NEC and Frames

Published on 30th July 2016

A few weeks ago we attended the Stitch and Creative Crafts Show at the NEC in Birmingham.  We had an amazing three days. The show was very busy and although I'd intended to get lots of photos I never got chance as we were so busy. 

We were so pleased to meet everyone who came to visit the stand and spoke to hundreds of people over the three days.  We set up a frame with a practise piece and invited visitors to have a go. Lots of them did and it was interesting to see how they all managed.  A HUGE thank you to Maggie, Carol-Anne, Colleen, and Michiko who came along to help, you were brilliant.  BIG thanks as well to all of you who came along and spoke to us. Everyone was so interested in our work, it was wonderful to meet you all, perhaps we'll see some of you in class in the future!

Just before we went to Birmingham I took delivery of two new frames from our new maker.  I'd been talking to a colleague in my new job (not so new now, it's a little over six months, how did that happen) who also has an interest in all things textile related being a weaver.  In the course of conversation I discovered that her husband is a bowyer, so asked if he might know someone who would be able to make us some good quality hardwood frames. The message came back from her husband that he'd be happy to have a go.  I took one of my empty frames into work so she could take it home for him to check it out. A very short while later a beautiful beech frame came back for me to 'test'.

It was lovely, smooth as can be and very strong.  A few days later I got another section of frame to check as apparently Ian hadn't been happy with the finish on the original.  Now I thought the finish was lovely but even I could tell this section was even smoother.  I took some photos and delivered them and the frame back to work with a, brilliant more please message.  We had a few more conversations about the stretcher bars and in the end decided to go with bars which have the holes rather than ones where we have to use chopsticks.

What seemed like about a week later the first of the beech frames was ready and I got a message to say Ian had made some extra fittings as he didn't feel the nails we use for the tension and pot-rivets in the stretcher bars did justice to our work. He wanted to make a frame that was worthy of the work that they are used to create. Plus, being a perfectionist I'm reliably informed that the idea of us using nails for the tension offended his artistic eye :-)

So the first beech frame arrived in its own bag, finished with some handwoven braid, complete with little fittings with matching wooden tops for stretcher and roller bars. Sensibly there were some spares.

The next question was what kind of hardwoods would we like frames in. What a question! Of I went to look on some woodworking sites to see what there was.  I liked the look of paduk. Ian said often there is 'artistic licence' used for the colours of the exotic woods or that they are dyed to enhance the colour. However he did say it was very pretty so I choose that.

And here it is, we used it at the NEC for the demonstration piece and it worked without any problems. It is difficult to capture the colour of this wood but it's beautiful. The finish is gloriously smooth and I love it.  I don't care that it's not the colour that was shown on the web and, of course, I got my little fittings as well. These just make it that little bit more special, it's nice to know it has been made by someone who cares as much about our work as he does his own. 

In one of our conversations I'd mentioned purple heart as an exotic wood that I was sure people would like. Amazingly this didn't make Ian run screaming for the trees but sent him out to a local supplier where he found a decent sized plank/log of purple heart and two frames are being made as I write. Unsurprisingly they are already spoken for. 

Ian makes all the frames by hand and does do the most wonderful job. He is so keen to understand what it is and what we need from them that he and Tracey came along to our last day class to meet everyone, to see frames in action and to ask lots of questions. He also brought a section of a frame in wenge that has been made for one of the other tutors, it's FAB.

The frames aren't cheap, a beech frame will be £220.00, my paduk one cost £250.00 and is worth every penny.  If anyone is interested in talking to Ian about a frame let me know and I'll put you in touch.  I don't get any commission, I'm just happy that people have got a source of beautifully made frames. 

All I have to do now is get Young Samurai completed and off the frame so I can start the next project on my lovely new frame. I wonder what that will be?





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