Winter Frame-Building

moose in winter snow storm

A moose we saw on our walk in the first snow storm.

Winter finally graced us with its presence this week here in Anchorage, Alaska.  The good news is that the bright white snow mitigates the darkness; the bad news is that it’s time to build frames for two upcoming art shows.  You see, since I live in a small condo, and my studio is in one of the bedrooms, I have to build my frames outside.  Otherwise, the sawdust gets all over our living space.  I wish I had built the frames before the first snowfall, but I was busy building a cabin, and painting.

Artist building frames outside in snow

Using my miter saw on top of the table saw behind the condo building.

First, I carry my table saw out of my small bedroom studio, through the condo, out the door, along the catwalk, and down a flight of stairs to the back area where the smokers hang out next to the barbecues, and where piles of sawdust and noise pollution are tolerated by my patient neighbors.  I use the table saw to cut an L shape along the length of the hemlock fir studs, and then I power sand and cut miters with my miter saw, which I also drag outside from my studio.  Once I finish with all the power tools I bring the wood back inside for construction.  Gluing and nailing all the frames takes all day, and then I am ready for finishing work such as filling any cracks and nail holes with wood putty.  Then comes the finish-sanding.  I do this outside as well, and I have to say, my fingers get pretty cold during the wintertime.  First I sand with the blue sand paper (80 grit), then the red sand paper (150 grit), and finally the yellow sand paper (220 grit).  Then I coat the frames with polyurethane inside my studio.  Between the first two coats, I go back outside to sand with the yellow sand paper, and then bring the frames back inside to finish with a final third coat.  Then I place the paintings into the frames and nail them in place.  The final step is screwing two eye hooks for the hanging wire, and tying the wire.

Although each frame takes hours to complete, the actual materials are inexpensive, so I save money in the end.  My frames are far from perfect, but they make the paintings look uniform in a show and protect them from damage.  One day I hope to have a larger indoor studio with proper ventilation so I don’t have to build frames outside in the winter.

Last year I used my 1964 Schwinn tandem bike as a drying rack for my frames.

Last year I used my 1964 Schwinn tandem bike as a drying rack for my frames.

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