Custom Miniature Modern Artwork Framing Project

Custom Miniature Artwork Framing

I get good amount of inquiries for custom miniature frames and framing projects from Etsy through the made-to-order miniature frames I listed. Then in early January, I got a huge custom order and I thought I hit the mother load!

As usual. I was wrong. 🙁

A general mini-framing job can be done quick and easy, but the sheer number of pieces that were to be framed required a great deal of organization, planning, and image editing. The images were printed (300 DPI) on archival paper with archival ink. Extra supplies for the frames had to be ordered which added to the wait time. And the special requests for the frames made it more difficult than anticipated.

The big doozey are the frames for the Yaacov Agam pieces mimicking the frames seen in real life. I thought “no problem!” since its essentially cutting angled miters like you would for crown moulding. But it wasn’t until I sat down to work on them did I realize how difficult it was. Also considering the fact that I do not have any miniature power tools to make angled miters, it required lots of trial and error and wasted material doing it by hand.

Even so, the end result is some pretty good looking mini iconic framed artwork:

Overall, they pass the “macro test,” namely, taking macro pictures to check for close up defects. The goal really is to make the quality indistinguishable from a 1:1 scale piece when taken in macro photography. I am mostly pleased with how they turned out, though I do wish some parts to be cleaner cut and better fitted.

Right now, I am just so happy this project is finally done and over with. Its been going on for over a month now and it just need to be finished!

Bye Bye Custom Orders

This is likely my last custom order for a long while. Custom orders usually take a lot of time and I almost always underprice myself on them. After doing the math, it works out to me working below minimum wage on most of the custom projects. I am at the point where I am starting to resent them and I’d rather not feel that way.

If miniatures were only a hobby for me, I’d have no problem with pricing (as long as it covered material costs), but I am trying to make a living from miniatures and the math isn’t working out for the custom orders. On the upside, having no custom orders to worry about will finally allow me the time to finish up some on some goodies that have been in the works and to start building up my mini business!

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14 Responses to Custom Miniature Artwork Framing

  1. Lyssa February 17, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    Even though they are a lot of work, they do look really great. I love every shot your provided up there.

    I need to work on making frames for the paintings that I do. I think they would sell better if they looked more polished, but even the tiny brush strokes are hard to do!!! I’m worn out at the end of a painting!!!

    • Ann February 17, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

      Thanks dear. And I agree, I find that fully framed images do sell better and even more so when you allow options to leave it unfinished or finish it to their preference… but then again, you have to take into account the time to finish it and possibly charge more. And I feel ya on painting minis.. very technical and tedious for the tiny brush strokes. I always get eye strain!

  2. Margaret February 17, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    What an interesting commission to undertake. And how lucky for us to get to see it in progress here. The Yaacov Agam frames are really neat but I feel your pain (they’re angled in two directions, right?).
    I have all but eliminated commissions too.
    I enjoyed delivering people what they wanted and hearing their suggestions but, like you, I began to resent the commissions for the time and resources required. It is nice not having to worry about deadlines anymore.

    • Ann February 17, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

      Thanks for your comment Margaret! And yes, these are angled in two directions which made it a pain in the bum! And yes I agree.. it’s like 100 lbs lifted off m shoulders after finishing up all the custom stuff. The deadlines and stress was what caused the most anxiety for me.

  3. Call of the Small February 17, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    Ann, you do lovely work, and this is but one example of your talent. Bravo! They all look amazingly great, and you should feel very proud. Sorry to hear your aversion to future custom work, but I totally understand your view and honest take on the experience. I am sure the experience will help you grow as an artist.

    • Ann February 17, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

      Thanks for the kind words Calls!

  4. karin February 17, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    The picture framing would go much easier with a few changes in your methods.

    You need fast and you need accurate and that is achieved with simple jigs that position the parts instead of relying on your hand coordination and eyeball judgment.

    • Ann February 17, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

      That was part of the time waste. Jigging for a single miter was easy enough and very helpful, but the angled miter was the problem. It was too cold (and a bit dangerous) to use the first jig with the drill press. And then the jig with my mini saw had problems because the saw needed constant re-calibration. Besides, it does not allow for blade tilting which made it more difficult. Other than that, I simply do not have access to any other tools that I can easily set up a crown molding type jig, so the next best thing was to do it by hand… though in retrospect, I could have probably created a hand jig of some sort. I guess thats something to do for next time, whenever that will be!

  5. Penni February 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    They look amazing, you can see the time and effort put into these frames.

    • Ann February 17, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

      Thanks Penni!

  6. Megan February 20, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

    Just amazing work! Good for you, you can really lose money on custom orders, and simply not doing them will allow you the creativity to come up with what you want. And since what you want is so good, everyone will be happy buying that.
    Hats off!

    • Ann February 20, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

      Thanks a bunch for the kind words and encouragement, Megan. Thats one of the reasons why I was starting to get annoyed with the custom orders, most of them were not modern at all!

  7. Pepper April 19, 2011 at 6:48 am #

    The frames are outstanding! =0O

    I totally get and agree with what you say about custom items. It’s not just making the finished item but working out how to get there, making specific tools for the job…usually the time spent on it far outweighs the price you can reasonably charge.

    Great work though

    • Ann April 19, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

      Thanks for the compliment Pepper!

      I’m slowly getting back into custom orders, but only the super small ones. I don’t want another burn out episode 😉

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