The art of framing art

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Normally, it’s the heart of the piece that makes artwork stand out, but veteran framer Leslie Curran thinks the outside matters just as much.


She said a distinct frame can make an art piece feel like they belong together.


“You can’t ascribe a simple frame to everything,” Curran said. “The frame has to feel like it’s a part of the piece. You have to get that with the right frame.”


Curran and her husband, Jess Ojala, moved here in June from northern Idaho and opened Artistic Framing Market on U.S. Highway 101 in early July. She said they wanted to try something different. She’s been framing in Idaho since 1986, but the change in scenery doesn’t mean she loves framing any less.


“I’ve framed a million pictures,” Curran said. “I love it ... You just do it. I do a lot of methods that people don’t do. I think outside the box.”


Curran’s market is a ready-made frame warehouse with two parts. The showroom displays what customers can order to be built, along with examples of framed prints and other decor. In the warehouse the couple make frames, cut mats and store hundreds of frames in various sizes up to 36 inches by 48 inches.


“We can frame almost anything,” Curran said.


Some items she’s framed include memorabilia, an old musket, sports shirts, military medals and needlework in different frames like shadowboxes, mountings and collages.


Curran said she likes to add personal touches to her frames through hand- and machine-cutting different designs into matting, such as birds and trees. She includes found art sometimes, perhaps cutting space for a feather to include with a Native American art piece.


Other unique ways of framing include different materials, such as “invisible” glare-free glass, which doesn’t reflect in light. Prices for framing art vary from economy to deluxe for custom work.


“It’s really in the details,” Curran said.


Quotes are best in person because Curran can better capture the mood and feel of the piece.


“You have to see the piece,” she said. “You can’t give a quote until they bring it in. It’s a huge range for the cost ... When you think of money you waste, why not think of money going to something you treasure.”


Curran said she’s always looking to fit into a customer’s budget but she enjoys creating high-end frames as well.


“People come in with an idea and I try to honor that but sometimes they don’t know what might work best if you don’t show them,” she said.

Frame local

Curran’s love for frame making came when she framed her brother’s prints. She continued practicing, became attached to the hobby and eventually went into business with her mother. Curran has no formal training but continues to perfect the process.


After two months in Sequim, she’s found her artistic customers to be the opposite of those in Idaho.

Artists in Sequim have the mindset to shop local, but in Idaho they bought their frames online.


“People definitely believe in shopping local here,” she said. “I had a mechanic come in and get some pictures framed. I needed some car work done, so guess where I went.”


Curran feels there’s no substitute for working with an experienced person to choose frames because it can be a complex process.


The Artistic Framing Center also includes a wildlife gallery of prints by artists such as Bev Doolittle and Stephen Lyman, as well as wildlife photography. The market includes small, rustic home décor, wood tables made from wine barrels and inexpensive jewelry.


Curran takes the market to the Clallam County Fair, Aug. 18-21, as a vendor.


For more information, call the Artistic Framing Market, 261423 Highway 101, Sequim, at 681-7622. The website,, tentatively is scheduled for launch in the coming weeks.



Reach Matthew Nash at

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