Framing Thomas Stream

This is a contemporary print titled “Puppy Gray” by Aleutian artist Thomas Stream. The large subject and strong contrasting colors and bold, graphic design on white paper made a white mat the best choice. The fun part was giving it a suitably bold, graphic frame—a flat 1″ profile, decorative corners flaring out in a pattern repeating the wolf pup’s fur. Walnut was a natural choice, matching the brown in the print. The print is about 16″ x 12″, the outside dimensions of the 1″ profile frame are 23″ x 17″.Thos. Stream print


Thomas Stream’s work is an example of the sort of graphic approach so many pictures take, accepting and embracing the flat plane of the paper or canvas. A flat frame profile honors and sustains this treatment, and can simply be shaped at the edges—especially at the all-important corners—to harmonize with it. A picture frame at its most elemental, is simply a strong emphatic line signaling significance for the picture. Therefore, on pictures using flat, strong, emphatic graphic lines and forms, the frame naturally lends itself to simply repeating and amplifying those elements. By doing so, it provides the picture with a unique immediate setting that’s alive and responsive to the picture.

framed Kunisada printAnother good example of this is the frame we made last year for the Kunisada print at right. (More on this frame here.) In the late nineteenth century, when European painters were first introduced to Japanese prints, they especially admired the flat compositional treatment of the prints. It may be surprising, then, how little this kind of frame design, which seems so obvious and natural, has been employed—then or now. But the explanation is in the nature of industrial frame production and modern commercial conditions, in which such design is impractical. In comparison, the older, more personal model of the frame-making studio allows the framer to work directly for the artist or owner of the picture, and to make frames from scratch. This kind of frame design remains a fertile area for a revived art of frame-making.

More on Thomas Stream…

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