Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tabernacle Frame

Blog reader Daroo asked about the frame in the previous post.

 Troy Stafford of Stafford Framemakers in Maine recently built new frames for both Dinosaur Parade and Dinosaur Boulevard for the upcoming Woodson Art Museum exhibition and for the big exhibition of fantasy art in Pennsylvania this spring.


We decided that since the painting evokes the spirit of Lawrence Alma Tadema, John Godward, and other Victorian painters who used these architectural frames (also called "aedicula" frames), it might be fitting to create a new one along those lines. (Above: "Antony and Cleopatra" by Tadema in a vintage frame.)

Troy has specialized in the forgotten art of building tabernacle frames, and has mastered techniques used by frame builders over a hundred years ago. He has built similar frames for actual Tademas, and he was willing to take on the challenge. Above: another Tadema in a Stafford frame.

I began by drawing up a sketch for the frame using the Roman Corinthian order as the basis of the design. The painting itself actually quotes Roman architecture in the buildings behind the dinosaurs. 

Troy ordered the pilaster capitals and the egg-and-dart moulding along the bottom from Decorator's Supply in Chicago. Founded in 1883, the company still has original moulds from the days of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. We were lucky to get workers at Decorator's Supply to cast the capitals for us because the company was working with a skeleton crew and was about to close up shop for the season. 


Troy then constructed the parts of the frame from basswood, poplar, and pine. It’s lock-mitered together with mortise and tenon. He formulated the gesso and red bole undercoat by hand from raw ingredients. He finished it in an oil-gilt 23.5 carat gold leaf.

The Dinosaur Boulevard frame was decorated using the pastiglia process, a bas relief process used in the Renaissance. The detail in the design is a three-toed dinosaur footprint. 
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The paintings--and frames--will be exhibited later this month at the Woodson Art Museum
Dinosaur Parade will also be at the Allentown Art Museum in Pennsylvania starting June 3, 2012.
Photos byArthur Evans of Williamstown, Massachusetts

17 comments:

Tom Hart said...

What incredible woodwork. Thanks for sharing much of Troy's process. Great kudos to him, and to you, for being willing to make the commitment, not to mention the investment.

Beck said...

Fabulous! I love it. Well done

Cat Boysen said...

They are so pretty!!!! I love, love, your frames!!!

etc, etc said...

Nice frame. Expensive too, given current gold prices.

The Decorator's Supply printed catalogue of period ornaments is fascinating browsing if one is interested in traditional ornamentation (as many great artists of the past seemed to be).

michelle said...

Gorgeous frames, amazing craftsmanship. I was a framer in the past and can only imagine the amount of work that went into those frames. Bravo!

Steve said...

Impressive frames, great backstory. Good to know of people like Troy keeping vanishing methods of work alive. In the top image, are you holding a reflective sheet to bounce light for the photo? Or is it something else?

James Gurney said...

Steve, yes, good eye. Arthur Evans shoots both artwork and people by using a bounced fill light and a single light source. He uses large corrugated plastic sheets covered with tinfoil and hinged to control the direction and amount of fill.

Thanks everyone for your kudos to Troy. I agree. I was blown away by his work. He does frames for people like Richard Schmid and Jeremy Lipking.

Tom Hart said...

James, do you know how and where Troy learned his craft?

Also, your design drawing for the frame is a work of art in itself.

Christian Supiot said...

I just realize, is that building in the corner inspired of ones from de spanish architect Gaudi?

James Gurney said...

Gaudi started his career in Pooktook, western Dinotopia.

Karin Corbin said...

The frames are a work of art in themselves.

I found a step by step article on making a tabernacle frame at the V&A museum.

http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/c/conservation-case-studies-crivelli-virgin-and-child/

Carol said...

Wonderful frames, he is the wizard of the frames and now your paintings are in a world of themselves.

Christian Supiot said...

I keep finding new details in the books before this long time. I love it. :)

My Pen Name said...

speaking of frames, when the new american wing reopens, "washington crossing the delware" will have a new frame that recreates the original
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/19/arts/design/19fram.html?pagewanted=all

Unknown said...

Really gorgeous frames, perfect for this work.

Andrew Wales said...

What amazing work. The perfect way to frame these paintings. The paintings are like looking into another world. These frame extend the fantasy out from the painting a bit further into our world, somehow.

M.A. Breza said...

Wonderful, wonderful work on the frames.