Your Choice

Imperial or metric?  Which measurement system do you use?
Did you begin your senior education prior to 1971, or following it?                  Why 1971?

Because 1971 was the year that Great Britain/UK adopted the metric system.
I am fortunate, because my educational development was, to all intents and purposes, completed before 1971.  So I have the choice whether I work using the Imperial measurement system or the metric one.  And admittedly, it is often convenient to be able to switch easily from one to the other.
I ask, because the question sometimes arises when framers (of my generation), congregate and chat.  And the question seems to arise because whilst GB/UK has embraced the metric system for in excess of 40 years, many items/articles are referenced still using the Imperial system of measurement.  In fact some articles are referenced using a mixture of the two systems. Imperial in one direction and metric in the other. Or offered as alternatives to one another.  Woodworking tools are a classic case in point. Traditionally, chisels were always designated by 1/8th of an inch increments of width to 1″ and then quarter of an inch increments above 1″.  Now, instead of having 5mm – 10mm – 15mm – 20mm – 25mm, we have instead metric equivalents of the Imperial sizes:  so 6mm – 10mm – 12.7mm – 19mm.
Purchase a panel saw, and it will be a 20″ or 22″ or 24″ blade x the number of teeth (points) per inch.
And the art world is no exception.
Many photographic printers still use the Imperial system:
You order a 6″ x 4″ or a 12″ x 8″ or a 30″ x 20″ photo.
Similarly with artwork prints on canvas (giclée)
And stretcher bars for canvases.
And a mountcutter is traditionally a 40″ or a 48″ or a 60″. (admittedly they are sometimes nowadays referred to as 1000, 1200 or 1500mm.) :-D

My Morso F (mitre guillotine) is a 50 years old model.  Still going strong and unerringly accurate.
And, of course, it is calibrated in Imperial inches; in quarter of an inch divisions.
No margin rule or accumulator on the measuring arm, just simple inclined scribed lines on the right hand extension arm, and a 45º stop block.

I do all of my framing work using Imperial measurement. Working to 1/16th of an inch.
It works very well for me.  I can convert to metric. But often, if I feel the need to do so, I have to pay particular attention to ensure that mistakes don’t occur.

For myself, I don’t mind which system I use so long as whatever I use is effective.  If I am working with someone (an artist/a contemporary/a customer) who prefers to (or is only able to) use the metric system, I am quite happy to comply with their directives: but given the choice, when framing, I always use Imperial, but when wood-turning or doing bench joinery, I will always use metric.

Funny old world, isn’t it?

I was taught, as a teenaged apprenticed bench-joiner, to learn to carry out any operation, if not perfectly, then at least to the very best of my ability, and to ensure that my ‘best’ was very good.  It was later explained to me that if I was capable of good quality work, but could also recognise all of the various levels of quality, down to ‘cheap & cheerful’, I would then be able to make my own choices about the quality of work that I produced ~ whereas the ‘cheap & cheerful’ worker had no choice – because he knew no other way to work.

I was also taught, when learning to turn wood on the lathe, that the ability to be ambidextrous was a real advantage, because by being able to use the chisel in either your left hand or your right hand meant that you could approach difficult to reach operations more easily and effectively; thus producing better work.
In other words, being able to work left or right-handed provided me with a choice of approach, which enabled me to perform better.

And, have you noticed how the choices a person makes, will tell infinitely more about that person, than their natural abilities and talents.


Heat Failure #

I had an interesting telephone call yesterday; from a ‘senior’ and very genteel lady whose picture had fallen off the wall, which had shattered the glass as well as causing severe damage to one of the corners of her frame.  Would I please be so kind as to call round and sort everything out for her?
I duly went to the address provided, to find, on being admitted to the lounge, that the picture in question had been hanging upon the centre of a chimney breast above an open fireplace, with what seemed to me to be a very moderate width of mantel above it.

Now for those belonging to a modern generation, and not familiar with the presence of an open fireplace in a living area, allow me explain some possibly historically unknown domestic facts to you.
The first fact is that the majority (anything up to 80%) of the heat produced by an open fossil burning fire disappears up the chimney, thus making the facing brickwork and plaster of the chimney breast very hot: and the relatively small remainder of the heat produced is radiated into the room.  And because the radiating effect is quite small, almost as soon as the heat (accompanied by a significant amount of residual smoke) leaves the proximity of the fireplace, it disperses upwards.
The purpose of the mantel, traditionally a slate, stone or timber shelf, positioned above the fireplace, is to divert the heated air (smokey and soot impregnatedhence the necessity for the annual ‘spring-clean’ :evil: ) into the room and away from the decorated chimney breast wall area immediately above the fireplace.
(this explains the alacrity with which the comparatively clean, silent and efficient first central heating systems were embraced during the 1960 -70s:lol:

What had happened with my lady customer was that because the mantel was so narrow as to be ineffective in its purpose of diverting hot air, combined with the tendency of the ‘senior’ lady in question to have the fire lit more often than perhaps most of us would consider strictly necessary, was that the cord from which the now displaced picture had been hanging, had become smoke and soot impregnated, brittle and correspondingly weaker as time went by, until it could no longer sustain the weight of the picture and its frame.
Down it came, bouncing on one of its corners onto the mantel, before crashing to the hearth of the fireplace.

So, it came back to workshop with me.
The cord was replaced with a stainless steel wire and crimped ferrules; which should easily outlast my lady customer.  The damaged corner of the frame was cut away and two new pieces of wood spliced into position.  Today I have refinished the spliced corner, re-glazed the frame, reassembled everything and it looks as good as new.
I’m quietly confident that my customer will be pleased with the result: and I’m not going to tell her why her hanging cord snapped.  She’ll be very happy just to have the picture back on the wall.  (she doesn’t read blogs, because she doesn’t have a PC) :lol:

For us who frame however, it may be worth bearing in mind that some of the old natural cords, as well as the modern nylon ones, don’t perform indefinitely, or even as may be anticipated, when subjected to relatively intense heat.
Wire is an infinitely better proposition, in such situations. :-D

Hearts & Minds

An American warfare social rehabilitation programme?  No !! :roll:

If you have read ‘A Salutory Lesson’, you will know that I have committed myself to raising the standard of all of the work that I produce, not simply the framing side of things.
Whenever I commit to such a proposal, I am immediately faced with the apparent conundrum of ‘Yes. OK. But how?’  The standard of work that I presently produce is very acceptable to 99.9% of my clients, so what am I proposing to do, to raise the standard to a level which will satisfy the remaining 00.099% of (as yet) so-far-unconfronted-clients?

Inverse the Rule
Which Rule?
The rule which says:
“What the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over.”

We have all heard it quoted.  Whether we have fully understood it or not.
We may have been the one who quoted it to someone else ~ to establish a point.
Now the inverse is equally true and, indeed, is equally beneficial, in terms of raising a standard.
What the heart
(thought or conscience, if you like) doesn’t concern itself with; the eye, in all probability, will neither see, nor be bothered about seeing.

As an example:
The rear of the frame is rarely seen, whilst the front and the edges are on continual display ~ to be appreciated, scrutinised &/or criticised.
The rear of the frame is seen probably only by the framer, the owner, or the hanger.
So does it matter?  “What the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over.”
But if, in light of my proposal, I determine that I will ensure that the rear of the framing work, which may not be seen, is as good as the front, which will always be seen, then surely some measure of progress will have been made toward achieving my goal.
And if I ensure that the inverse of the rule will not be applied:
“What the heart doesn’t grieve over, the eye won’t see.” to the front of the work, and will neverever, be allowed to apply, then once more, beneficial progress will be made.

That tiny over-cut on a window mount.
Does it matter?  Of course it matters.
Will it be seen?  Does it matter whether it’s seen or not?  It’s not up to spec.
It is the work of only a few moments to calibrate the over and under-cut stops on a modern mat cutter to suit the thickness of mount-board being used for a particular job.

And the trouble with such small details as over-cuts, no matter how tiny, is that, like the ubiquitous flumb*4, it is very possible that the client may spot it, when my eye has completely missed it.
Egg-on-the-face time. :oops:

It doesn’t just apply to over-cuts of course.
The same principle may be applied to all manner of details on the ‘front’ of the work.
Minutely damaged or open corners
A ‘ding’ to a sight line
Imperfect V grooves
Loose pastel flakes
Imprecise pen lines
Scratches on glass
Assymmetrical double mounts etc, & so it goes on.

So in both of my workshops, fixed to a wall, is a printed notice which asks:
Is the front as near perfect as you can possibly make it ?
And is the back at least as good?

*4 ~ see Glossary of Terms; under About TAA

Too Hot?

For the first time this year, it has been so hot here in Northampton that I’ve had to roll the gummed tape through the dispenser twice, so that it is sufficiently wet to allow me the  time to tape up the rear of the framed artwork, after tabbing, without the tape becoming too dry to stick after it has been corner-cut and folded into position.

Has it really been that hot?
Or am I just getting slow?
I’ll let you know when the weather returns to normal. :-P :-P

A Salutory Lesson

I have always prided myself that I strive to ensure that the unseen part [back or underneath] of whatever I produce will always be as good as what will be seen.
It has been something of a mantra for me since I started wood-turning and framing professionally.  A source of pride that my customer will be as pleased with the back or the underneath [the normally unseen part] of his/her purchase as he/she is with what is visibly displayed.

Well, I visited a colleague yesterday, and during the course of discussing various aspects of our work, he showed me some of his most recent work and present commissions.
And I have to admit that I was very impressed, not only with the obvious quality of those parts of his framing which will be manifestly visible, but also with the attention to detail given to those parts of the finished artwork which will, for the vast majority of the time, remain unseen.  Whether it involved the mounting of a piece of photographic art or floating a canvas print in a box frame, the quality remained consistently exceptionally good.
I was sufficiently impressed to examine some of my own work as soon as I arrived back in my workshop, with a necessarily critical eye, and was forced to concede that his work is better than mine.  Not dramatically so, I hasten to add :-) yet nevertheless, recognisably superior.
Far from being dismayed by this demonstration of excellence ~ not, incidentally, I’m sure, intended to be such on the part of my colleague, I am now inspired to raise my effort, both in terms of what will be seen and what will remain unseen.

I have committed myself to raising my standard to a similar level of excellence, during the course of this month.   :-)
Interaction is so often immensely useful, in many more ways than one.

And, no.  I have absolutely no intention of disclosing to you who it was that I visited, as I’m sure he has quite sufficient customers as it is.  :-P :-P

As a footnote, I also have to rather smugly concede, that as the colleague concerned is primarily a photographic and colour reproduction expert, and a very, very good framer, my wood-turning is much, much better, than his.