Behind the art : The making of a State Icon

Ever wondered what goes into making one of my State Icons? Here’s a sneak peek at some of the work that has to be done to make one little framed illustration.

The garage turned "shop," aka, "Where the magic happens."

My parents' garage turned "shop," aka, "Where the magic happens."

My dad is a self-taught woodworker and a lover of tools. He has turned the garage into a place where he makes beautiful furniture, as well as the frames for my State Icons series.

How it all begins.

How the frames begin.

Sheets of plywood are cut down to frame size and then cut twice more to include the bevel and the place where the glass sits. They are then sanded and angle-cut into pieces, so there are two shorter sides and two longer sides, in order to make the rectangular frames.

The glueing jig

Gettin' jiggy with it (OMG)

My dad made this glueing jig so four frames can be glued evenly at once.

The backs of a batch of frames, post paint

The backs of a batch of frames, post paint

Once glued and dried, the back sides of the frames get a quick shot of black spray paint.

My dad acts as a hand model...er, cuts glass for a frame.

My dad acts as a hand model...er, cuts glass for a frame.

Glass is cut individually from panes we get from friends, neighbors, and anyone who wants us to take it off their hands. In two years, we haven’t had to buy glass. I love being able to recycle things to make art.

Painted frames are mated with backs and glass.

Painted frames are mated with backs and glass.

My mom hand paints each individual frame with a coat of black paint. Once dry, they get another coat. Backs are cut to size and then paired with frames and glass. The frames are now ready for me to insert my illustrations, which I have already printed and trimmed to size. I also add my signature to each Icon illustration.

My part of the process: Framing the illustrations and attaching the backs, plus adding the sawtooth hangers, and signing and labeling each finished piece.

My part of the process

Inserting the illustrations sounds like an easy task, and many times it is (oh how I love those times). But most often it’s a lot of back and forth, as I’m not satisfied until every speck of lint/dust/black flecks from paint or whatever else might try to squeak it’s way between the illustration and the glass. But once all is clear, the illustration goes in and I secure the back with glazer’s points and then attach a sawtooth hanger. Finally, a redshoes26 design label is placed on the back side, and the State Icon is complete!

I’d love to know what you think about this process. What goes into what you do? I love behind-the-scenes peeks—spill yours in the comments section!

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One Comment on “Behind the art : The making of a State Icon”

  1. […] It really started one day when my wife and I were looking at new bedroom furniture. The furniture that we had was hand-me-down from my mother and father, and it was very ornate with many places for dust to settle. My wife wanted a clean design, without all the carving and dust-collecting areas. She really liked a Mission Style set that we saw at the furniture store, but neither of us liked the $3,000 price tag. I did not know it at the time, but my woodworking really started with the words, “I can build that cheaper,” and my wife replying with, “OK, build that set.” After the sawdust settled, I think the total cost of the set was more than $3,000 just in tools, but I now have some wonderful new tools, with which I have built lots of furniture, cabinets, shadowboxes, and many, many State Icon frames since then. [For more info on this frame-making process, read my blog post, Behind the art : The making of a State Icon.] […]


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