The gift store owner, Chad, is aware of my background as a former resident of Korea. He and his wife apparently have membership in some kind of international junk food subscription service. It’s kinda of eccentric and cool.
So they bring in to me, the other day, this box full of Korean junk food – the kind you’d see at any 7-11 in South Korea. There were these one snacks in that box that I remember buying quite regularly in the store in the first floor of my apartment building: 쌀떡볶이 [ssaltteokbokki]. It was quite amazing, to get a package of these in Craig, Alaska.
So I got them and ate them, and it made me nostalgic.
This tree is growing next to a big ol’ rock.
The store is beginning its move into the new location (across the shopping plaza, about 40 meters). I spent a lot of time carrying very heavy and awkward boxes of our stock of spare picture glass. I became tired.
Here is a miscellany of my recent work at the matting and framing shop, without much commentary. Included is a work of my own, a bit of throwaway art that I had crafted in a spare moment and given to my coworker Jan, and she insisted that I frame it.
This picture includes a huge project of 32 separate posters, mounted on mat board but not framed or matted. It took me 4 working days to complete this.
This job earned me a $20 cash tip from a pleased customer.
This was an ancient and damaged jigsaw puzzle bound on the back with duct tape. I tried to make it look nice.
From the above, one of these pictures for the City of Craig is more notable: the city celebrates its 100th birthday this year.
I last posted one of these “Frame shop journal” entries about 3 months ago.
Certainly it’s not the case that I haven’t been making frames. Perhaps I got so busy that I simply stopped consistently recording my work. The month of December probably saw me assembling on the order of 50-75 frames – I don’t know the exact number. This was the Christmas rush, combined with the community panic over the possibility that the Gift Shop (and therefore the framing and matting shop it includes) would be shutting down permanently.
But then with January 1st rolling around, the Gift Shop was rescued by new owners, Chad and Kristin. They are slowly implementing lots of changes to the business, but fully intend to retain the matting and framing aspect, and thus, for now, I continue with job security in my relatively low-stress, very part-time position.
As I said, I’ve stopped recording every single frame I’ve done. But setting aside the Christmas insanity, here are a bunch of shots of recent work, from January and the first half of February. In no particular order and with minimal commentary.
This last framing is much more significant to me personally than any other I’ve done. Can anyone guess why?
Maybe if I start posting more regularly, I’ll manage to include more examples of my work.
My coworker Jan, at the gift shop, likes to order various exotic herbal medicines and supplements, often from Asia. She ordered something from Korea not that long ago – I don’t know what it was (some kind of mushroom extract?). But when she got her product delivered, it included this note from the vendor.
Thank you so much for your purchase!!!!!
I hope you had a pleasant transaction as much as I enjoyed:-)
You are such a beautiful, gorgeous, perfect, incredible, fabulous,
fantastic, the one-of-a-kind, mind-boggling, and Excellent buyer!!!
Even though we are oceans apart, I feel it's my honour to have a
chance to get to know you through Amazon.com. That's why I love
having transactions on Amazon.com
I will try to meet your needs by providing better service and
I will pray for your lucky,if you leave a good feedback on Amazon.com.
I wish that you are in good health and fortune with your family.
Hope to deal with you again. Thank you.
Have a wonderful day!!! Have a great day!!!!
Many thanks and Kind regards,
This made me nostalgic for my Korean students’ inimitable English style. This could have been written by one of them, easily. So much hyperbole!!!! So many exclamation points!!!!!!!!!
This tree failed to express gratitude.
I went to Wayne and Donna’s (the gift shop owners) for an unconventional thanksgiving dinner of ribs and potatoes. They are in a stressful time – they are leaving for Seattle in the next few days, where Donna is scheduled for tumor-removing surgery. Which is something I can sympathize with.
Yesterday at work, I got an email notification announcing the delivery of a package to the store (as one does). The thing is, no package had been delivered, and one wasn’t delivered later that day, either. Actually, this isn’t uncommon – when UPS “delivers” a package to our store, they are actually delivering it to a third-party company that covers the last 30 miles from Ketchikan to the island, because UPS doesn’t actually deliver to the island. They let the floatplane company, Taquan Air, handle those last miles. All well and good.
What was disturbing (or interesting?) about the email announcement in this case was, rather, the fact that although the email was delivered at 10:16 AM, the package was allegedly delivered (past tense, was) at 3:42 PM. That means that somehow, the notification had arrived via email from the future! “Wow, if UPS has solved that one, they can’t be stopped,” I mused.
I don’t post these frame shop journals very often. There has been a slackening of demand for framing projects, but I still have done quite a few since my last entry in this series, two and a half months ago. I have been somewhat negligent in taking pictures of all these, however. Here are a few from the last 9 weeks, in no particular order.
This last frame is “kinda weird.” I had the framed picture (part of the store’s stock of prints and artworks) but a customer wanted the frame. Wanting to keep the customer happy, I cannibalized the frame from this picture. But now I had a picture, with matting and glass, but no frame. I decided to improvise a temporary frame using cardboard – this was because something was needed to hold the glass in place. If the work gets bought, the customer can order a nicer frame, or just take the artwork and leave the glass and matting.
Today I struggled with a poor-quality frame received from our increasingly-poor-quality supplier. The wooden slots cut at the supplier to place the wedges to hold the frame together were in several cases partly broken, or broke immediately upon attempting to connect things. The wood was too soft and the frame was too large to work with so few and such small slots.
I had to improvise, using metal fasteners and glue. I can’t say it was a super high-quality frame as an outcome. Anyway at least the outcome was better than the last time I tried to improvise a solution to a badly-wrought frame from our suppliers.
At the store today things were moving very, very slow. Wayne (the owner) came in and we stood around talking for almost 30 minutes. He said something memorable, which he attributed to an old logger he used to know down in Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. “Anybody can get old, but you have to be tough to stay old.”
Albert (an old Native American guy) came in at a different time and told some of his never-ending and entirely implausible stories about Sasquatches, the “Waterfall Mafia” (Waterfall is a major resort down the island a way), and the Murkoswki family’s criminal empire.
This is not really a frame shop journal – it’s just a thing that happened at work today.
We got this frame that we’d ordered, so I set to put it together. The company that provides us with the pre-cut frames, Larson-Juhl (incidentally owned by Berkshire Hathaway AKA bazillionaire Warren Buffet) always cuts these nice little slots into the corners of the wooden frames, which are a standardized size to receive these little plastic wedge thingies. You just pound them in, and everything is so precisely cut that the corner has a nice, neat, ideal join.
But this time, the wedge shapes were different than the standard. The standard plastic wedge thingies wouldn’t fit. And they hadn’t sent us any alternate wedge thingies to slip into the slots at the corners.
I was stymied. Then, being far too clever for my own good, I decided I could make my own. I carved them out of bits of scrap wood I had lying around. And in fact, they fit in very nicely, and did a good job.
In this picture, you can see a frame corner, with my custom wooden wedge thingy making the join, and a standard plastic wedge thingy standing nearby for comparison – it looks like a little brown plastic Star Wars TIE Fighter.
Unfortunately, this ended in disaster. As soon as I inserted the picture and glass, and began applying the special staples to hold everything in, the corner wood bits cracked. I tried to salvage my clever connectors with a bit of super glue, but the super glue seeped onto the front side of the frame and corroded the fine, smooth finish of the frame. Result: frame ruined, and 4 hours wasted, and we have to re-order the frame (hopefully this time they’ll either use the standard cut, or send us new, correctly-sized wedge thingies).
While Jan was cleaning a small corner of the store yesterday, I looked down and said, “Oh, look, a penny!”
There had been a penny lying on the floor there, under a merchandise display. I picked it up and looked at the penny. I was surprised.
“I think we need to clean the store more often,” I said to Jan.
“What do you mean?” She asked.
I showed her the penny. The mint date on the penny was “1925.”
“That penny’s been lying there for a long time, maybe.” We laughed about it.
I mean, the store’s building is at most 40 years old. I think younger than that, even. And the gift store has only occupied the space for about 10 years, I think. Maybe 12. So someone must have dropped the penny there more recently than 1925. It was just amusing to imagine it lying there for 96 years.
I took a very long time between posts. And I think I missed taking some pictures of frames I made. But here, just for completeness, is a disordered list of some things I did in the frame shop over the past month and half or so.
I took almost a month to post this, since the last one. There was a very slow period, when I wasn’t making many frames, in mid-June. But since then I’ve been making a lot of frames.
During the slow period, I did an “inventory” of our filing cabinet where we store vendor information and catalogs. As part of that, I made new labels for the chaotic folders.
Here are bunch of frames, in no particular order.
I had one new frame that was a bit bittersweet. A customer bought a picture on our wall, that I’d framed last November. She said, “But that frame is ugly, I want a different one.” So I had to take apart a frame I’d made last fall, and make a new one.
One time, we got in a frame from our supplier that was clearly a horrible mistake. We had to re-order it.
I also spent some time teaching myself how to cut curves in glass. It’s not easy, even though Arthur claims it’s easy – although I’ll observe that Arthur didn’t bother to demonstrate this for me. I did borrow his fancy diamond-tipped glass-cutting tool, which is better than the hand-held glass cutter at the store.
I haven’t posted one of these in quite a while. Actually the frame shop hasn’t been that busy, but I have done a few in the past month.
Mostly I’ve been working on a “vendor inventory list” – transferring knowledge in an old, somewhat broken-down filing cabinet into an excel spreadsheet.
Here are some frames. Some of these frames are being handmade here on Prince of Wales Island. That’s kind of cool.
This was a repair.
I like this bird.
A teacher was retiring.
The next five are locally-made frames.
The mat cutting in this one was the most challenging I’ve done, so far.
There were also three large frames that I forgot to take pictures of, because they got picked up right as I finished them. They were large frames for very nice, professional paintings, for the hotel that the Shaan-Seet (local Haida Tribe’s corporation) run.
Over the last two weeks I made some frames at the frame shop.
These anime or manga characters (including baby Yoda at the bottom) were drawn by a local resident’s teenage son, and he had them framed.
This fingerprint consists of biblical quotes.
This print is by Southeast Alaska’s most famous artist (possibly), Rie Muñoz of Juneau. This artwork was for sale in our store, hanging on the wall since the early 2000’s. I had actually considered it my favorite of all the Muñoz prints in the store, so I’m slightly sad to see it go – though I doubt I’d have bought it myself, at $190.
This is the frame that caused me so much grief last week. I broke the glass, and damaged the artwork (slightly). You can see the damage in the lower right – it’s a crease across the artist’s signature. I actually used an iron to try to work out the crease – but it’s still there. We gave a discount to the customer, who apparently said he appreciated our honesty with respect to the issue. I like the picture, though. It’s a bar in New Orleans, apparently where the famous poet Charles Bukowski used to hang out in the 50’s when he was in New Orleans. The painting is by a friend of the local resident here who had this frame made.
This frame is for my boss Jan. In fact, that man in the 1800’s-era photo is an ancestor of her husband, Richard’s.
This last one is a sale announcement for the month of May, made with “spare parts” lying around the frame shop and utilizing some “practice” mats I did. We’ve placed it in the front window of the store.
Over the last two weeks, I did a few picture frames at the gift shop.
If that last one looks familiar, well… I did the exact same image for another person, before. It’s the original 1922 Craig City townsite plan and survey. I guess there’s a nice, high-quality image available online, and people are getting poster-sized prints and having them framed. It’s the sort thing I could see doing myself. But I guess there’s no need, since others are doing it.
Beside making frames, I was also fairly busy at the gift shop working on making an “inventory of vendors.” It started out with realizing that the filing cabinet used to store vendor information was broken, so… I spent time repairing the filing cabinet first, so I could use it to organize the folders of the vendor information. I’m going to make a spreadsheet, I hope.
I only completed two frames for customers this week. I ended up busy with some other stuff.
I spent most of Wednesday helping the store’s owner, Wayne, repair the ancient and broken safe in the back office. That was pretty interesting. I learned a new skill.
We installed an electronic keypad opener for the safe to replace the old tumbler.
I’m going to keep the old, broken tumbler as a souvenir. Maybe install it on a hapless tree as a bit of conceptual art.
It was a slow week at the frame shop. I actually only made one frame for a paying customer – it was a repair job, at that, and not a new frame at all. The customer was very pleased, though, because in taking apart the frame, I found a bunch of “long lost” family baby pics stashed behind the picture shown and sealed into the frame.
Sometimes the frame shop is slow not due to lack of customers, but because we rely on our supplier to send us the pre-cut frames ready to assemble for orders we’ve requested, and sometimes those deliveries are slow – that’s life on an Alaskan island for you.
To use up some time during my frame shop hours, I focused on improving my mat-cutting skills. I got adventurous, and tried some circles (using a special, very finicky tool) and some “lines” in box shape around the cut area of the mat (I’m not sure what these lines are formally called, but they’re popular on high-end matting styles).
So I did a bunch of mat cuts and then dropped random objects – a company brochure, a cartoon cat I quickly sketched – into them to give them focus.
I didn’t complete that many frames this week. There weren’t that many orders.
This first one is quite cool, though. It’s a 16th century map of Bucarelli Bay, as mapped by the Spaniards exploring the region at that time.
This map shows all the names they gave to the islands, capes and inlets. Some of those names have stuck – e.g. San Juan Island, San Ignacio Island, Madre de Dios Island. Other names were later changed. The town of Craig was place on what the Spaniards named Cabo Suspiro (Cape of Sighs). I think Cabo Suspiro would be a much better name for the town, than Craig.
And here is a hobbled mule.
My duties at the gift shop are focused around my role as the “frame shop guy” – the gift shop is the only retail location on the island that does custom picture framing, and there is a fairly steady demand for this service. Wayne, the store’s owner (along with his wife Donna), was the guy who brought this service to the island when they opened the gift shop a bit over 20 years ago.
Working two days a week, there is enough to do in the frame shop that that is mostly what I do. I enjoy it, as it allows me to express my creative side a bit more than most other aspects of working in the store. I have decided to keep a picture journal of the frames I put together. The pictures below are from the last 2 weeks. I’ll maybe post this picture journal once a week or once every two weeks. The things being framed are quite diverse, from parents memorializing their kids’ drawings or paintings to fine art (often local native art) to photography to motivational posters.