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Magical things happen behind the doors of the Hopewell Frame Shop located at 24 West Broad Street in historic downtown Hopewell Borough, as they have for the last 27 years. Visitors to the shop owned by Abby Frantz love to cross the porch and enter the old Victorian house because they know that it is a carefree, quirky place full of beauty. Whether you are hoping to have something framed or are there to browse the art gallery and perhaps select the perfect gift for a friend of discerning taste, you've come to right place.
Founding owner Abby Frantz learned framing at an area shop in the mid-1970s and soon realized that this was an art form that worked well for her. Abby also craved independence. "I wanted to be able to support myself and I found tremendous satisfaction from framing a piece just the right way. I can be creative, please myself, and please my customers--this was a good balance for me. When I found the Hopewell location quite by accident, it felt right, and after almost three decades, it still does." Frame show customers and the curious art browser alike find much to entertain their senses as they pass through the entrance foyer and make a quick left into the front room. It is here that Abby displays the works of the current visiting artist. It is here that these artists greet patrons during the customary open house reception and hope that their artwork which adorns the walls and tables resonates with those in attendance. Currently, the works of award-winning painter and illustrator Taylor Oughton fill the walls, soon to be replaced by the nature prints of renowned animal artist Beatrice Bork, whose show opens November 5th and runs through December 24th. Also in attendance are Abby's two English Springer Spaniels, Paris and Gracie, who are clearly art lovers at heart.
At the back of the shop, Abby can be found hard at work custom framing pieces of art that her customers have entrusted to her care. Noting that inclement weather is always great for business, Abby observes, "When people come in here, it's not because it's something they have to do, an obligation. It's for pleasure. This is a happy business." The shop offers countless samples and the customers' choices are endless: frames of wood, lacquer, gold leaf, veneer, inlay, marquetry, stained, painted, metal. Frames that are plain or ornate, have curved edges or sharp corners, or are constructed of Plexiglas boxes for three-dimensional display. For those who may have a hard time deciding just what to choose, Abby notes, "People really have more of an idea than they think. For example, they nearly always have some sense of color. I ask questions about where it will hang, the colors of the room, etc., and based on these answers, I can help eliminate 75% of the choices. Part of my job is to educate my customers and then let them decide what works best for them."
New technology adds an extra fun dimension to the process. In one of the back rooms, the whir of the Wizard computerized mat cutter is barely audible to customers browsing the shop's front rooms. This imposing machine gives framing customers access to the most innovative mat designs available. "My Wizard allows me access to over 100 standard templates and CutArt, which provides thousands of finished design combinations," says Abby, adding, "the possibilities for creativity are endless." Developed by Wizard International, Inc., the leading expert in picture framing technology, The Wizard is a computer-controlled cutting machine that contains a software library of over 100 different design templates. It also offers its users the ability to cut all true-type fonts and access an extensive clip art library. The machine cuts paper mats, suede, linen, black core, metallic, color core and many other textured matboard. "While increasing my efficiency, the Wizard allows me to offer my customers enhanced finished product quality," notes Abby. Indeed, no matter what the season or occasion, Ms. Frantz, with the help of the Wizard, can help the most finicky customers select just the right mat combination. Some of the many designs available include animals, the performing arts, school and patriotic themes, sports, wedding, deco designs and vacation images.
The shop also carries framed mirrors and a variety of photo frames. "I have some really neat exotic Byzantine frames from Italy," confides Abby, "They are perfect for small photos." Framing prices are determined by the size and type of moldings chosen, Abby notes. "An eight-inch by 10-ince piece could cost anywhere from $9.00 to $40.00. It can be single-matted, double-matted, triple-matted or not matted at all. Frames can range from $8.00 per square foot to $150.00 for a hand-made 24 karat gold hand-finished frame. While custom framing is not inexpensive, it certainly increases the value and beauty of any piece.
Contemplating the turns her professional like has taken, Abby states, "I believe that whatever you do in life, you should enjoy is immensely and then you will be very good at it. I find this work extremely satisfying." Customers who drop by the shop and gallery are likely to echo her satisfaction.
The Hopewell Frame Shop, located at 24 West Broad Street, Hopewell, New Jersey, hosts art shows and exhibitions throughout the year. Regular hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For questions about framing or for information on current and future events, please contact Abby Frantz at 609.466.0817 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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