Michaels was having a sale on custom framing this weekend. Half off the regular price. I took four odd-sized paintings I got in Shanghai a couple of years ago. They’d been rolled up in a paper tube ever since I bought them.
Paul with a goatee let me go behind the frame shop counter and pull my own frames off the carpeted wall. I took down frame corner after frame corner. I wanted something minimalist, yet I gravitated to brushed metal in neon colors and thick ornate wood. I finally decided on a wood frame that must have been at least three inches wide. It was stained black with decorative embossing, except raised. I requested an eggshell-white mat, also three inches wide.
Paul asked me if I wanted the special glass that cuts down the glare. Back when I worked at The Framery near the University of New Mexico, we never recommended non-glare glass; it was almost so frosty you could hardly see the image. This new non-glare stuff was way better. Kind of like the UV tint you can get on your eyeglass lens. “Yes, give me the Masterpiece Glass,” I told Paul.
While Paul crunched the numbers on his calculator, I stood staring at the frames I’d rejected. I thought about the many other pieces of art I’ve had framed. One time I went to one of those boutique frame shops and picked out a really nice wood that had been stained bright red. It sounds ugly now, but it’s gorgeous. It was years ago, and it cost so much I vowed I’d never go anywhere for my framing but Ben Franklin’s, K-Mart, or Michaels. A year or so ago I framed about six photographs, all at Hobby Lobby, I think.
Paul finished the calculations. “Two-hundred fifty-eight,” he said.
“Each??,” I asked.
“That’s before the 50% off, right?”
Poor Paul. I went back to the drawing board. Threw out the wood. Landed on skinny black metal — the basic foodstuff of frames. We got the smaller prints down to $103 each. The larger ones a bit more.
Egads. No wonder so many paintings and posters stay stuffed away in my closet.