With the hundreds, if not thousands, of mouldings available on the market, there is surely a style to suit most framing customers' tastes and requirements. But what about the customer who wants something a bit more tailored? Perhaps he likes the wood grain on one sample, the color on a second sample and the ornamentation on yet a third. Or he might want a custom-mixed color or the subtle variances of a hand-applied finish, in cases like these, custom-made specialty frames may be just what the frame shop should order.
Among the many chop services and moulding manufacturers in the market, there are a few companies that supply custom-ordered, finished-corner specialty frames to the retail framing market. Customers can work with their framers to choose each characteristic of the frame, from the type of wood, to the color and finish, to the ornamentation, to the size. Once the order is placed, the frame is created at the supplier's studio and then shipped to the frame shop joined, finished and ready to go.
Because specialty frames are individually created and hand-finished, each frame can require hours of work and involve the talents of several artisans. As a result, specialty frames generally have higher prices per foot ($40 and up) than standard mouldings. But in return, customers receive frames that are truly one-of-a-kind: No one finish is exactly like the next. That selling point can make specialty frames a distinctive addition to any framer's sample wall.
From Retail to Wholesale
Many specialty frame suppliers began as retail framing operations. In most cases, they are custom framers and gallery owners who were looking for something in the market that didn't yet exist, so they set about to make it themselves.
For example, Animaux, a supplier of specialty frames, is a division of Ross Wetzel Studios, a retail framing operation in Wilmette, Ill. The company got its start when owner Sue Weeks couldn't find mouldings made of bird's eye maple that met her standards, explained company representative Peggy Flanagan.
"She purchased …