“I’ve been blessed with a good life. If I had to mention the one thing which has helped most, it’s been a sense of humor.”

– Gertrude Elliott Espenscheid


We often have collector clients bring artworks to our shop that they want to re-frame. Sometimes it’s an aesthetic decision; other times they are interested in using more archival materials for the protection of the artwork. Sometimes, as in the case of this framing project, it’s for both reasons.

A little over a year ago, a collector client brought in a watercolor by the late American illustrator [and Pratt alumna] Gertrude Elliott Espenscheid. The artwork had been handed down to the client from a family member, and the client wanted a frame that better complimented the art, as the current metal frame seemed cold and outdated. There was also a preservation issue, as the frame was beginning to rust, had a few gaps on the sides, and the client wasn’t sure how protective the current glazing on the frame was.

The client worked with designer Christine Heindl to create a frame that would best suit the work. The process for selecting design elements of the new frame — as well as the gilding and ornamental processes for the finish — are shown and outlined in the below and in the text of the slideshow gallery:

After the frame is milled and joined, Bark Frameworks gilder Mary Helen O’Brien begins the multi-step gilding process. A textile is used to create the texture in the middle part of the frame.

The Espenscheid watercolor was hinged using pendant hinges made from Japanese paper, and rice starch paste, which we make ourselves. Four-ply shims were also used. The watercolors is matted in a 12-ply Rising Warm White mat, custom cut by our mat-makers. The frame is glazed in OP3 acrylic, which filters out UV rays. The framing materials surrounding the art are all 100% archival.

Our client was thrilled to see the work in its new, gilded frame, which not only presents the artwork very well, but also protects it for generations to come.

Images and Text: Jennifer M. Clark