasn't Built In A Day, Neither Was This Photo Project

The Daily Dig

It is an interesting thing how you have things planned to go one way, and by no fault by your own…they go another way.

Published on: March 19, 2013

Ever since I was a kid, I remember having an interest in building things. Some ideas were worse than others, while some turned out to be right on the money. To this day, my sister will not hesitate to share the story of when we were kids and I had the grand idea to build a kite out of dad's old 2x4's.

So it just makes sense for me to do custom framing along with my photography. It comes naturally.

I would be lying if I said my latest adventure was a "weekend project." This is more of an "8-month-old project that should have been done in a weekend project."

I was at my local chiropractor and, knowing I did photography on the side, had an idea and asked about what agricultural or landscape photos I have for sale. He wanted to redecorate his walls and wanted to keep with local scenes and local artists.

After inking what I thought was a ready frame, I noticed glue spots coming through the corner seams. Having to sand down the entire frame, getting it ready to apply yet another first coat.
After inking what I thought was a ready frame, I noticed glue spots coming through the corner seams. Having to sand down the entire frame, getting it ready to apply yet another first coat.

We finalized on a photo and what wall he wanted it placed. Roughly 5 feet wide by 2 feet deep, not bad. This would be my biggest project I have taken on to date, and boy it is by far one of the most fun, entertaining and learning-experience ones.

I had in my mind, and from experience working with other clients, that this project would be done within two weeks, giving me ample time to work on everything. Then life happened. Work picked up, travel picked up, family picked up – and before I knew it, months had gone by.

The finished frame after sanding, inking and sealing. patiently waiting to be assembled.
The finished frame after sanding, inking and sealing. patiently waiting to be assembled.

It is an interesting thing how you have things planned to go one way, and by no fault by your own…they go another way. Thank goodness, they are just as busy as I am and are in no rush.

I thought hard as to what kind of frame I wanted to fit this photo – can I really call a 5 foot by 2 foot image a photo? When does a photo become a picture? Anyways, I was leaning toward purchasing a nice simple black metal frame. But every time I went to pull the trigger on it, something stopped me. This went on for a while. I learned a long time ago to trust my gut– it's usually right.

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So a few weeks back when I was headed to Omaha, I thought hey – let's see what my friend can do in his woodworking shop. I usually have him make me frames for other projects, so why not this one. Why I didn't think of this 8 months sooner would be beyond me.

So I made the call, and within a day I had a nice 5 foot by 2 foot solid raw Maple frame, 2.5 inches thick. This thing was beautiful. Unfortunately, I was going to ink the frame with Indian ink so the grain would not be easily viewable.

I laid out my work area – a little small and cramp for an apartment but doable. I made sure everything was sanded and ready to go. First coat of ink – done! To my horror, two of the corners had glue showing through the seams. Ugh. To the store I go. Lucky for me, my small sheet sander broke and it was time to get a new one. A new sander with 320 and 600 grit sand paper later, I made it home with enough energy to keep working on the project.

Not only did I sand off the first layer of ink, but also the 'invisible' glue that happened to be stuck in the corners. I cleaned up the frame, rolled up my sleeves and proceeded to ink the frame a second time. Being very careful to evenly coat and not leave any streaks, I had my second first-step done. Carefully inspecting all corners, angles, lines and sides, holy moly this thing is looking good!

By this time, it was darn near close to 1 p.m. I started my quest about 7:00 that morning, thinking I would have my whole day to work on things. More like my whole day to work on this ONE thing. I let the frame sit for a few more hours than needed, just so I wouldn't mess anything up.

While waiting for it to dry, I ran to the art store to get a piece of acrylic cut (no one local carries glass that big, who would have thought?) and to get my picture dry-mounted. Something I usually do myself, but working a piece this big I needed it done faster.

When running to the store for small items such as cutting acrylic and dry-mounting, I am usually in an out within minutes to hours. Not bad. So you can imagine my expression when I was told, "you can pick it up by April 3." I believe to best knowledge, my reaction was a loud, strong, solid, without-missing-a-beat, "Are you kidding me?" Such is my usual response to things unexpected. But having this project near completion, in my mind anyways, I would have to live with the two- and-a-half week turnaround instead of the two hour turnaround. So I gave my farewell and ventured on home to attack the frame again.

I rolled up my sleeves again, and this time applied a coat of polyurethane to seal the ink. Again, I meticulously applied an even coat, making sure there were no fingerprints or streaks. I checked my work, and when satisfied I walked away. For my work, although temporarily, is done.

I have to admit, when I went to look at the frame after drying, I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. I stood there and looked at that thing for what seemed like a long time. Now I am waiting to get my picture back from the art store so I can assemble all the pieces and see it hang on the wall for everyone to see. Stay tuned!