Are You Sitting on an Heirloom?

Colorful bouquet of embroidered flowers, matted and framed.

Embroidered chair covers made by Grandma get a new life at Village Frame & Gallery

Colorful bouquet of embroidered flowers, matted and framed.A few months ago, a customer brought us six lovely hand-embroidered chair covers. Could we preserve them? She wanted to present them as gifts to her grandchildren. What a great idea!

Of Grandmas and Embroidered Chair Covers: A Brief History

During the 16th century, embroidery became an essential skill for young ladies. Before marriage, girls embroidered samplers, which taught them letters, numbers, and stitches—all things a young lady needed to know when she married and became responsible for creating and maintaining clothing and linens for her household.

For some women during those centuries, embroidery became a way of expressing themselves artistically while fulfilling their duties as a homemaker. Although every wife had a great deal of day-to-day sewing, some took time to incorporate decorative designs on clothes and household articles. By the 18th century, a talented embroiderer could get work sewing for her neighbors in exchange for money or goods. If you think of it, this “women’s work” is rather inspiring. As they did in quilting, knitting, and other practical arts, through embroidery, women made the functional beautiful.

Well into the middle of the last century, embroidery was a way for women earn a bit of income or stitch art into everyday life. You may have cushions, upholstery, or linens created by your grandmother or great-grandmother, that have borne witness to your family history for generations. Imagine how many times her needle passed in and out of that cloth … Can you picture her choosing a design? Deciding on colors? The many hours it took to complete each piece?

Is It Time to Give Grandma’s Work a Place of Honor in Your Home?

With proper preservation, chair covers can survive for generations. Long after the useful life of the chair is over, your family will be able to enjoy Grandma’s needlework—as art!

Feeling inspired? Bring your heirloom chair covers to Village Frame & Gallery for needlework conservation treatment and framing. We’re open Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am – 6 pm, at 7808 SW Capitol Hwy, Portland, OR 97219.

Colorful red and blue bouquet embroidered on a chair cover

Colorful bouquet of red and blue flowers embroidered onto a chair cover, matted and framed

Colorful bouquet of embroidered flowers

Colorful bouquet of embroidered flowers, matted and framed.

Embroidered bouquet of blue flowers

Chair cover embroidered with bouquet of blue flowers, matted and framed


Various shops turn needlepoint into pillows; very few offer to frame them. Only one shop, in my opinion, does the latter as it should be done: Village Frame and Gallery. Their artful framing greatly enhances my work, through their time consuming, labor intensive blocking, their wide selection of exquisite frames and mats, plus the highest quality preservation glass. Their work is unequaled this side of a major museum.

–Arthur Henry

4 Ideas for Decorating with Postcards

Five framed postcards lined up on framer's counter.

Wouldn’t it be great if we all had an unlimited art budget? My house doesn’t have enough room for all the gorgeous originals I’d buy. Oh, and then there’s the opinion of my bank account. I guess a girl can dream, but then she’d better get creative. Which is exactly what one of our clients did last month …

Framed Art Postcards

Five framed postcards lined up on framer's counter.
Kind of get your creative decorating juices flowing, don’t they?

She’d been to the museum and picked up postcards of some of her favorite pieces. Not content to just let them languish in a box or scrapbook, she brought them to the Gallery to be framed.

To keep viewers focused on the bold colors in these modern abstracts, we chose heavy 8-ply bright white mats and moulding in one of the main colors of the artwork. Since we used identical moulding, except for color, the finished pieces will look great hanging together as a group. Or, they can be split up and stand alone.

More Ideas for Decorating with Postcards

This got me thinking about postcards as inexpensive artwork. Turns out, I’m not the only one. A friend told me she framed a large set of travel postcards to create a dramatic display in her bathroom. Then I starting finding ideas for decorating with postcards all over the place. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Blow up postcards and have them framed. Now that we have digital printing technology, the sky’s the limit–within the bounds of copyright. Have some vintage postcards you love? Take them to your local print shop and have large prints made. Then bring them to the Gallery for framing.
  • Assemble groups of postcards based on a theme. Pull together postcards from trips you’ve taken or collections based around a special interest, such as botanical prints, architecture, or comics. Have them mounted in matching frames to increase visual consistency and hang in a formal grid shape or more casual free form arrangement.
  • Got Photoshop skills? Go wild. Scan postcards you love and overlay the graphic image with text: perhaps a favorite quote or the note from the back of the postcard. Then have your new creation printed and framed.

Great Spaces for Postcard Decor

Postcards are inexpensive enough to use anywhere, which make them a popular choice for kitchens and bathrooms. If the humidity gets to them, it’s not a big deal. But, don’t stop there. Anywhere you want art but don’t want to risk losing an original, such as an office or vacation home, is another excellent spot for framed postcards.

Wall art doesn’t have to be expensive. With creativity–and the help of a great frame shop–you can enjoy your favorite masterpieces or make a personalized statement in your home or office. For help, bring your postcards to Village Frame & Gallery. We’re open Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am – 6 pm, at 7808 SW Capitol Hwy, Portland, OR 97219.

While you’re thinking about your postcard project, here are some close-ups of the project we just framed:







The Art and Soul of Pet Memorials

Drawing of yellow Labrador
Photo of Labrador sitting in the trunk of a car.
Sure this looks like a dog sitting next to a box of junk, but it’s really a picture of a Labrador in love.

This is Jeze. She was the best buddy of a friend of ours, Tim. In this picture, Jeze has found the trunk of Tim’s car open, so she is “hiding” inside on the off chance he goes somewhere. That hang-dog look is because she knows she has been spotted and is concerned she will have to get out. She used to sit in Tim’s trunk all day if the door was open, even though Tim was nowhere near his vehicle. Jeze felt it was better to sit there than risk missing out on a trip with Tim. She did this whenever she found Tim’s trunk open. In the evening, Tim would have to make her get out and come eat her supper.

Picture of Labrador waiting next to a truck and a boat.
“What? You always said you wanted a blonde who loves to fish!”

It was even worse when Jeze saw Tim pack to go hunting or fishing. This is Jeze in her “nagging” position. “Can we go yet? Can we, can we, can we, can we?”

That’s how it was for eight years with those two. Where one was, the furry one followed. Tim was Jeze’s whole world and Jeze was Tim’s favorite dog, which is saying something because Tim has had dogs, literally, all his life.

Sadly, Jeze was injured and died unexpectedly last summer. Needless to say, she left a big empty space in Tim’s life. For the first time since he was a toddler, he didn’t have a dog and he wasn’t sure a new puppy would fix the loss.

What can we do when we lose a beloved pet?

The death of a furry friend can be intensely painful. When the relationship has been extremely close, it can be as hard as losing a person. But, when a human being dies, there are funerals and memorials to help us express our grief. We don’t always have those same options when a cherished animal dies. Or, we may need more than a simple backyard burial to work through our feelings.

One thing mental health and grief professionals recommend is memorializing your pet. Assembling a memorial display in honor of a dear furry friend validates your feelings of grief and can be very healing.

Here are 3 Ways to Memorialize Your Favorite Pet

Have a pet portrait made.

Drawing of yellow Labrador
Jeze by Eric Jensen

A couple of months ago we framed this portrait of Jeze, drawn by local artist Eric Jensen. It hangs in Tim’s dining room now, not far from where he used to get his pre-dinner cuddles from Jeze.

If you love great art anyway, or simply miss looking into your pet’s eyes, this is an elegant option. Gather several clear photos of your pet and sit down with an artist who is skilled at drawing or painting animals. It is helpful if you can find pictures that show your pet from different angles and in different positions.

When the artist is finished working his or her magic, bring the finished project in and we will frame it using materials that complement the artwork.

Make a cast of your dog’s paw print.

Plaster of paris cast of dog's paw print in gold frame.Paw prints or nose prints can be made easily at home out of plaster of paris or terra cotta clay. There are instructions on the web or you can get kits at art stores with everything you need.

Paw or nose print crafts can be excellent projects for families who have children, especially in the days when death is near but the pet can still stand. Creating the memorial together can be both a teaching and a healing moment and will reaffirm the importance of your pet’s loss to the family as a whole.

Proper framing will help protect your cast from the elements and create a long-lasting display. If you want to be able to touch the paw print, consider having the cast bronzed and we will set it in a recessed frame without glass.

Take a paw print.

ink-paw-printInk paw prints are another option. Be sure to use art-grade ink and acid-free paper. Roll the ink on your pets paw and press it down on the paper. You may have to do a few impressions to get a clear print. After the ink is thoroughly dried, bring it in to the shop and we will frame it to create an one of a kind memorial.

If you are creating a paw cast or ink print, a nice option is to have us frame it side-by-side with your favorite photo of your pet.

Tell Us About Your Favorite Pet

Has your heart been stolen by a furry buddy? Please share your pictures and stories in the comments. If your pet has passed on, tell us how you memorialized your dear friend and include a photo if you can. How did creating a memorial help you deal with the loss?

Last Minute Holiday Gift Ideas

Hand carved wooden pens and letter opener by Randy Bonella

Still working on your shopping list? Stop by Village Frame & Gallery.

Hand carved wooden pens and letter opener by Randy Bonella
Desk set by Portland artist Randy Bonella

We have gift ideas for art lovers, artists, and anyone who appreciates fine craftsmanship and unique artisan goods. Time is running out, so pop by the Gallery for:

Handmade Pens, Ornaments, and Tools

Shopping for someone who appreciates the finer things in life? Artisan made implements are the ultimate in luxury. We have pens, letter openers, ornaments, scoops, and seam rippers–all hand carved. Practical, yes, common, not at all.

Ready Made Photo Frames

Turn a favorite photo into a personalized gift. It’s a snap with quality ready-made frames. We have frames in a range of the most popular photo sizes and mattes for smaller snapshots. Bring your photograph with you and we’ll help you pick the right frame from our inventory.

Art Prints

Color poster of arab man serving steaming cup of choclate
Print on Canvas: Cafes Chocolats by L. Voisin

If you want to please an art lover, there’s no better gift than art. We have a large selection of affordable prints–many from local artists–plus prints on canvas. And let’s be honest, shopping for an art print is enjoyable; you get to take a break from the bustle of the season, browse some art, and still cross something off your to-do list.

Handcrafted Jewelry

Adorn a lady you love with wearable art. We have necklaces, bracelets, and earrings made by local artists, in stock, and ready to be wrapped. We only carry high-quality lines made by skilled, local jewelry artists, so you can be sure your purchase will be made to last–delighting her year after year.

We’re Here to Help

Bring your list to the Gallery. We’re here to inspire you Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am – 6 pm.


3 Unique Holiday Gift Ideas

Shadow box with two antique photos of a woman and a pocket watch

Know what you’re getting everyone for the holidays? No? Here are a few ideas your loved ones won’t have seen at every store in the mall:

A Piece of History Preserved

Shadow box with two antique photos of a woman and a pocket watch

Rescue beloved keepsakes from their dusty boxes and turn them into a artful display that will be cherished by your loved one and eventually handed down to children and grandchildren. Conservation framing ensures heirloom pieces will last for generations.

Art from Their Wish List

Mixed media image of nude woman kneeling and leaning forward, a cloth covers her entire head.
Searching in the Dark by Farooq Hassan

We all love someone who rarely spends money on themselves. Usually, these are the people who are most generous with others. This year, treat the giver in your life to a piece of art he or she has been wanting, but has put off purchasing.

Framed Photo Stories

Shadow box filled with college memorabilia and photos
University Days

Commemorate a season in your loved one’s life with a framed collage of memorabilia that tells a story. A little slice of  “This is Your Life,” this gift is an excellent way to express how important someone is to you.

For expert help with these gift ideas, visit Village Frame & Gallery right away–like us, the holidays are right around the corner!

Is Custom Art Framing Worth the Money?

Professionally framed antique photos of man and woman

Honestly, that depends.

You don’t need custom framing for every piece of artwork. Your kindergartner’s finger paintings do very well with nothing more than a simple refrigerator magnet. Easily replaceable digital snapshots need a sturdy, functional frame and no more. But, there are times when you should hire a professional framer. Fine art and priceless keepsakes, for instance, require specific safeguards if you want them to last.

The Smart Money is on Reframing the Whole Question

Professionally framed antique photos of man and woman
How much do you value the art or image?

Sometimes, opting for the smallest initial cost is the most expensive mistake you can make long-term. Certainly that is true when you are trying to preserve the fragile medium used to create art. Paint and fabric deteriorate fairly quickly when exposed to the elements. You probably know that because you have to repaint your house every few years and replace clothing regularly. You likely have boxes of photographs from your childhood that are faded and curling by now. Conservation framing is the means by which you prevent your precious art and images from the same fate.

Think of framing like packing a suitcase for a very long journey. You can throw your expensive wool suit or delicate hand-stitched kimono into a chintzy plastic suitcase and hope it arrives undamaged. Or, you can pack the items you cherish into high-quality, protective, durable materials that allow them to survive the journey. What you are paying for, when you buy the good suitcase, is preservation. It’s the same with custom framing.

So, the smarter questions are …

When I Hire a Professional Framer, What is My Return on Investment?

Answering that question requires basic knowledge of what goes into building a proper frame for valuables. In an extremely small nutshell, the amount you pay for professional framing buys:

  • Close of of framed painting
    Design, materials, and craftsmanship all factor into the price of the finished project.

    Design: Your matte and frame should enhance, rather than detract from, the art. This is when working with a framer who understands art theory makes all the difference. There are seven elements of art: line, shape, form, space, texture, value, and color. Artists use these elements, along with design principles, to compose the finished piece. Custom framers examine those elements and principles to choose framing that appears integrated with the artwork and continues the artist’s message, but does not compete with the art. Framing design can literally make or break the visual appearance of art, affecting your enjoyment of works you are keeping and the price of pieces you are selling.

  • Materials: Archival materials are crucial for defending artwork from environmental damage. Craft store framing is relatively inexpensive because it is made cheaply with inferior materials: matte and backing may be labeled “acid-free,” but usually contain wood-based paper that breaks down over time to produce acid; the glass does not provide sufficient UV filtering; moulding is poorly constructed. Professional-grade framing is in an entirely different class. It is more expensive, but pays for itself by protecting your art long enough to allow it to increase in value.
  • Craftsmanship: How a piece is mounted and enclosed within the frame, and how the frame itself is constructed, are just as important as the materials used. Art must be mounted properly, based on its media, and not touch the glazing or moulding. The corners of the frame and backing should be secure to keep out airborne contaminants and insects. Amateur mistakes during this stage of framing can completely negate the work put into design and the money spent on conservation materials.

How Can You Get the Most for Your Framing Dollar?

One of the best ways to save on custom framing is to avoid costly mistakes by working with an experienced professional.

Interior of Village Frame & Gallery showroom
Come see us in our newly remodeled space today!

At Village Frame & Gallery, every project starts with a collaborative design consultation to:

  • Choose the best style and color of matte and framing so your finished piece will look fantastic on your wall
  • Evaluate your artwork and advise you of the materials required to protect it
  • Asses the value of your art over time to determine how much you should invest in framing
  • Help you make your final decisions knowledgably

After the consultation, we continue to deliver the most for your money through the use of professional-grade materials and fastidious craftsmanship.

Ready to invest in your artwork? Bring it to Village Frame & Gallery today to learn why our clients keep coming back year after year.

How to Refresh Worn and Outdated Artwork

Reframing is often wise, both for gaining new perspective on life issues, and for artwork that could use a pick-me-up.

Improper framing can lead to irreversible damage. If you are concerned about the integrity of your frames, bring your art to the Gallery for an inspection.

If you have frames that are looking tatty or you no longer enjoy the overall look of a piece of artwork, don’t dump it, reframe it. An updated frame will revive your art and make it feel new again. Most importantly, you can upgrade framing materials to protect your art better.

Reframe pictures when:

  • Corners are pulling apart. You can only tap in those loose nails so many times. If your frame has started falling apart, replace it.
  • The finish is worn. When wood is crazed, warped, or scratched, or if the finish has become dull or faded, it’s better to start fresh. It’s difficult to keep touching up blemishes and scratches on wood. Over time the finish becomes mottled, with shiny or dull spots.
  • You have a piece that was poorly framed. Maybe you purchased original artwork in a cheap exhibition frame or inherited a piece that was framed by an amateur. Replacing substandard framing with conservation materials is critical to the longevity of the art.
  • New environment. If you are moving your museum quality print from a dry, sunny living room and putting it in or near a bathroom, for example, consider replacing the glass or matboard to assure better protection from moisture and air.
  • Your tastes have changed. If you are redecorating, old frames may not fit your new look. Maybe you’d like to go shabby chic, with the look of old window frames around your art, or exchange simple acrylic frames for a more elegant oak fleur-de-lys.

If You’re Ready for a New Perspective on Your Artwork, Come See Us

Village Frame & Gallery has the expertise to assess whether your frame can be skillfully repaired or if it’s time for a replacement. Bring your artwork to the Gallery for a free consultation during regular business hours or call to schedule a consultation at your site. Whether you want a new color, different textured matboard, heavier picture wire, or even a different sized frame, we can advise you every step of the way on your reframing project.


How to Care for Framed Art

There’s more to caring for your artwork than picking the perfect frame. From limited edition prints to original paintings, framed art needs special care and professional quality materials.

framed-art-2Properly caring for your framed art helps maintain its value and original vibrancy for future generations.  Before, during, and after framing, we recommend the following guidelines when caring for your artwork:

Cleaning Your Framed Art

To clean your framed print, remove it from the wall and place it flat on a table or other stable surface.

Use a soft, lint-free cloth or a soft brush to clean your frame. Harsh chemicals like ammonia, alcohol and other types of cleaners can damage fine finished gold-leaf, acid wash, lacquer and other frame finishes.

Clean glass by spraying cleaner onto a soft cloth and then wiping the glass. This helps prevent liquids from seeping into the frame and making colors bleed or paper buckle.

Clean Plexiglas or other acrylic-type glazing with special Plexiglas cleaner, or with a mild detergent solution, and very soft cotton cloth. Glass cleaners that contain ammonia will cause acrylic glazing to turn yellow and improper wiping will scratch most acrylic coverings.

For your convenience, we recommend and sell Ultra Lite glass and plastic cleaner.

Bring Your Artwork to the Gallery for a Checkup

Framed art should be inspected for wear and damage every few years. Over time, your frame may have scratches that need a touch up, new dust covers, adjustments to the picture wire, or similar simple repairs.

When you bring your framed art into the Gallery, we will inspect for hidden damage and clean it. That’s one “window” you don’t have to wash yourself.

Here’s what we’ll look for when you bring it to us:

  • framed-art-1CRIMPING: Prints are most vulnerable to damage in the unframed stage. Removing it from its storage tube or rough handling when trying to uncurl the print can cause dents and creases. Grasping the print too hard can also cause crimps or dents. It is best to minimize handling your art prints. When you must handle it, wear gloves.
  • TEARS: Rips or tears in the print, no matter how small should be handled with care, even in border areas that would be covered by the frame. Insignificant tears can turn into gaping holes over time.
  • ACID BURNS: Acid burn is caused by wood pulp contained in commonly used matboard. Wood pulp contains acids that cause the matboard to turn brown, become brittle and even disintegrate when removed from the frame. We can quickly evaluate the type of matboard your artwork is framed with and discuss the impact it will have on the artwork over time.
  • DRY MOUNTING: Prints need to be properly adhered to a backing board. Adhesive residue from improperly mounted prints can cause permanent damage. In most designs, secure mounting of the artwork can be accomplished on acid-free materials with non-toxic, reversible adhesive. However, many art mediums and papers are too fragile and must be hinged using the appropriate techniques, pastes, and papers.
  • MILDEW: Mildew or moisture damage occurs when a print is not kept in a climate controlled area or is exposed to areas with excessive amounts of heat. However, minor condensation can form on glass simply by moving a piece of framed art from air-conditioned coolness to a hot car or display window, for example. This will usually dissipate without damage to the artwork, if the proper spacing between the glass and artwork has been provided by your framer. Otherwise, the print will likely attach to the glass.

The negative impacts on treasured artwork that has been improperly framed, cleaned, stored, or moved are usually permanent and irreversible. That’s why we are so committed to following the highest quality preservation practices and teaching you how to avoid these types of deterioration and damage.

Transporting Artwork

When transporting your art, make sure it is protected from the elements and from damage.

Wrap your art in plastic to prevent water damage and use towels or blankets to cushion it. Using protective frame corners or wrapping the art completely inside cardboard and taping it closed will assure safe transport.

Unwrap your art pieces as soon as possible. If leaning against a wall or storage space, make sure they are upright and face to face if there is more than one so the hanging hardware does damage the front of the other frame.

Remember: The safest place for your framed artwork is on the wall.

Whether you have an original painting, fine art print or treasured keepsake, if it needs to be framed, we will design a beautiful display tailored to the piece and your décor to protect and enhance the work for years to come.  Stop by the gallery with your artwork and questions. We will be happy to evaluate your artwork and recommend the best framing options and solutions for you.  The staff of Village Frame and Gallery has over 28 years combined experience framing, preserving and protecting artwork for display in your home or business.