Welcome to our June Framer's Corner!
we will take a closer look at a meaningful shadowbox designed by our gallery manager and framer, Heather Taylor.
When customer, Jamie Belkowski, came in through our door, she had an odd request…to frame 1,000 origami peace cranes on 40 strands, each having 25 cranes. This was a huge undertaking for Heather, but she knew that in the end, this piece would be amazing.

Jamie explained that with each crane she folded, there is a prayer of luck, love and anything she could think for her son and future daughter-in-law, since this was to be their wedding gift.

A teal line runs through the piece from left to right. She goes on to explain that the left side of the line represents Hawaii (where her daughter-in-law is from) and the far right side of the line represents the East Coast (where Jamie’s family is from). Where the blue line is at the highest, this point represents Glacier and just a few cranes over and down to the left, is Missoula. Jamie’s son and daughter-in-law met in Montana, hence the reason for the highest point being in Montana. Upon closer inspection, you will see birds, waves, flowers, and other intricate details, including a white pearl at the bottom and a gem at the top of each strand.
When it came to designing the framing for this particular piece, Heather wanted to keep it as neutral as possible but still have a little fun with it to enhance the colors and designs in the cranes. Choosing a frame was the least difficult part, since the frame needed to be deep enough to make sure that it could hold the strands without the glass touching them. So a simple flat black shadowbox frame was chosen, and keeping in mind how big this particular piece was going to be, the frame also had to be wide enough so that it does not warp.

Choosing the mat color for the background was a little more difficult since there were so many colors to choose in the cranes from. Jamie and Heather agreed that blue was going to be the most neutral and pleasing to the eye, especially a blue fabric mat, because it is so much richer than a blue paper mat. After going through the Crescent and Nielsen Bainbridge fabric mats, none of those worked well with the cranes, so Heather had to pull out the Franks’ Fabrics fabric swatches. From their cotton Cascade collection, she found the fabric Teal Blue which went perfectly with the teal blue line going throughout the cranes, connecting the framing to the cranes. 


Now that the designing was done and we got all the materials in to the shop, Heather had to start putting the piece together. Heather spaced the cranes out evenly on the acid free foamcore (cut down to the frame size) so then she could get the exact measurements for the amount of space around the cranes once on the Teal Blue fabric mat. Starting with strand number 40 (far left) she began to sew the strands down, each with 4 stitches to make sure they do not move in the frame. To ensure the cranes were perfectly straight, Heather then sewed strand number 1 (far right) down to make sure that the measurements stayed the same on each side, eventually meeting in the middle. Heather was able to tweak each strand just a little to straighten them and to fill any loose gaps or spaces.
After sewing all 40 strands down and once the frame was built, the next step for Heather was to clean and put the whole piece together. Instead of using the same blue mat for the shadowbox walls, Heather used a plain black paper mat so then it blended in with the frame. Heather and Jamie also decided it was a good idea to use UV Acrylic instead of glass. The UV protection ensured the cranes and mat were protected from any chances of fading, and by using acrylic instead of glass, the piece would not weigh too much for the frame to handle, risking the chance of a corner splitting.

Once it was all put together, the end result was stunning. Each strand truly looked as though they were floating and the process to put the strands and framing together made the time all worthwhile to see the end result.

“It’s pieces like these that pull at the heartstrings and make putting it together even more special, even through the occasional frustration, like extra gaps. To see the customer’s face when you unveil it, makes it all the worthwhile, in particular this piece. I know that Jamie put so much time and effort into each crane, and for her to see it all together, framed beautifully, brought tears of joy to our eyes. .” – Heather

From what we hear, Jamie’s son and daughter-in-law absolutely love the final piece and have it hanging on their wall.
Keep an eye out for more Framer's Corners!