Frames have existed since the 2nd century B.C. when borders were found drawn around Etruscan cave paintings. It seems that since people have been creating art they have searched for the proper way to display it. The middle ages produced frames that were handcrafted. The frames were first carved out of wood then covered in Gesso and Gold Leaf. These frames stunned the onlookers with their beauty and attention to detail. Most of the frames at the time were designed to model after the church. This made the crafters use the architectural motifs they were seeing in the church. An example of this was the tabernacle frames; “although such frames could provide protection from dust (or rain, if outside), their chief purpose was symbolic: to act as a shrine and elevate the image.” (National Gallery of Art) Seen to the right is a frame at The National Gallery of Art from the Samuel H. Kress Collection.
Handcrafted frames continued through the different centuries, with each crafter incorporating their style and the trends of that period. The 19th century was when handcrafted frames began to see a decline and frames started to get mass-produced. The Old Schwamb Mill is a woodworking mill in Arlington, Massachusetts. This mill began to operate in 1864 until 1969 when it was turned into a working museum. Today visitors can visit the mill and watch oval frames get made with the original equipment. “In addition to preserving the mill as a public museum, the Trust rents upstairs spaces in the Mill to architects and engineers engaged in historic preservation and the Barn as a retail showroom facility for Shaker Workshops, an international mail order catalogue business offering highest quality reproduction furniture and accessories in kits and finished form.” (The Old Schwamb Mill Online)
In today’s world, frame making is no longer the same; digital frames are now being produced featuring all the latest technology. Frames not only look different but they have features that people would never have imagined. To the right is a frame from Ceiva. People can now upload multiple pictures to display slideshows for their friends and family. Check out How Stuff Works to learn more about this new technology.
Although the new frames are fascinating there is still nothing more classic then one of your favorite pictures held in a vintage frame.