Galleries : Expert framer Kathy Morris
Imagine a traditional oil painting of a landscape of the East Chop light framed in green plastic. Never.
In choosing a frame for a work of art, finding a framer who knows just how to complement the beauty of a picture is of the utmost importance.
Kathy Morris at Martha's Vineyard Framing on County Road in West Tisbury, has been a framer since the early 1990s. Although her previous career path had her working with an orthopedic surgeon in San Francisco in the early 80s, framing ended up being the work she loves.
"I vacationed here for probably 10 years, to visit my sister, and I loved it," Ms. Morris says. "I was ready for a change and moved here in 1988. By chance I ended up framing and I love it. I am not artistic, but I like working with the artists and producing a product that the client likes."
Ms. Morris started Martha's Vineyard Framing, in 1994 with Carol Collins. "There would be no frame shop without her," says Ms. Morris.
On the Island, products for framing are hard to get. Most of M.V. Framing's materials come from Donmar Frame and Molding, because they are willing to deliver glass to the Island.
M.V. Framing is only one of several fine frame shops on the Island, and Ms. Morris says that the majority of Island framers support of each other, giving referrals when the opportunity arises.
For Ms. Morris, the relationships that she builds with her clients are very important. "This is a rewarding business," she says. "It is great to work on your own and to develop a relationship with clients, as you work with them a long time. We try to keep prices low and to meet deadlines. If we cannot meet a deadline, we let the client know we are going to be late with their work." In building these relationships over the years the shop has been through happy and sad times - births, deaths, weddings, for example.
The approach Ms. Morris takes is driven by a desire to provide good customer service. "If someone is unhappy with something, we encourage them to come back," she says. "We want them to be happy."
In dealing with the variety of clients on the Island, Ms. Morris and Ms. Collins have framed some odd things. The most unusual piece she ever worked with was a snake skin that she and Ms. Collins sewed onto a matte board before framing. In addition to all types of art, they have framed sports jerseys and basically anything that can be put under glass.
Trends in the framing industry do not really exist, Ms. Morris explains, although there are regional influences. When visiting Hawaii, for instance, she noticed that everything about the framing was different - it had a different look, while framing on the Vineyard tends to be more traditional. Galleries have their own looks and clients have their own tastes and styles and generally do not stray from the same look.
Framing does not really have rules. Basically framing is simply a matter of taste. "In the 16 years that Carol and I have been framing together, we have never once agreed on how to frame a piece exactly the same," Ms. Morris says.
Generally glass should not be put directly on artwork, nor should original artwork be dry-mounted. Mats should basically be used as often as possible, because keep the artwork away from the glass. Spacers can also be used to keep the frame and glass from touching the art. Spacers can be built up to any height to add depth to the frame's structure.
For oil paintings there are two types of frames; over frames and floaters. The over frame covers the edges and the floater allows the viewer to see the entire canvas and its edges. Floaters tend to be popular in the gallery world.
From a simple beginning, Kathy Morris has turned Martha's Vineyard Framing into a labor of love and a much needed service for local artists, art collectors, and people of all sorts who want to preserve important moments in their lives.
Martha's Vineyard Framing, 127 Old County Road, West Tisbury. 508-693-2022.
Tamar Russell is a freelance graphic designer/artist who now lives in New York after working in the production department of The Times for several years.