If You Like It Then You Shoulda Put A Frame On It

First of all, I have to clear something up. That icky “she’s just 16 years old” song that I was singing yesterday? That is not, apparently, an Eddie Money song. It’s some one-hit wonder dude named Benny Mardones. Look at me, besmirching Eddie Money’s name like that. I take it back, Eddie!

Ok, now that I have cleansed myself of soiling the good name of a man who only wants us to have Two Tickets to Paradise, I can move on.

Last night, I spent two hours in my car. I know there are many who commute this every day but most of my car rides are 10 minutes or less, or else I am riding the bus or walking or what have you. So after two hours in my car last night, I wanted to cut someone, for real.

First of all, I had to go to this art store to get something framed. Can someone please explain to me why getting something framed is so bleeding expensive? I am willing to be schooled on this. In fact, I really want to be schooled on it, because I need it to make some sense to me. Four pieces of wood around a picture plus a clear covering over the top and this is many many dollars? Really? So far in my life I have actually avoided ever getting anything framed, because Nordic Boy usually will just get the glass cut at the hardward store hisself and make a frame easy peasy for me. But lately he is super busy what with re-plumbing our laundry room and hightailing it to Portland every week so I thought I would go ahead and just go to a frame store. I did my homework by asking around and looking on Yelp! and so forth, so I am confident I did not go to a place that was outrageous (and although it was not exactly near my house-hence part 1 of the Driving Extravaganza- I went to a place that was highly recommended everywhere I looked just in the hopes that I would not be punctured with a new a-hole along with my frame job). But still. Three prints of less than one-square-foot each and it cost me one whole Benjamin. A WHOLE BENJAMIN. A Benjamin and a Jackson, actually. Plus they told me it was going to take them until after Thanksgiving to have it ready. What the WHAT??? Is there some sort of framing craftsmanship that I don’t understand? Because I just can’t accept this. Well, I can’t accept it in theory, because I forked the money over. Which made me feel like a royal chump. With crown and scepter.


At any rate, I got back in my car and started the drive back to my neighborhood to go to the grocery store to get some dinner. While in the car, Nordic Boy called from Portlandia and me being the hands-free cell-phone user that I am, talked to him on speaker while my phone sat snugly on my lap. Then I forgot all about it being there, and when I got to the grocery store I got out of the car and heard a sickening thud. OH MY DEAR IPHONE I HAVE GONE AND KILLED YOU.

Normally, I might have waited to fix my phone, but the thing is, when Nordic Boy is in Portland he calls me, like, a lot. A lot a lot. And if he can’t get a hold of me, he pretty much thinks I am dead. The reason for this is not because he is maudlin, but because I have drilled into him after many years together that one of us could die at any moment, especially when we are apart. It’s a cheery thing to be around, I assure you, and I know you are so jealous of Nordic Boy right now to have landed a catch such as yours truly. So after the grocery store I drove my phone to the Apple Store (drive drive drive) as if I was on fire and because everyone else in Seattle lives at the Apple Store too they told me that they could not fit me in to see a Genius (and can I just ask you what kind of an establishment is that that deems themselves, individually and collectively, GENIUS? Who are they, Wile E. Coyote or something?) that night. It was then about 7pm, and to think that Nordic Boy would be trying to call me from 7pm until the next day? Not acceptable. So I might have prostrated myself at the feet of the goddamn Geniuses and begged them to help me. Just a little. And they did. So ok, they can be Geniuses, fine.

Then I had to drive to the dry cleaners to pick something up, and then had to go to the co-op. And then my butt grew right into my car seat and I became a Transformer and rampaged through my fair city. BLAH.

In non-grumpy news, my friend Hopscotch is having a baby boy who we have fortunately/unfortunately started to call TimJim. Also, my friend Maddie wrote for The Colbert Report a couple of days ago, which made Nordic Boy and I act as though we had something to do with it, which, you know, we totally did, if by that you mean that we watched and squealed and clapped at the screen and looked at each other with smug faces.

This post is so grand, I think you should frame it.


  1. I think the framing price is a combination of supply, demand, and them knowing they can get away with it. How often do you actually need something framed? Their pricing has to take into account the fact that people aren't rushing to them with hundreds of framing jobs each day, so they've got to charge something that will allow them to pay the rent and keep the lights on until their next paying job comes in. (I just made that up, and fully expect someone better-versed in the industry to come along and school me, but the important thing was that it sounded correct.)

  2. Framing costs a lot simply because somebody there knows how to wield the mat cutter and a miter box. They natter on about archival quality mats and glare-resistant glass, but it's totally a racket. That said, I don't want to invest in the equipment or supplies for DIY jobs, so I have a huge stockpile of stuff I'm getting framed as funds allow (not often). Micheal's does a decent job and often has specials up to 50% off, if you keep your eyes out.

  3. A few thoughts on this: I hear that museum-quality glass is more expensive. Maybe unnecessary, but probably used in a lot of frame shops. If piece to be framed is an odd size, there's custom work involved. Simple, maybe, but not something that most people are able to do at home, b/c of lack of tools or fear of using tools or whatever so maybe that contributes to the racket. Then there's the whole archival materials thing and/or wood with a billion coats of nice paint/stain so that it will "last a lifetime." Have you ever bought a frame at the big Swedish store? I did once since I needed a standard size, but the thing was a big piece of caca – poor quality materials, pressed board (stained looking), very breakable glass, and definitely not archival. In restrospect, I would have rather paid a lot more for something that wasn't shitty. Last but not least, there are lots of people out there who lack confidence when picking out mat/frame styles and colors, so you're paying for the aesthetic advice of the framer, whether you want to or not. That, plus the stuff that the other posters have said would be my guess.

  4. I just had to use my library powers to find out what a benjamin and jackson actually totalled there, but now I know, sheesh! And iphone death – eeep! Going on from the last post surely a song ditty would come in handy right about now – "oh what a night…" 🙂

  5. coming out of the woodwork to swoop in and help a sister out. long time reader, first time shrill commenter. i am a professional picture framer (with an art degree! and working on a masters in library sciences! pretty much useless squared until this very moment!) and let me let you in on a little secret. we know how… you don't. we have the tools… you don't. plus! tons of those frames are made in italy, or gilded by hand, or made of precious baby skin. oh, that and when you try to do it and fuck it up, you're not only making it looks shitty, but probably ruining the thing you liked enough to frame in the first place. so here's what you should do:1. find an empty frame you like that is proportionate to your piece (flea market, parent's attic, garbage bin behind frame shop… for reals)2. have those racketeers inside said frame shop cut you a custom mat and glass. probably you should have them put it all together too.2a. seriously, the least important thing you should think about is the frame. it's purely aesthetic(not that there's anything wrong with that). get some uv glass, acid free tape (you only need a couple pieces at the top to keep it in place. DO NOT tape around the whole dang thing)and an acid free mat and backing. it's worth it. framing is about protection, fuck the looks of it.that biz will get you a cheap deal and the best preservation possible. i have been framing since i was 21 (4 whole years!) and that's how i do everything. also. please don't go to Michael's or Aaron Brother's. they're cheap but they don't give a fuck. plus! i have seen them both use duct tape to attach art to a mat. not effing kosher. support your local framer. i mean, wouldn't you rather hang out with me for an hour than some blank faced little shit who doesn't know the difference between mohogany and ebonized walnut? just sayin.dang, i should start a picture framing blog or something. just kidding. this was exhausting.

  6. I used to frame stuff for a Ben Franklin store in Ohio 2 million years ago, but even then it was way too expensive.http://www.u-frame-it.com/I recommend this place in Ballard (don't worry; other locations) where I frame the item myself, but they let me use all their fancy tools and they help me whenever I can't figure out what to do, yet it still looks professional & uses archival materials. Way cheaper & I leave with the framed item that same day (with a bonus feeling of accomplishment). Plus they offer a 20% discount via their website coupon. ~k8

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