I Want It Before ……


Today was not by any means the occasion of the first exclamation ‘I want it before Christmas – it will be a present, you see’.
But the enquiry, and to be fair it was a politely expressed enquiry, even if the request did appear to be bathed in a coating of sincere supplication, was made only three days before Christmas Day.

My immediate response was that it was extremely unlikely that the work, three newly completed oil canvases, would be available in time, given the amount of work I have taken on, to which I have already given assurances that it all will be ready in time to wrap up in paper and tinsel before the
Big Day.
The gentleman enquirer said that he understood the situation, though was naturally somewhat disappointed that his request could not be accommodated. He asked for an approximate price for me to stretch and gallery wrap his three pieces of artwork. Which I duly provided for him, explaining that the price I had given was dependent entirely upon his estimation of sizes and description of the artwork and that I would need to view the work to provide him with a firm price. He ended the telephone conversation by saying that he would discuss the matter with his partner and then, asked when he could call around with his artwork. I provided the information, thanked him for his enquiry, and honestly anticipated that being the end of the matter.
I often receive such enquiries at this time of the year for no other reason than potential customers have trawled around all of the shop based framers and have either been appalled by the prices given for work to their artwork, and/or have been bluntly told that their request is ludicrously late in terms of completion before Christmas. So, they explore the net. The www.pleasehelpi’mdesperate.com Their last ditch chance that they may find something/someone/anyone who can get them out of the somewhat disordered position that they have managed to get themselves into.

And of course, they find me. Lucky people.
Little old me. Who is just sitting in my workshop, drumming my fingers on my bench, waiting for their telephone call. Just wishing I had something to do. Ready to immediately leap into frenzied action on their behalf.

Now if the estimated cost of the work which I provide them with doesn’t immediately illicit a “You have got to be joking!! You can’t charge that much. I want the piccy framing, not a bloody en-suite/five bedroomed house building around it. C’mon pal. Get real. It’s only four bits of wood slapped round a grotty picture”, you know very well that your estimate is nowhere near as exorbitant as those they have already received from the High Street shops.
So given the opportunity to do so, the customer is likely to stick with you. Unless you blow it, of course

But no matter how smug you feel, you still have to maintain that you can’t possibly fit their work into your busy schedule before Christmas. Which is perfectly true. You can’t. November and December are manic times for people like myself, who produce decorative (as opposed to functional) woodturning, picture framing, photography, pen sets, light pulls galore, etc. We become inundated with enquiries from generously minded potential customers looking for something ‘a little special’ to give to a friend, a family member, a loved one at Christmas.

In much the same manner that gymnasiums are inundated with the mildly, through to the extravagantly, fat/unhealthy/unfit individuals during May, as their intention is to slide their potentially rejuvenated form into the smallest of swimwear, or less as the case may be, and relax on the Mediterranean beaches during June, July or August.
And that, Beluga my little whale, no matter how hard you work, is just not going to happen. At least, not this year it’s not.

So imagine my surprise when the gentleman of this morning’s telephone conversation turned up on my doorstep, complete with his partner and three rolled canvases.
Together we looked at the artwork which had originated in Bali, and discussed their requirements in terms of how they would like the work to be carried out. And during the course of our discussion I sensed a very mild, yet admittedly well disguised, tension beginning to build between the gentleman and his non English partner. It was obvious that she wished to speak to him with some urgency, but due to her lack of fluency in English was not prepared to do so in my presence.
So I made an inane excuse to go out of the room and the moment I did so the lady began to implore her partner with her request.     When I returned he explained, in a manner which I suspect was not immediately obvious to his partner, that she was desperate to have the paintings hanging on the presently very bare walls of a newly decorated room, when their guests arrived for dinner on Christmas Day.
The gentleman expressed this in a manner which carried no hint of pleading or cajoling at all.    Rather it was a reserved and rational explanation of his partner’s dilemma.
I reiterated that I was very busy with work already committed to, and could provide no further assurance in terms of his partner’s desire to complete the decoration of her dining room.
He acknowledged my assertion in a very gracious manner.
And suddenly I found myself empathizing with another male, faced with the demands of a possibly emotional partner, knowing that he has no hole to bolt into. I have been there. I remember how exasperating it is and how unsettling the feeling of almost helplessness is.
As he was leaving I quietly asked for his mobile number and said that, without making any definite promises, if I could, I would ring him during Christmas Eve evening to let him know that his work is ready for collection.

So this evening, long after the workshop is normally locked up for the night, I have been constructing three appropriately sized frames, upon which to stretch the canvases on Christmas Eve afternoon, when everything else is completed.
His lady partner does not know, and probably never will know, that her pictures were hanging on her dining room walls during Christmas 2014, not singularly because of her emotional appeal to her man, but also because I could not stand by and see a fellow male in a predicament that I, with only a little extra effort, could assist him out of.

It is, after all, the season of Good Will.
And even the best of good will is often quite ineffectual without a little action, isn’t it?

5 Stags

I don’t often take a great deal of notice of artwork which I have in the workshop, to frame.  More often than not it is another piece of work – unless the subject particularly catches my eye.
And yesterday, a gentleman spoke to me outside my workshop, asking if I was ‘the picture framer’.  I conceded that yes, I was.  He asked if I could frame a photo for him.
And what a photo it was.
Five pristine Triumph Stags, lined up together.  In a parking bay which looked as if it had been designed specifically for them.  (if you don’t know what a Triumph Stag is – Google is your friend)

We agreed on a frame profile – and a price for the work.  And I reluctantly suggested that he could return for the finished article today.
Reluctantly, because when I was in my 20s – a long time ago – the Triumph Stag was one of the vehicles that I coverted, and longed for.
(I settled instead for an ex police Triumph 2.5 PI)

My friend, who lives across the road, and is approximately the same age as myself, responded to the photo in exactly the manner that I did.  And during yesterday afternoon and this morning until I started work on it, there have been a succession of similarly aged ‘memory laners’ through my workshop to oggle at the photo.
Suffice to say, the photo has been mounted, glazed and framed and returned to its owner.  But I did enjoy it whilst it was in my care.

So, thank you Marcus, from each of the locality’s ‘old-fogies’.
May your picture always hang straight.

Comfortably Warm

I have spent the majority of this week, either outside with the camera, taking commissioned shots, or in the workshop on the lathe or cutting and assembling frames.
The only time I have been truly warm is during the evenings.
I now understand why we do not see glamour photos of Eskimo ladies:-D
Given that the forecast is for a snowbound weekend, I have been to the shops and bought sufficient milk, and a loaf of bread, to ensure that there should be no further need to venture out again until well into next week.
And I will not be deprived of tea and toast. :-)

So, having been cold all week; today, when the snow appears to have arrived in earnest, I am safely, and warmly esconced indoors.
Sorting out artwork.
Producing mounts for a variety of pieces of art.
Hand-finishing some framing profiles.

Grand !!!!

1Kpx 1801 04 
the start  1Kpx 1801 012 silly crow
1Kpx 1801 07 
Mum, we need to get out in the snow – Pleeease
1Kpx 1801 017 
this looks as if it’s in for the duration
1Kpx 1801 Dx02 
with a ‘Landscape’ Menu setting – to try to make it look less grey and dismal than it really is.  The first four shots are on a ‘Neutral’ Menu setting, which is actually more accurate in terms of tone & colour.

1Kpx 1801 Dx03 
my workshop roof
taken from the comfort of the ‘clean workshop’ window.
  :oops: :-)

A client who is presently out in the States and due to arrive home on Sunday, suggested that he may call round to collect his finished articles as soon as he arrives back in the country.  Unless it is anything like this on the eastern seaboard, I suspect that by Sunday, having travelled from New York, via Heathrow, to Northampton, he may be happier just to get his feet in front of the fire.  Maybe he is made of much sterner stuff than I am: or can imagine.
We could, though I sincerely hope not, be knee-deep in snow by Sunday evening.

PCs and laptops take precedence over lathes, Morsos or carving benches.

As the daylight faded, I took some bread to the lake, to feed the ducks.
There was not one in sight when I arrived on the bank.
I clicked my tongue, twice, and magically mallards appeared from everywhere.
Almost instantly my feet were surrounded by at least fifteen ducks (and drakes).  When I dropped small pieces of bread into the snow for them, they couldn’t find the pieces. So I threw the bread pieces into the lake – it appears that fowl find food by sight or feel, rather than by smell   :lol:
For just those few moments I was as popular as I can ever remember having been.  :-D
It wasn’t much of a meal for them:   3 slices of bread between 15 ducks;  but they did behave as if that was all they had eaten all day.
And up to their waists in cold water too.   :-(

Do have a comfortably warm weekend folks  :lol:

Positive Critique

One of the very satisfying characteristics of this website is that, increasingly, people who visit to view, to browse, or to purchase, feel sufficiently comfortable to comment upon aspects of the site which they enjoy, appreciate, like, dislike, find either helpful or, alternatively, unhelpful.  If you don’t administrate a website you may possibly have no appreciation for the help and support that such constructive comment provides.

Today, someone with whom I have a very long and satisfying relationship, explained to me that he gets distracted.        By the blogs.
Upon the Home page are a list of the most recent blogs on the left hand side, of which, this is one.  And a random title will, apparently, catch his eye.  So he reads it.  Then he will spot another one which he thinks may be of interest.  And after some considerable time reading a number of blogs, he leaves the website, having completely forgotten that his original intention was to purchase a picture frame, or an article of wood-turning, artwork or a photograph.  And whilst sales and commissions are not the sole aim and purpose of the website, they are nevertheless an integral part of it.  Viewing, enjoyment, relaxation, information accessibility and resource are also vital to the website structure: yet the observation is a very valid one – if the viewer cannot easily find what he or she entered the site to find, they may become distracted and immersed in another aspect of the site.
And consequently, miss the whole point of their visit.

So I have added some advice – a directive – to the ‘Welcome to TAA‘, in green, at the head of the Home page.  Whether this proves sufficient to enable visitors to comfortably, and conveniently, navigate the site to find what they’re seeking, remains to be seen.  I’m sure that someone will comment appropriately. :-D
All of you good folk who have already registered with the website can easily add your observations and comments to this, or any of the other blogs.
And, of course, anyone who visits, who wishes to register and participate responsibly, will always be assured of a very warm welcome.

I Was Right

If you have read Grrrrrrr, you will remember that I concluded with the statement :-
“I’m back in business and things are looking up.
Or else, something really BAD is about to happen !!!

Well today it did.
I woke up this morning convinced that the date was Friday the 16th of November.  My calendar said it was the 16th ~ my mobile phone confirmed that it was the 16th.
I was happy with it being the 16th.

Yesterday, the 15th, I took delivery of some materials from Wessex Pictures, amongst which were the materials ordered for a customer’s watercolour painting.  I duly stocked the remainder of the order and commenced with doing the decorative ink-lining to the window mount for the watercolour.
That done I put it to one side whilst the ink dried, cut the glass and by the end of the day was satisfied that, for this job, I merely needed to cut and assemble the frame, put the whole package together and notify the customer that his painting was ready to collect.
That was yesterday.
Today started off nicely as Friday the 16th.
Until about 10:00am.
I had sorted out the frame profile for the watercolour from yesterdays delivery.  I had cut the mitres and glued and wedged one long and one short side together.  This, I had placed upon the workbench, as I commenced gluing and wedging the second long and short side.  It was at this point that Friday the 16th instantaneously turned into Friday 13th.
The first joined sides, quite inexplicably, toppled off the bench and onto the floor.  Onto the rear of the corner.
When I say “quite inexplicably“, what I mean is;  I was sure that I had placed the assembly on the workbench in such a manner that it would stay where I had put it.  However, I was wrong.  As vociferously as I blamed the piece for leaping off the bench, I had to admit that it was my fault.  I tried streaming the bruised section back to life; and in all fairness it almost recovered, but not quite.  I knew that the client would see it and object to it.  And as I had ordered just two lengths; one for the job and one for stock, (It’s not a section I sell a lot of, so don’t keep a large stock of it.) I pulled the other length from my stock rack and proceeded to make another frame.  I won’t tell you what happened to that one, sufficient to say that I made a mistake with the underpinner and I was less than pleased with the finished article.
Now I was faced with driving to Wessex Pictures (about a 50 miles round trip) to buy another length of framing section.
This I duly did.       [I bought two.  One for stock !]  :lol:
And during the drive to Leamington, I persuaded myself that I was not incompetent, useless, a blithering idiot &/or incapable.  All of which I had accused myself of being for the first quarter of an hour following the ‘quite inexplicable‘ fall and the subsequent ‘mistake‘.  I further reasoned with myself that the day had turned sour, not due to one of my ‘bad’ days, which I occasionally suffer as a result of the strokes, when co-ordination is difficult. 
(I was driving to Leamington OK)

It is so easy to look for, and find, something or someone else to blame, isn’t it?
The events of the day were simply due to the fact that I had been careless.
Nothing more.  Nothing less.

I returned from Leamington and made the frame.
The next step is to prepare the package ~ clean the inside surface of the glass ~ ensure that the artwork is spotlessly free of particles of dust, fibres, specks of foreign matter; then very carefully assemble the package ~ watercolour – glass – frame – tags to hold it in place ~ and turned it over to check that everything is still as pristine as just a moment ago.
Yes.  You’ve guessed it.  Flumbs. #  Five of the little monsters.
So take it all apart again.  And each and every one of them has disappeared.
Re-clean and re-assemble; hoping that you’ve got them all.
Sure enough.  All gone.  Not a flumb in sight anywhere.
Finish tagging the back of the frame.  Place the barrier board and tag that.  Tape the rear of the frame to prevent the ingress of any further foreign matter for the next 40 years.

#  see Glossary of Terms under the About TAA tab

Now from experience, I always turn the frame over again and check it for a second time at this point before fitting the final pieces to the rear of the frame.
I smugly turned it over.  And there it was.  In the top right hand corner. 
So small it almost couldn’t be seen.

So small it could easily be missed.
But I knew that the client would spot it.  Immediately.  In exactly the same way that he would spot a flashing blue light.  He’s not a vindictive man.  He is simply, the customer.
And that’s what customers do.

So once more, the entire package was dis-assembled.
And once more there was no sign of the offending speck of ‘whatever-it-was’.
By this time I was convinced that this was not just Friday the 13th, but this was a decade’s worth of Fridays’ the 13th, all rolled into today.
I was almost frightened to re-assemble it.
But I did.
And it looks fine to me.  I finished the frame – hangings, labels, wire, buffers etc.  And it still looks fine.
It’s ready for the client to collect.

But I am so nervous.
I will have dreams tonight of the frame falling to the floor, breaking the glass, denting the frame and being infested by flumbs like the locusts of biblical proportions.

I really do hope that tomorrow will be Saturday the 17th of November.
That everything will have returned to normal; and that the customer will be pleased with his picture.

Watch this space :roll: :-)

 Saturday 17th November  :lol: :lol:

I did wake once during the night, but immediately returned to sleep and can’t for the life of me remember what I dreamed about; if I dreamed at all.
My client has been to collect his watercolour and has expressed himself pleased with it.
My wife has asked for a small standing frame to be made for her brother for Christmas.
And I have done that, without a problem.

It would appear that life, as I know it (most of the time) has returned.
What a relief !!
But I still shudder when I think of yesterday :oops: :-|