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Framing Dad's Watch Keepsakes

Frame Shop In Westmont, IL

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Recently we had a very good client of ours come in with a real challenge. Neil has brought in some very interesting items over the years. Interesting and meaningful. After 42 years in the framing profession it is always fun to have a challenge put before us. The Framemakers have been in business since 1969 but our staff’s combined years in the framing profession is 97. Not bad for a staff of three! 
Neil’s father was a watchmaker and jeweler specializing in watch and jewelry repair. Neil had his father’s complete “Staking tool” set from the 1920’s. This in and of its self is quite remarkable. So often these small tools are misplaced and lost. It was a beautiful little set in the original wood box. Along with the “Staking tool” set there were some watches, miscellaneous watch parts, a couple of clock keys, folding ruler, business card, soft brush and of course a photo of dad. Neil was looking for a way to display these items. Like all of us we tend to put items like this in a drawer or box and never really enjoy having such family treasures. 
The small items were easy enough for us to frame using a shadow box or deep frame. We didn’t need much more than about 3/4 inch of depth because none of the items were very thick. We used a nice cream linen fabric to mount the items on. This afforded us the ability to sew many of the items into place. We prefer this to glues and tape whenever possible. The cream linen was also nice for a little bit of an aged look and also showed off all the items equally. These items would have looked out of place on bright white or any modern color. It was also a fairly easy decision to use a wood frame that was similar to the box that the tools were in. 
Neil also wanted a few brass plates made up so that future generations would know who these items belonged to and why they were important to keep. Again – many of us tend to not tell others what are important family items and what is something that isn’t so important. He also asked us about how could he keep the box open but not have dust settle between all the tools. We have two suppliers that we used for this project. Our associates in Wisconsin made the two brass plates exactly as requested. Our other associates in Elgin provided us a small acrylic top to place over the tools. The company in Elgin specializes in acrylic boxes and custom made the top exactly to our specifications and it came out perfect. 
The final piece to this puzzle was all Framemakers ingenuity. Neil didn’t want the box on a table and the framed items across the room hanging on the wall. He also wasn’t sure that he would always have a table where he could hang the framed items directly above the tool set. The solution was for The Framemakers to build a stand to keep everything together. 
Because of the frame with the glass and items in it had a little bit of weight to it we had to make sure that it would not just fall over. And when we put the acrylic top on we had to remove a small hinge on the side of the box. We of course asked Neil if this was alright and tucked the small hinge into the box so that it could easily be put back at any time. The downside in removing the hinge is that now the top of the box would fall all the way open. Our solution was to create a base that would not only counterweight the frame but also hold the box top in place. This also afforded us a place to put one of the brass plates describing the “Staking tool” set. Our final problem to overcome was that the tool set box had a brass handle on top. The Framemakers solution? Cut a small oval hole in our wood stand. The wood stand was now ready to be stained to match the frame and be similar to the wood box. We then drilled the stand to the back of the frame. Again, using screws and not using any glue to hold the frame to the stand meant that the frame could easily be taken off the stand without any damage if the customer ever wanted to change the display. 
In this project, as with everything we have framed for Neil, we used museum glass for exceptional clarity. Museum glass is based on the same technology as eyeglass lenses that lower glare and reflection. It is not non-glare which can never be used in a shadow box because of its foggy look. True Museum glass is also 99% effective against UV rays and fading. There is glass out there that looks like Museum but does not give that much protection against fading. 
Needless to say Neil was quite moved when he saw his dad’s items so beautifully displayed. It was easy to take apart for Neil to transport and set it back up at home. Just a matter of setting down the stand with frame attached, opening the box and sliding the two together. It is so incredible for us to be a part of helping someone’s vision be realized. And to know that something we built or framed will now be a treasured piece for years if not generations to come. It is also very gratifying that we have helped in preserving items that are a part of our collective heritage. I’m reasonably sure that is why framers are here yet. We are instrumental in saving parts of family history and in starting new pieces to be handed down.
Contact The Framemakers in Westmont, IL for all of your custom framing projects and questions. Call (630) 795-1020, fill out a website form below or visit our storefront 10 N Cass Ave, Westmont, IL 60559!
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