The tree roots have grown around the bottle. Tree, Red Mulberry.

"Red mulberry is used locally for fenceposts because the heartwood is relatively durable. Other uses of the wood include farm implements, cooperage, furniture, interior finish, and caskets."

(Martin, Alexander C., Herbert S. Zim, and Arnold L. Nelson. 1961. Mulberry family: Moraceae. In American wildlife and plants. p. 313-314. Dover Publications, New York.)

The tree in fall. Bottle is under the leaves, left side of trunk. Old phone photo.

Google mulberry wood for some images of the beautiful wood.


The tree today.



Edward Hopper, 1882-1967

Sun in an Empty Room
Private Collection

Edward Hopper, born today, July 22nd. 1882. The above, a late painting, showing to my eye, the "abstraction" he was not noted for. Often spoken of as a "realist", I find him to be both an abstract painter and a surrealist, and less concerned with a realistic vision than an emotional one.

“If you could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.” ― Edward Hopper

Originally posted 7-22-12



One of the neighborhood basswoods is close to flowering:

And on a blog note, I have turned off comments as I was tired of dealing with the spam. Comments, great thoughts, questions, email me.




OOPS ???

Unexplained mysterys, or maybe it's the "old math", done in a new way. I didn't catch this until the frame had been joined and splined, by my customer calling wanting the exact rabbett size. A gut wrenching moment, as we are on a deadline.

Once I've confirmed my idiocy, rather than rush into correcting, I've found it's better to walk away for a bit; let the nerves settle, and think about the proper procedure for correction.

And here, waiting for splines to be fit and glued in, and the proper size now.


D-Rings, or strap hangers


Some examples of D-Rings, or strap hangers. Far more secure than screw eyes. All of us who restore antique frames have seen damage from screw eyes failing. Screw holes should be drilled for the strongest installation. If wire is to be used, the hanger should optimally be angled in the direction the wire will go. On larger frames, two hangers matched to two wall hardware, is best. This requires some precision in measurement and installation. Securely wrapped wire loops can be attached to the D, allowing some adjustment to the wall screw or bolt. For really heavy objects, I usually make cleats, sometimes known as "French Cleats" from plywood. Two strips of ply with matching angles cut on the edge, attached to the frame and the wall so they can hook together.

Now, if you insist on screw eyes, at least wire them right.

1. Through the eye

2. Around the shank, and below the wire.

3. Back through the eye.

4. Wrap the wire around it self.

This makes the wire as low as possible, reducing the force against the one little screw. Physics. Also, as the route the wire follows is more complex, this makes the wire less likely to pull free.

There are commercially available other forms of frame hardware, some that include mechanisms for leveling.



Apparantly, mechanical competence is a hindrence to artistic genius, grumbles the old curmudgeon.



Bad Choices in Hanging Hardware, or "Hey, you artists, get offa my lawn".

Some examples from a recent exhibition I installed. 

Screw eyes are bad, made worse by wireing around the eye, so physics can have it's say, and leverage can pull that screw eye right out. Bending, then pull-out, followed by crashing. If one insists on using outmoded tech, at least run the wire through the eye, around the shank, then back out the eye, then wrapping.

Now the staples, well, they were actually solid, at least until the staples start to loosen as the wood ages and shrinks.

Personally, cup holders are never going to be a good choice. This particular frame is relatively heavy, and the cup holder is already bending from the strain. Soon, the fall.

Solutions, next post.


Now, gone with the wind.


Yesterdays poppies have been blown away by the winds, though it was a delightful day, cool dry and sunny. This morning the basswood bracks are littering the ground, victoms of the wind. I just discovered that basswood leaves are good as salad greens. Here, more on that.


And something else: Night Rabbits

I think i need my tripod, or monopod.





The basswoods have leafed out, bracks, and the flowers to be, showing. And now, for something a little different:


The above was taken just at the end of civil twilight, lighted by a sodium vapor street light. I have my little camera set to use 1600 ISO if needs be. The high ISO has brightened the sky. The leaves to the right of the building are actually shadows, from the leaves near the center. I am quite impressed by the quality and capabilities of newer digital cameras, and though this is a relatively high end machine, it is still pocketable. Canon S110.

And, I like the picture; might be a fondness for yellow ochre?



Fret sawn ornaments

A design under the influence of the Middle East. "Scherezade". The ornament is a simple organic ribbon, repeating in and out. I use a fret saw to cut the basic shape, which is then glued to the frame, and carved.

The fret saw and an ornament block. I like spiral blades for this work, though I find they cut better with a straight approach, as though they were regular blades. Spiral blades, are in theory, omnidirectional. The saw is mounted on a small sheet of plywood, which is then clamped to the bench. When I can, my tools are hooked to dust collection, in this case to my shop vac.

The block is taped on both sides and then it is "bread sliced" into the thin ornaments. The tape is to hold the thin design together.


The corners being wasted for the ornaments. The cyanacrylate glue is for the sometimes "holiday" in the regular gluing, with hide glue.


Here, marking lines for the carving edges. I use my finger as a fence to draw the lines. And here, a finished version: Frame Notes: Fret Sawed Ornaments



Some more process photos.


Applying bole. Bole is a very fine clay, in various earth colors, that when mixed with hide glue becomes the base layer and adhesive for water gilt gold. The color above is a mix, to match the color on the original frame.


Water gilding. The surface is wet with the "gilding liquer", water and some alcohol to break the surface tension. The polished bole is wet thoroughly, and the gold leaf is applied by picking it up with the tip, that wide flat brush, and almost slapping it on to the wet surface. To make the tip grab the leaf, I rub a tiny amount of vaseline on the back of my left hand, then lightly brush the end of the tip over my hand before grabbing the edge of the leaf with the tip. Sounds simple enough.

When the gilt areas are dry, they are burnished using an agate tool. To test for dryness, the surface is tapped with the agate; when a hard click is heard, the surface is dry. Trying to burnish wet just destroys the leaf. Two different shaped burnishers on the bench.

Burnished gilding and stained wood, with the color sample to match to. Waiting for the finish coat.



An unusual frame.

Actually, not that unusual , though this style, where the corner escutcheon is carved is unusual. I did quite a few of these early in my career, in mahogany and black walnut, though stopped pushing them as the labor intensity tended to make it hard to make a profit. I'm doing a reproduction of a damaged existing frame, with carved, water gilt and burnished corner escutcheons, over stained and finished basswood. Basswood, though usually gessoed, then finished, actually is an attractive wood in itself. MOMA, NYC, has a few examples of stained and finished basswood frames.
Photo above, I'm using an oscillating saw to rough out the shape for the corners.
A corner before gessoing. After roughing out, small carvers rasps were used to refine the shapes.

Another photo before gessoing.

The corners masked off, and the first few coats of gesso applied. Normally I spray gesso, but in this case, all of the coats will be brushed. The first coat was scrubbed in with a toothbrush until almost dry, to eliminate pinholes.

Scenes from NYC, and beyond.


Manhattan receding aboard the Staten Island Ferry. If it's warm enough, outside as the Ferry crosses the harbor is the fun spot to be. Some of the ferries have outside decks; some require you to stand on the back deck, above the props, if you would like to be outside. My wife and I both enjoy being out in the sights, smells, and breezes.

The Falcon God is not happy, not happy, Bob. As my Jewish relatives say, "what a Punim". From the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


And, two more "roadside" snaps. It may be part of my whole approach to photography, and art; learn the foundation, the basics, then feel free to wing it. I spent a lot of time with an unmetered camera, no light meter, just guesstimating exposure. It's far easier to do that today with a digital camera, but then as now, a multitude of sins could be fixed in post processing. The roadside snaps are done from a moving vehicle, night, obviously, along one of the interstates here in the US. The camera is set to manual focus, infinity, program, at 3200 ISO, with image stabilization on. I have the camera on, and as we approach an interchange, I put the camera against the side glass, with my hand as a light scrim, blocking reflections from the dash lights; then just press and hold the shutter release, letting the camera take a number of shots. The quality of the light against the trees is what intrigues me. I have some other kind of images, related, though not the same, that I want to do. All involve the very edge of the cameras ability to record, and again, the light at this point is very interesting. I've even made some prints from some of these.