Monday, February 19, 2007

A Framing Story and How this all began

I have a sad story - (with a lesson)

Years ago, I went on my first business trip/vacation. It was in September, only weeks after Hurricane Andrew had torn through southern Florida - and my company was sending me to....Miami Beach. Living in New England, a trip to Florida seemed great - except for the fact that the Hurricane devastation was amazing.

Anyway, I was feeling not-quite-right when I got on the plane and by the time arrived I was feeling quite miserable. A couple of phone calls later I found out that a number of my friends at home had the mumps - and since I really couldn't turn my head and had a nice fever, it seemed that I had the same thing. Anyway, business meetings were out of the question and due to the desctruction in the area, it was hard to even find a pharmacy that was open. I wanted to pretty much stay away from everyone so I wouldn't give the mumps to anyone else - it was shaping up to be a pretty bleak week.

A couple days into the week, the hotel maid noticed my misery and suggested some sun and a book and maybe a hobby - she asked what kind of quiet activities I enjoyed and she suggested knitting and said she'd be back later with a project to occupy my week. Hours later she returned and informed me that, unfortunately, her favorite yarn shop had been badly damaged in the storm. But, the good news was, she found another project that I might enjoy. She handed me a bag with a piece of fabric, an embroidery hoop, a jumble of threads and a pattern with a beautiful picture on the front and heiroglyphics on the back.

The next afternoon, Elsie (the maid and my new friend) returned to show me how to decipher the pattern and how to start my new hobby. The pattern was for Gift of Peace from Lavender & Lace and that was the beginning of my love for cross stitch.
It took me a year or so, but I finally finished my stitching and I searched for a needlework shop near my home to have my Santa framed. It was tough to find a needlework shop that also did framing, but I persevered and found one. I picked out a nice oval frame and the framer went to work. That was more than 10 years ago.
I recently learned that Elsie, my friend in Miami, passed away after a battle with cancer. This Christmas when I put my Santa in a more prominent place for the season, I took a close look at my piece and remembered how kind this woman was. Just think - her home and all around it had been nearly destroyed, here was this kid with the mumps (quite contagious mumps) moping around a hotel in the middle of all of this destruction, and she came to help me. While she said it helped her to keep busy and to sit and stitch peacefully with other people, and if she wasn't stitching with me, she would be stitching by herself at home until her extended family could come help her with repairs to her house. I'm sure she never expected me to fall in love with stitching and to some day open my own shop.
So - to the framing part. While looking at my Gift of Peace this Christmas, I noticed that the fabric had loosened - quite a bit. Hmmm. That can't be good.
So I brought it to a needlework shop that I've found since beginning my hobby to have it re-framed. OK - here's the tough part - Imagine my horror when the framer called to say that she had really bad news. It seems that the original framer had - get this - cut the linen so she could fit it flat in the oval frame. She didn't trim the edges which would have been bad enough - she "clipped" the fabric - just like you would if you were sewing a curved seam in clothing. I cried. I cried a lot. It was so bad that we couldn't even figure out how to reframe it the way it was originally. The framer had used tape - so when it was removed the fabric really frayed at each of the notches that were cut in the fabric.
OK - I have cried about this for about a week. At this point, I think I will sew strips of fabric to the "sides" and finish the piece as a pillow. The lesson here is to be sure to know your framer. The framers I have used in the last ten years have been wonderful. They lace my needlework. The mounting is always perfect. They will even clean my pieces if I haven't gotten them just perfect. After all the hours that go into stitching your piece, you want to be sure that it will be handled correctly in the finishing process. Finishing is an art and and a skill. Its perfectly reasonable to ask to see samples of a finisher's work before handing over your stitchery. Different framers and finishers will do things differently - you just want to be sure that whatever is done to your piece will not compromise its strength and beauty.

1 comment:

  1. I will remember your sage words of advice....But what a wonderful memory you have to keep Elsie's memory alive. That was a gift from above :) There is triumph from all tragedy.