Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Framed For A Crime . . . of Passion!


Sometimes I wish that my blog was more helpful. You know, that I came up with suggestions on how people could improve their lives or directed readers to eBay auctions for ultra-hip items they never knew they wanted. You look at the hardships being suffered in places like Pakistan (that’s the one with all the “unrest” right now, right?) and then you look at yourself in the mirror in the bathroom and it’s like, “How can I help?”

So today I’ve decided to infuse my blog post with a lesson. And the lesson is this: “If you’ve ever thought about taking a poster to a frame shop to get framed, don’t take a poster to a frame shop to get framed.”

Everyone here should know how this started. One year ago, in one of the most romantic gestures in history, I stole Brooke’s Marc Chagall poster from her old apartment. I intended on surprising her by having it framed and hung in her new apartment, except instead I accidentally left it on the subway on my way home. Oops. Sorry. I guess I was distracted by the huge, beating heart on my sleeve.

Anyway, Brooke wrote this post about it. My mom, ever the peacemaker, read the post, and the following week I received a package in the mail from Art.com. Some people may call this “meddling,” whereas I just call it “free stuff.” One of the few rules I strictly follow in life is to never refuse anything that’s free. Some people may stand up for things like honor and dignity. For example, if someone punched you in the face and then offered you $100 in compensation, some people would say, “I don’t want your blood money!” I would take the money, and then when he wasn’t looking I would throw a garbage can at him.

Now, of course, it falls to me to follow through on my original loving intentions and have this poster framed. On Saturday, Brooke and I walk to the frame store around the corner. In protest of the increasingly cold weather, this is one of the few trips outside I will allow myself. I try to explain to Brooke how this heightens the romance, but she isn’t buying it. We arrive at the store and it seems run down in every way. Cluttered, dusty, unorganized. I think, “It must be hard to run a business of framing things . . .”

We browse the various frame styles. I prefer something gold and ornate; Brooke likes her frames like she likes her men: black and simple. We spread the poster out on the table and immediately the owner of the shop begins speaking to us in a tone of voice that was equal parts creepy and condescending, as though he were a ghost who didn’t put much stock in our knowledge of frames. (At one point, mid-sentence, he glances down at the print and mumbles, “God, he loved his wife.” I’m not sure if he’s talking about Chagall or himself, remembering a happier time before he murdered his wife.)

We start with the gold frame. I’m liking the way it looks, and Brooke is coming around. We express our approval and ask for a price. He starts tallying things on a computer. This is the first sign that something might be wrong. He is muttering words like “backing” and “mounting” and “per square foot.” Suddenly, he looks up from his computer and says, “You’re looking at about $267.00.” I try to seem unastonished, like I am a man of the world who has had many things framed and understands the high price of the craft. Brooke vocalizes our shock before I can: “Let’s look at something cheaper.”

So he prices out the simple, black frame that Brooke choose and, after doing his calculations, says, “Here you’re looking at about $155.00.” (Just so everyone is clear, that’s a $25 poster and a $155 frame.) I wanted to scream at him, “IT’S A BLACK FRAME. HAVEN’T YOU EVER BEEN TO IKEA? THEY MAKE BLACK FRAMES LIKE COWS TAKE SHITS.” But again, Brooke took the reigns: “We’ll think about it.”

Once we got outside though it was Brooke who went on the offensive. “$250? That seems really expensive for a frame for a $20 poster. Plus that guy was creepy. He had crazy eyes. We’re not going back there.” Exhausted from all the drama, we decided to regroup and try again on Sunday.

The next day, we call a few stores and end up with one a few blocks down from us, one of the few in the neighborhood open on a Sunday. In yet another act of loving sacrifice, I stop watching football to go to the frame store. When we get there, the woman who owns it tells us that it would be at least a half an hour until she could help us. She offers to buy us a cup of coffee in the meantime. It is slowly becoming clear that framers make more money than I thought.

We decide to leave and come back later. On the way home, Brooke, who was clearly in House Modification Mode at this point, asked me if we could go to the hardware store to buy the second coat of paint for the bedroom.

“You were serious about that?”
“Of course I was. It needs a second coat.”
“I thought that was just one of those things we said at the time when we were really into painting.”
“No, it’s one of those things that we said because it’s true.”

Regardless, I was already missing football to frame this poster that, maybe you forgot, I stole in one of the most romantic gestures of all time. (Maybe my second lesson from this post would be: “Execution of romantic gestures is as important as planning them.” Or maybe: “Screw romance, give good head.”)

We go back half an hour later. Before walking in Brooke reminds me that we aren’t going for any fancy gold stuff – just a basic black frame. We walk in the store and I spread the poster out on the counter. The girl asks, “So what were you thinking for this,” and without thinking I respond, “Maybe something gold and ornate?” Brooke turns to me with a look of anger and disappointment. The girl pulls a few frame samples to show us, and I choose one. Brooke interrupts our artistic musings and says, “OK, how much does that one cost?” The girl plunks some numbers into her computer just as the other guy did, only this time we hear new, more expensive sounding things like “UV glass” and “sealant.” She looks up from her computer and says, “That would be $620.40.”

Brooke: “Did you say $62.40?”
Girl, who has look of fear on her face in answering Brooke: “$624.40.”
Brooke: “Thanks. We’ll think about it.”

We get outside and Brooke explodes. “That bitch! How dare she suggest that we buy a $600 frame for a $15 poster!” (The longer Brooke argues, the cheaper the poster gets. I imagine a few more trips like this and she will be complaining, “How could they! For a poster that only cost $2!”) We head home and Brooke fixes a drink to calm herself. Ah, white middle-class problems . . .

So that’s where we stand, wounded but not defeated. I think, for the rest of her life, Brooke will have a nervous tick when someone mentions the words “UV glass.” (“Who puts UV glass on a $10 poster!?”) But on the bright side, this romantic gesture of mine has brought us together, united us in a battle against the framers of the world, who clearly are the monsters of big business, hiding out in small framing shops across America, making billions off of four pieces of wood and some glass.

Where we go from here, I don’t know. Although someone suggested we try a premade frame from K-Mart, which sounds great right about now. Who needs hand crafted frames when I can get frames made of real wood, hand chopped by some of the strongest children South America has to offer? That way, when lying in bed at night, looking up at the poster, I’ll know that not only am I a hopeless romantic, but also I can rid myself of the feeling that I haven’t done may part, because at least I know I helped.

“That kid has a job,” I’ll muse, “because of me.”


Blogger Mo said...

The last time I left a frame store I felt violated. $200 for a frame for a fake Monet print. It was the first time I felt really snobby and really stupid all at the same time.

November 13, 2007 at 4:24:00 PM EST  
Blogger [mother] said...

Brooke and Dan - I'll frame it for you as a Christmas gift. Only, I'll pick the frame. I have good taste. It will look great.

By the way, he has "a job because of you"? Please,spare me.

November 13, 2007 at 4:44:00 PM EST  
Blogger Dan said...

Thanks for the offer, mom. But this is a battle Brooke and I need to fight ourselves. Plus, you didn't buy me socks last year. So I haven't gotten new socks in two years. I need socks.

November 13, 2007 at 4:54:00 PM EST  
Blogger Poodle said...

no good deed goes unpunished

November 13, 2007 at 5:04:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Darling, I had to shoot down the mean frame lady before you paid $627 to ensure that you were home in time for kickoff.

November 13, 2007 at 5:09:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Mere said...

Try pictureframes.com. Depending upon the size it might be cheaper, you just have to put the hangers on yourself (I did 6 smaller frames like this and then all turned out great).

November 13, 2007 at 5:29:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Matt said...

I had this same problem, as I'm sure many have and was so angry with the condescending frame shop owner that I decided to pull the following con:

I was asked to pay $240.00 to frame a $20 poster. I walked out. I then had a friend go in with the exact same size (but different image) poster and order that frame for it that I'd wanted. He paid a $50 deposit and then when he went to pick it up said he could no longer afford it. Then I went to the store a week later and found it in the "already made frames" section and bought it for $100! So i scammed the store out of $90 and I scammed my friend out of $50!

I don't condone this sort of behavior except when buying frames which simply can't be that expensive. I'm sure there's some sort of anti-trust thing going on here and I intend to call the DOJ just as soon as I get motivated.

November 13, 2007 at 6:01:00 PM EST  
Blogger Adeline said...

Matt = genius.

Well done, fellow [redacted] fan. Well done!

November 13, 2007 at 6:15:00 PM EST  
Blogger Manda said...

Oh Goodness. I know your pain. I ended up settling on a frame (from Target $21.99) too big for one of my prints because it was an odd size but only cost me around $27 and could not see paying $200+ for a frame & matting. Ah well, a good deal will come along eventually...right?

November 13, 2007 at 6:53:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Kelly said...

[Mother] your great.

Why is framing so expensive? If you price it out on art.com for the least expensive frame it is still $115.(yes i relly did it because i couldnt' believe how expensive it was) does framing have a high labor cost? I am confused. if i knew there was so much money in framing i would do that instead of the whole teach the children they are our future thing.

November 13, 2007 at 6:53:00 PM EST  
Blogger Mr President said...

Long time reader, first time commenter. I've always wanted to say that. Not sure why. Possibly because I'm a sad pathetic shell of a man with no semblance of a life.

That bit about the price of the poster falling as time went on had me in tears. Of laughter, just to clarify. I'd always thought that was something peculiar to the women I know but it seems it's not.

November 13, 2007 at 7:21:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's all rather ridiculous, isn't it? I say go with "plaque mounting." It's where they mount your poster onto wood and seal it with a UV protectant/wipe-able laminate coating... My poster was only $50 (Cdn)...

November 13, 2007 at 7:42:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had this exact same problem happen to me the other week, but it was different. My picture was an old movie ad I'd pulled out of a Life Magazine from the 60s, and the little wizened man in my dusty frame shop mumbled "Square feet," typed into his calculator, and then said what I could have sworn was "$24." That seemed a little steep, but whatever. Then he hands me the receipt, and he's apparently mastered an accent that knocks twenty dollars off of prices because it's $44. Or I'm partially deaf. Anyway, I spent the money. It was either buy a nice frame, or crack. Of course, I'll just end up selling the frame for more money to buy crack eventually, but right now my wall looks really nice.

November 13, 2007 at 8:30:00 PM EST  
Blogger Jenny said...

Yes! Why is framing so expensive?

I know it's more work, but something I've done in the past is to buy a reasonably priced frame from Ikea, then order a mat cut to make it work with your print.

Do you have such things as Michaels or other cheap-ass craft stores in NYC? Places like that have better prices mats than a frame shop.

(also, hi! my first comment, too! :) )

November 13, 2007 at 10:19:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My boyfriend and I had a similar experience. He bought me a Lichtenstein for my birthday, and we searched everywhere for a frame. We ended up finding a framed picture (on clearance!) at a home goods store, took out the poster and put mine in it. I think it ended up costing us around $50 for both the poster and the frame.

November 13, 2007 at 10:49:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Lara said...

My mom owns a frame store. And it is expensive to frame things, although I couldn't tell you why either. (And I'm not questioning it either, because growing up I had a roof over my head because of people like you. Thanks, by the way!) I can tell you that prices are arbitrary because my mom will charge extra for customers who are difficult or rude or take a long time. You could always try and haggle for a lower prices, just to make it that much more interesting.

Anyway yeah, I would go with the plaque-mounting deal, or something similar. I spray-mounted all my posters on poster board, had them covered with a protective sealant and framed with a basic metal frame. Not the fanciest job but c'mon, they're posters, who am I trying to fool.

Too bad you don't live in the Detroit area, because my ma also gives arbitrary discounts to family, friends & bloggers.

November 14, 2007 at 9:41:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anna said...

I saw the Michael's comment above, and they're not much better, I'm telling you. Especially when they're having these sales and you think you're getting a deal, but by the time you add up all the extra mumbo-jumbo it's hundreds of dollars. As a result I also have an art.com tube sitting in a closet. Argh!

November 14, 2007 at 10:54:00 AM EST  
Anonymous dana said...

You're hysterical! I once got raped on a similar framing job. I loved that stupid print. Then I got drunk, danced on the table and when a wild arm sent the print crashing to the ground, the "protective" glass gouged the dry mounted print. It sucked.

Now I do my own framing, and it's good enough.

November 14, 2007 at 1:15:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, seriously, frame it yourself. It is a $25 print!! Come on.

Then send the money you saved to the South American children who made the frame for you.

Problem solved.

November 14, 2007 at 3:11:00 PM EST  
Blogger Chris said...

I'd say it's time to take that poster for a subway ride.

November 14, 2007 at 7:53:00 PM EST  
Blogger A Margarita said...

I really don't get why frames are so expensive. Like you said, how hard it it to make four thin pieces of wood and glass stay together? It's a conspiracy! Much like a Williams & Sonoma. I'd stick with Ikea. or Kmart.

November 14, 2007 at 11:19:00 PM EST  
Blogger Christina said...

Amazingly my husband and I had a similar conversation, except he was actually trying to convince me that it was reasonable to pay $500 to frame a printout of a photo he took. $500! Seriously?!?

November 15, 2007 at 1:32:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Allegra said...

I work in the art world. Framing is a scam. Ask for the following and it should cost between 50-75:
-Dry mount the poster
-Glass (normal. Not UV or UV plexi)
-Nielsen frame (they're simple and come in many colors).
Take it to Sam Flax or some el cheapo place (I go to a Framer on Ave B between 13 & 14th).

PS I love your blog.

November 15, 2007 at 11:39:00 AM EST  
Blogger Ripe for Reading said...

Dan, first time commenter... This post is hilarious. Thanks for the laughs!

November 15, 2007 at 3:14:00 PM EST  
Blogger Katie said...

I too have had this problem, and I ended up buying a couple of 54Dean ReFrames: http://www.54dean.com/Product/reframe.html
Slick! They're a nice alternative to a traditional frame if you're cool with no glass. And at $30, they're a more economical choice.

You're welcome!

November 15, 2007 at 4:36:00 PM EST  
Blogger Katie said...

Depending on your ambition (and no worries, I'm not,) you guys could always go to some sort of workshop at the Learning Annex and figure out how to frame it yourself.
Save some money, have some laughs, everybody wins!

Except the kids in South America...

November 15, 2007 at 4:55:00 PM EST  
Blogger A Lil' Irish Lass said...

I love this post. I love your mother. And I love the way you're helping those poor, starving children in the Amazon.

November 15, 2007 at 5:56:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Cait said...

I love the mother comments. This makes my day.

I totally bought that print in a gold frame for my room for 35 dollars. It used to hang above the couch in my living room and people constantly thought that I was loaded for having it.

November 15, 2007 at 7:07:00 PM EST  
Blogger sylvie d said...

As an artist I ended up spending a fortune on frames! I know only paint on box canvas which don't require framing, you can also buy prints on these which could be an answer for fture purposes...
BTW I like your blog ;-)


November 16, 2007 at 7:50:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy blogoversary!

November 16, 2007 at 12:59:00 PM EST  
Blogger Mad William said...

Someone has to defend the framers and the art world.

allegra, I have doubts that your job is actually in the "art world" with a comment like yours.

Consider this:
This print is Brooke's fav. How long are you going to having it hanging? Possibly decades. Spread the cost over the life of the work. How much enjoyment do you get out of having the work hanging in your home?

If you use cheap material it will ruin the work, and it will look cheap. It will fade, get acid burn or a number of other things, and then you have to replace it, possibly the frame too.

Even inexpensive frame mouldings are about $7 to $10 per foot. A poster that is 20 x 24 inches will require 8 1/2 feet if you frame it right up tho the image. If you use matts you will need about 10 to 12 feet. Then you need glass, matting, backing, mounting, hangers and labor costs.

$200 to $400 is not out of line to frame even a $15 to $25 poster.

November 17, 2007 at 4:06:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No wonder they call you "Mad," William.

November 19, 2007 at 11:28:00 AM EST  
Blogger -J said...

Yeah, man. Frames are expensive as shit.

November 20, 2007 at 2:22:00 PM EST  

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