Welcome to our March Framer’s Corner, where we are taking a look at a very special Valentine’s frame job created by Frame of Mind’s owner,
Amy Doty!
Amy knew she wanted to create something special to give her husband on Valentine’s Day. Being married to a framer means you get a lot of framed art, so when a framer does a frame job for a loved one, it has to be a step above a mat and frame on a beloved picture.

Being solid gen-Xers, both Amy and her husband have a strong nostalgia for the 80’s, and nothing said “I love you” more in the 80’s than a personalized mixtape.

Starting with this as the theme, Amy took the idea and rolled with it. What can you do with a mix tape in a frame? It doesn’t make sense to frame the tape if the person can’t listen to what’s on it, so it had to be removable, and the best part of the mix tape is listening to it, so why not make this frame play the music on the tape too!

The design for the piece needed to be bright and fun, to keep with the 80’s theme. Using 2 bright colorcore mats, one pink and white and one teal and white, made a perfect color combination to set the piece in motion. The colorcores' plain white exteriors made for some fun extra features for designing the piece, including a colorful and graphic song list handwritten with fun pictures. 
The frame had to be deep enough to hold all of the elements of this frame design, so a tall simple black shadowbox was used, but to add a dash of 80’s fun, Amy decided to use a second bright teal companion frame from Universal’s Jane Seymour frame collection, to make the piece pop!

After coming up with a selection of songs that were special to Amy and Aaron’s relationship, the rest was making this idea feasible. The first step was to wire the speaker in to be able to not only play off of the cassette walkman, but to ensure that the batteries were able to be recharged, and to find a speaker with an on/off switch so that the life of the battery would last.

Finding a bluetooth speaker from a local retail store, Amy was able to take the speaker apart, remove the casing of the speaker, and rewire and solder it back together. The speaker, now attached to a battery box, also had an adapter plug to be able to accomodate the wire to the headphone jack of the cassette walkman.

From the back, the speaker battery case is exposed to be able to be removed easily from the box and be recharged by plugging it into a computer.

The cassette walkman is able to be removed from the piece as well, as it has the ability to connect to a computer to create mp3 versions of old cassette tapes. This was done by simply adhering a strong velcro pad to both the cassette player and the back mat.

To make the wires less visible, Amy built up her mats with foamcore, and cut out pathways and open spaces to accommodate all wires and battery casings.
The final part of the project was coming up with the songs on the playlist, and then decorating the mats like an old mix tape insert. Adding small drawings with bright colored pens was fun, but a bit stressful. There was no making a mistake once all the mats were in place and ready to go, but instead of getting stressed about it, Amy just decided to have fun with it, and go wild! There are small pictures that depict fun times in her and her husband’s lives, like a pair of bicycles since the two love to ride bikes, a small tree with their initials carved in the trunk, and special colors and icons from their wedding, as well as their wedding date added in the corner.  
“With all of the technology we have these days, actually sitting down with a bunch of markers and pens to draw up all the letters and fun pictures was a great escape from doing all my design work on the computer. I haven’t written out a music playlist in at least a decade, and once I started, it was hard to stop drawing and adding things to the pieces.” - Amy
So what was the reaction from Aaron?  

"I'm still blown away by how creative and personal this gift is. I would never have thought that framing could be used in such an interactive, personally connected way that brings our life, music, and art together into one piece. Who knew that you could still find cassette tape players?? Or put a speaker into a piece of art? Love, love, love it!" - Aaron
There's more Framer's Corners to come!
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Missoula, MT 59801