Timothy Holton was born and raised in Berkeley, California, where, in 1975, he began making frames at the highly regarded shop Storey Framing. His frame designs arise from a lifelong fascination with architecture, stimulated early on while living and traveling in Italy and Greece, and cultivated at home by ongoing awareness of the Bay Area’s great early twentieth century architects and designers (figures like Bernard Maybeck and Julia Morgan). At least as strong an influence were the vernacular brown shingle and Craftsman homes of Berkeley and rural Northern California — especially those of the tiny “summer town” of Inverness, in Marin County, where his family owns a 1909 bungalow. In more recent years he has studied the California Decorative Style work of turn-of-the-century San Franciscans Lucia Kleinhans Mathews and Arthur Mathews.
While Tim only feels truly at home in Berkeley and among the hills, mountains and shores of California, numerous stays in England have put him under the spell of the English Arts and Crafts Movement and the medieval roots of the Arts and Crafts spirit. He also credits two summers of his youth spent in Norway entranced by the landscape and ancient folk architecture of that country.
In 1988, after studying History at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and enduring a brief career in live theater, Tim turned his attention back to picture framing, undertaking to develop his skills in the joinery techniques and carving that distinguish his work. In the Spring of 1993 his furniture and mirrors were displayed at the Oakland Museum’s special gallery of contemporary artisans during the Museum’s exhibition “The Arts and Crafts Movement in California: Living the Good Life”. The warm response spurred him later that year to open Holton Furniture and Frame. (In 1999 the business name was changed to Holton Studio Frame-Makers to reflect the shop’s exclusive focus on picture and mirror frames.)
Tim still lives in Berkeley with his wife, Stephanie McCoy, a writer (her biography of California Arts & Crafts figure Lucia Kleinhans Mathews, Brilliance in the Shadows, was published by the Arts and Crafts Press). They have an adult daughter, Ella.
Published articles and a lecture by Timothy Holton
“The frame is the picture’s accompanist: it has to be self-effacing and subordinate to the picture, and yet positively enhance and contribute to its beauty. Accompaniment is an art in itself.”
— Timothy Holton
- A Frame-Maker’s Thoughts on Framing Paintings, an article for Realism Today, an online magazine, May 2020.
- The Joiner’s Tale: A Craftsman’s Window on John Ruskin and William Morris, a lecture by Tim Holton given at the symposium, “Helping in the Work of Creation: John Ruskin and William Morris Today,” held on May 31, 2013 at the Hillside Club in Berkeley, California.
- Real Wealth: The Value of Art and Craft in a Debased Economy (PDF), Arts and Crafts Homes and the Revival magazine, Winter 2009
- Hidden in Plain View: An Appreciation of the Oak Frame Tradition,
Style 1900 magazine, Winter 2008-09
- Digging Beyond Style: A Challenge for the Arts and Crafts Revival (PDF)
Arts and Crafts Homes and the Revival magazine, Spring 2006
- A Natural Finish, Picture Framing magazine, April 2008
- Close-framed Photographs, Picture Framing magazine, October 2007
- John Ruskin and the Hillside Club, The Companion, Newsletter of the Guild of St George, 2013. See page 38.
It would be a terrible oversight if I failed to acknowledge the vital role of my father, Richard Holton, in the creation and sustenance of Holton Studio Frame-Makers. Now that he’s not here to be embarrassed by public recognition, I’m free to give credit where credit’s due.
My father was truly a partner in establishing the studio and putting it on sound footing. Without his unwavering support, great wisdom in matters of business and entrepreneurship, and generous financial assistance in the shop’s early years, Holton Studio, as a small craft business without models in its industry, would never have had the time and resources necessary to find its way. His advice and backing gave me the freedom to make my passion for the art and craft of frame-making the foremost pursuit of the business. Providing gentle guidance and financial support with no strings attached, he simply believed in me, and for that I give eternal thanks.
My father, Richard Holton, died on October 24, 2005.
The picture below says it all.