The Old Connection: A Carved Frame for Carved Marblehead Tiles

This is a set of carved matte green triptych tiles made around 1908 by Arthur Baggs (1886-1947) a few years after he founded the Marblehead Pottery. Each tile is 6-1/4″ square. We made the frame in quartersawn white oak (a natural choice for this image of oak trees) with Saturated Medieval Oak stain. Outside dimensions are about 8″ x 26″. Trevor and I collaborated on the setting for Mr. Baggs’s work. Trevor built the mortise and tenon frame, I carved the two dividers to connect and harmonize with the carved tiles.

Framed Marblehead-AE Biggs tile set

When we frame pictures, we’re giving them architectural place. Although paintings were originally part of architecture—the first paintings were murals and frescoes—we tend to forget that old connection. Tiles, however, we continue to recognize as part of architecture, and a tile maker like Arthur Baggs as a member of one of the many trades taking part in building. So whenever I frame tiles I’m very conscious of that old collaborative understanding of architecture: the work of diverse trades, each one distinct but alive to and with regard for the others, all joined in the larger work of art that is a building.

This is that idea in microcosm.

Set of framed Marblehead (Arthur Baggs) tiles


Framing Tia Kratter for “California Wildflowers”

It’s always lovely to watch a show come together. But this one we’re enjoying seeing bloom before our eyes. “California Wildflowers” opens June 29, and its wonderful. My daughter Ella gets credit for the idea. (Good call, Ella.) The group show includes eighteen painters.

Here’s the Tia Kratter still life watercolor painting we’re using for the publicity, including the postcard. (If you’re on our mailing list, you should get the card next week. If you want to be on our list, shoot us an email.) “Vic’s Picks” is 10″ x 12″ (13-1/2″ x 15-1/2″ outside frame dimensions). We set it in a 2″ walnut cove profile with a gilt cove sight edge—the gold is 18 kt pale—and cushion back edge with a simple carved accent near the corners.

Framed Tia Kratter watercolorFlowers are always fun to frame because of the opportunity for harmony found in the similarity of form between the frame and a flower—how a frame radiates out from the picture like the petals of a flower.

Framed Tia Kratter watercolorWith all the rain we had last winter,  this spring brought a riot of life and color. Our painters have reveled in it all, and responded with a great variety of joyful still lifes and landscapes.

Please come join us for the opening reception, Saturday, June 29 from 2 to 4. The show runs through August 3.

The show will also be online here.

Highlighting Terry Miura

To celebrate 15 years of showing Terry Miura, the Gallery is currently featuring the artist’s paintings. A popular teacher and greatly admired by the region’s landscape painters, Terry’s earned the lofty status of an artist’s artist. He’s always been a big fan our frames and supporter of our work—and we appreciate it!

Come enjoy the exhibit, showing through June 8. View Terry’s work on his page…

Hanging with Karima Cammell at Brea Gallery

Our friend Karima Cammell, whose show “High Water” we hosted here in 2021, was chosen from thousands of entrants for a solo show at Brea Gallery in Brea (Orange County), California. We had the great honor of framing most of Karima’s work for for the exhibit. Titled, “The Light Gets In,” the show runs through June 23.

Karima Cammell display at Brea Gallery

Among the works we framed is “DCM Triptych,” below. We set Karima’s painted and gilded panels in walnut mortise and tenon frames hinged together. The frames were carved, stippled, and gilded to extend the artist’s design. View all the other works in the show on Brea Gallery’s webpage, here.Karima Cammell, "DCM Triptych"

Karima Cammell

“A(r)mour,” self-portrait by Karima Cammell

The blurb for the show explains that

In her artistic practice, Karima employs traditional media such as egg tempera, oil paint, gilding, and glass, viewing herself as much as a creator of objects as an image maker. Her artistic approach reflects a devotional attitude, prioritizing candor, craftsmanship, and reverence for the inherited legacy passed down from her mentors and forebears.

In that wide embrace of the arts and crafts and a Morrissian reverence for life lies the reason, I believe, for the studio’s affinity for her approach, and why Karima’s always a dream for us to work with. 

Visit the webpage for Karima’s show “The Light Gets In” at Brea Gallery…

View “High Water,” Karima’s 2021 show at the Holton Studio Gallery…

Re-Framing Manuel Valencia

Here are two historical California landscape paintings by turn-of-the-century Bay Area painter Manuel Valencia (c. 1856 – 1935). The oils on canvas have no dates, but are said to have been done around 1910. WeManuel Valencia painting in old frame re-framed them for our friends at California Historical Design.

The first one, which is 20″ x 24″, came to us in the frame at right, and is shown below in its new frame.

We set both paintings in No. 4001 through mortise-and-tenon frames, in stained quartersawn white oak, with carved ovolo liners finished with bronze wax. The side members are 2-1/2″ wide, and the top and bottom rails are 3″ wide. Raised square plugs articulate the corners. Trevor Davis made them.

Manuel Valencia painting reframedManuel Valencia painting reframedManuel Valencia painting in old frameThis second painting, which is 20″ x 30″, came to us in the frame at right, and is shown below in its new frame.

It’s available for purchase from California Historical Design, here. The first painting is available here.

More on Manuel Valencia…

—Tim Holton


Manuel Valencia paintingManuel Valencia painting

Framing Thomas Hill’s Yosemite Valley View

Thomas Hill (1829-1908) was born in Birmingham, England, and immigrated to New England as a teenager. In 1851, he married Charlotte Elizabeth Hawkes and started his large family (eventually having nine children; grandchildren would include Norman Rockwell). Photo of Thos. HillAt age 24, he began studying painting, and before long befriended members of the Hudson River School, like Benjamin Champney. (We framed one great example, here, from a favorite destination of outings Hill went on with these artists, the White Mountains of New Hampshire.) In 1861, Hill moved his family to San Francisco. Four years later, in the company of painter Virgil Williams and photographer Carlton Watkins, he took what is evidently his first trip to Yosemite—the place he’s most closely associated with, and where, several years later, he would set up shop at the Wawona Hotel. On the original trail in to the Valley, the inn served as an ideal location for the artist to provide tourists with souvenirs of what was invariably a memorable visit to the natural wonder that is Yosemite Valley.

This painting by Hill, measuring 24″ x 20″, is an example of those works. The frame we made for it is a carved compound mitered frame, 3-1/2″ wide, in quartersawn white oak with Dark Medieval Oak stain. Thos. Hill painting of Yosemite Valley

Thos. Hill painting of Yosemite Valley

Thomas Hill, view of El Capitan and Bridalveil Falls, 26″ x 21″.

The customer had seen on my site another very similar Hill painting of Yosemite Valley—this one at left—and liked its gilt oak liner with painted lettering captioning the scene and the majestic landmarks, El Capitan and Bridal Veil Falls. While we’d made a new frame for this earlier Hill, its liner was original. The customer asked us to replicate that for his painting.

Trevor Davis made the frame. I did the lettering on the liner.






Thos. Hill painting as backdrop to Obama inaugural luncheonHill’s most famous painting is his huge 8′ x 12′ “The Last Spike” (1881), honoring the 1869 completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. But his enduring reputation has at least as much to do with his paintings of Yosemite and the powerfully influential part they played in the conservation of American wilderness. This is evident in the fact that his View of the Yosemite Valley, commemorating Lincoln’s 1864 Yosemite Grant, was chosen as the backdrop for the head table at President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Luncheon in 2009, hosted by the Senate in Statuary Hall.

More posts on framing Thomas Hill may be found here and here.

—Tim Holton


Big Sale on Our Frame Inventory

A quick post today to announce that most of the frames in our inventory are now on sale. Discounts are up to 60%. Sale goes through next Saturday, May 4. You can shop the sale on our ecommerce site, here.

Many of the best discounts are on odd size frames, which are often especially interesting to artists, who can make pictures to fit these frames.

We don’t have many sales. Our last one was more than two years ago. So this is a great opportunity! Check it out…

Framing Edgar Payne

When today’s California landscape painters talk about the tradition that inspires them, the name of Edgar Alwin Payne (1883-1947) invariably comes up. We recently had the honor of framing Payne’s 14″ x 14″ gouache titled “Sierra Vastness.” The painting all but designed its own frame, a No. 143.6 CV— 3″ with carved cushion back edge, and carved sight edge chamfer leafed with rose gold that matches the rose under-painting. Trevor made the frame in walnut, and Sam finished it with linseed oil and wax.

Framed Edgar Payne painting

Edgar Payne gouache painting in white mat & gold frameThis was a re-framing job. At right you can see how it came to us.









Framed Edgar Payne paintingI like this quote from Payne’s 1941 book, The Composition of Outdoor Painting: “A painter needs to study, meditate and experiment and practice interminably in order to produce a painting that would have nobility in its concept, variety, rhythm, repetition, unity, balance and harmony in its composition.” The thriving culture of landscape painting our state enjoys today stands in no small part on that belief and the exemplary body of work it produced.

Payne’s reputation earned him the honor of having a lake in his beloved Sierra Nevada named after him. The oil painting below, “Payne Lake,” depicts that spot. Apparently our gouache is also of Payne Lake. A study for the oil, perhaps?

—Tim Holton

A Little Bit World Famous

This month, for the third time in the past year, we’ve been chosen by our industry’s trade publication, Picture Framing Magazine, for its Design of the Month honors. And this time the featured piece, our framing of an important antique Dutch map of the world, was also picked to grace the cover! In a post last October—read it here—I presented the early 17th century Willem Blaeu map set in a carved and fumed quartersawn white oak frame with inlaid stone and glass. (The post includes photos of the process of making this frame.)

You’ll find Holton Studio’s previous works picked by PFM for their Design of the Month (for the April and December 2023 issues, as well as one in June 2021) posted here, here, and here. Also, for the March 2021 issue of the magazine, the editor, Kim Biesiada, wrote an excellent profile of the Studio, available here.

Thank you, Kim Biesiada and Picture Framing Magazine, for the recognition!

Read this month’s article here.

Picture Framig Magazine