|“You Do Not Do,” by Lorna Nakell|
I came home last week and there was a big-ass painting sitting in the living room chair. There had to be a story behind it, because it can’t have gotten there on its own. Turns out Dave had scored it from the artists next door, who had decided to clean out their basement. They’re good artists, and it was a good painting. And it was five bucks! Unfortunately the painting had slouched in its (big-ass) frame. It would need to be taken apart and recombobulated.
“Can you do that?” Dave asked. “I want to put it in my bathroom.”
That’s where a lot of our good art goes. Dave spends some serious time in the bathroom, much of it quality time, and he likes to look at his gallery.
“No problem,” I said. I have personally framed and matted some fifty or sixty pieces of art in this house. I try to avoid the framing stores. Professional framing is great, but it will drain your beer budget in a hurry. The painting, a pastel portrait, had come unmoored from its mat, and needed to be re-taped. Ordinarily I could put a project like this off for years, but this was (as previously described) a big-ass painting that was likely to get in the way, so I got right on it.
An hour or four later I had liberated the mat and painting and had the big metal frame in parts and the glass carefully stowed against cat intrusions and a precarious pile of screws, clips, and corners in detention on my desk. Pastel is pure pigment in powdered form. The painting, exhilarated at being freed from its prison after twenty years, began shedding pigment with great joy and abandon. Colored motes cartwheeled through the sunbeams. The lighter colors tossed their dusty hats into the air like Mary Tyler Moore.
But there was more going on here than mat, painting, and glass. The mat was glued to foamboard, for some reason. I pried that apart, re-taped the painting, glued it all back together because why the hell not, and went to clean the glass.
Huh. Not glass after all; Plexiglas. Did you know you can’t use Windex on Plexiglas or it clouds up? I didn’t either. Plus, it had big scratches across it.
Huh. Also, the glass doesn’t go on top of the mat after all. There’s a foam bit in the frame that forms a channel for the glass and for the painting and keeps them both an inch apart. I decided to buy real glass. A nice lady named Jessica at Beard’s Frame Shop said she’d cut me one while I waited, so off I went. And she gave me some assembly tips. Evidently you can slide the picture in the bottom part and then you can rest the glass on some beanbags (of course I have beanbags, in the shape of a frog and a salamander–who doesn’t?) and slide the whole top part of the frame over it, easy peezy.
Did you know you can spend $83 on a piece of fucking glass? I didn’t either. Special glass, it was, with some kind of coating on it to protect the painting from UV light. For $83, I want it to repel gamma rays and Fox News. Jessica wrapped my special glass up for me, and I turned for home, expressing some self-doubt.
“Would you like me to do it for you?” Jessica said.
“No,” I told her. “I want to fart around with it for three or four days and then have you do it for me.” Ha ha! I crack myself up. I didn’t mean it, of course. I was home for less than an hour before bringing it back for her to do it for me.
I couldn’t get the glass to line up in the channel. It was too wide to make those micro-adjustments on both sides at once by myself. It was like trying to invade Poland and France at the same time with a single Panzer. I summoned Dave. Dave had just thrown his back out and was consequently in a fabulous mood. Plus, he’s the guy you want lifting the car off you, but not threading your needles. And this was a delicate operation. The glass wasn’t about to slide in that frame unless it responded to naughty language, which, in fact, did not impress it at all. I dismissed Dave, who had already concluded that the glass was the wrong size and also maybe he’d married the wrong person. I said I needed time to think.
I thought real hard, had another go, and snapped off a tiny corner of the $83 glass. I thought some more. I thought that getting the professional framer in on the job would ultimately be cheaper than doing it myself, once I factored in the emergency room bills and the cost of a messy divorce. I brought it back: the glass, the painting, the frame in dozens of pieces, a quorum of screws, clips, and corners, and my credit card, still warm.
“I don’t know,” Jessica said. “This is weird. This is a home-made channel glued into this frame. No wonder you had trouble. I can try to make it work, but I’m not sure.” Mollified, I got out of her way. Then she and her coworker Sarah spanked it all together in ten minutes like it was a grilled cheese sandwich, taped it up in protective cardboard, gave me hanging hook hardware, and hoped I’d have a nice day. No charge. I considered bursting into tears, but opted instead to just bake them some cookies. I don’t have skills, but I do have my dignity.
No wonder framing costs so much! This is why I buy cheap frames at Michael's and hope that people look at the art and not the bloody frame.
Oh I do too. I do have something I want framed professionally now, and it's going to take a lot of latte money. Fortunately, I don't drink lattes.
After all that, the painting better give you good value in return. Hopefully it's one of those Dorian Gray type deals. I'd settle for nothing less.
The Dorian Gray deals are SO expensive!
I have to admit I get perpetual joy out of the art in my house. Seems to be money well spent.
Paintings in his bathroom? My wife would love for me to have my own bathroom – I don't know why?
I could venture a gas.
My DIY rule is after the third trip to the hardware store, I hire someone who knows what he is doing.
Has there ever been a project that required fewer than three trips to the hardware store?
A serious bathroom picture. A seriously bathroom picture. Job well done, no matter which.
Artists love it when you look over their work and say "I need something big for over the bathtub."
I did the glass chip last time I redid on, but it didn't show once together. I fussed with it so long I gave it away when done.
You can't see my glass chip either. I'm just about certain that if I'd given it another ten minutes of effort, you would have.
Dave must have a big-ass bathroom to accommodate such a big-ass picture..
Careful…careful…watch it now…
My beanbags are in the shape of a crab and a lizard of some sort. I doubt they would have been of any use, though. Bless the ladies at Beard's Frame Shop! The eponymous Beard being no doubt related – however distantly – to my beloved husband, I am happy to hear of their wonderfulness.
I too am a Beard Fan, Mrs. Beard, long may they wave–although I prefer them short.
Well done girls; I'm thinking they'll enjoy those cookies more than money. Hope Dave's back feels better soon.
They WERE good cookies, but more than money? These days? Doubtful.
"…repel gamma rays and Fox News…"
I prefer to take stuff to the framer, but it's drinking money, isn't it? So I just get the mats cut and frame the pictures at home. With beautiful black fur trim….sigh
There's no gettin' out from under the black fur trim.
Jessica is good people – and deserves her cookies. Snickering at dinahmow's 'black fur trim' comment. In this house everything has a patina of fur.
Hope Dave's back calms down soon.
Dave is all sparkling new again. I can tell because as soon as he feels better he picks me up and stands me on a box or something, the better to hug.
"as soon as he feels better he picks me up and stands me on a box or something" … That's the most adorable imagery I've read in ages! Thanks <3
He's a pretty adorable guy, and I give lots of extra credit points to people who can pick me up like I'm a floor lamp.
Do we all look this serious when we're stinking, er, thinking?
Just to clear things up, I have been informed that there is nothing in Dave's bathroom that could possibly stink.
I am a pretty handy guy and have been known to subject myself to voluntary servitude for fresh baked cookies.
Wish you lived closer. We could have a beautiful relationship.
a painter friend had a showing. One person circled around and back over and over to one painting, and finally, confidentially, asked the artist where she had it framed.
Holy crap. That's even worse than "how long did it take you to paint this?"
Thank you for the addition to my vocabulary: recombobulated. And, of course, thanks for the account. You have a wonderful friend in the framing lady.
I'm supposed to have a friend in Jesus, but the framing ladies are great too.
Dave must feel flushed with success, having wiped up at that price. A painting titled "You Do Not Do" just feels right for a bathroom, doesn't it!
I am 100% embarrassed to admit that I didn't think of that.
And this is why I have things on paper just stuck to my wall with Blu-Tak.
…off to look up "Blue-Tak…"
Doesn't it make you feel like your skills are nil and brain cells had passed on???!!! Especially when someone else accomplishes in a short time what you spent hours workign on and never accomplishing!
I think it used to, more. Now I just feel deep gratitude and write down names and numbers for my future Staff.
I have always made sure that the bathrooms have interesting art. Once had a half bath under a stairway with a diagonal ceiling. The lower side extended to about 2 feet above the back of the toilet. It was there I hung a framed print of Peter Max's Toulouse Lautrec:
Perfect. The women can't see him, and the men wonder if they measure up.
Oh yeah, I spend $83 fucking dollars for glass all the time. Don't want my watercolors to fade first hint of sunlight. Oh, just so you know, you can windex but probably not ge cheap stuff. I never mind my paintings getting hung in bano galleries. They probably get better viewing there.
You, my dear, are an artist. So I feel a lot better about your assessment of $83 glass. I just pull the shades all over the house.
Love it. Funny, and, thank you so much. You make me feel so much better about the $80 frame job I'm getting for a Goodwill print for Geri's kitchen. I had been ruminating dismally about it for the last 24 hours. As my brother would say, "Declare victory and move on".
I've never met your brother, but already I like him.
I was going to comment on this post, but you have too many comments already! I just wanted to say, that I would hang that painting in the garage…but we all have our unique tastes.
You must have a FABULOUS garage!
I tried to frame a picture once and it gave me a lot of respect for professional framers. You have a great way for telling a story. You know English being my 3rd language, it’s hard for me to use non-standard English words in my posts – I wish I could. You have a knack for it. (To be truthful I had to go to the dictionary to check on “knack” ! you see what I mean.)
Well, you're my hero, Vag. (Possibly not the best abbreviation…) I learned French in school and went on to college vowing to pick up German, but it turned out every new German word I learned pushed out a perfectly good French word. Now I can't speak any other language. If a French person speaks tres, tres lentement I can get the gist. Sorry, I have no access to accents.