When is a picture framer not a picture framer?

Carved frame in Jelutong with inlay
Carved frame in Jelutong


………when they don’t frame pictures.

Eh? But you said that you make picture frames!

Yes I do.

Before you run screaming from the computer at this potentially confusing answer let me explain what I mean.

This whole question of what does or doesn’t make someone a picture framer has come up quite a lot recently. Mainly due to the fact that I’ve just moved workshop and I’ve had to explain what I do to a whole new group of people. They immediately lock me into the picture framer ‘box’ in their mind.

Yes I do make and carve picture frames, but I don’t generally have anything to do with putting the artwork into the frame. This is what I believe makes someone a picture framer, they pull together all the elements and actually put them together.

As far as picture frames are concerned I am basically a link in a chain of events. I specialise in making the frame to the best of my ability to the exact size given so that the next specialist link can do their part to the best of their ability, and so on down the chain.

By getting several specialists to work together on a job you get a far superior finished article done in a timely fashion.

Don’t get me wrong I can do it, I can follow the job through from start to finish completely its just that I don’t. I wholeheartedly believe that you should know something about the parts of the job that come after and/or before your part so that you can spot potential mistakes and not pass any on. For example a carver can make a gilders job incredibly difficult by the way that they carve the frame.

If we all tried to do each others job I don’t think the outcome would be as polished and it would also take a lot longer.

This is also why I introduce myself as a woodcarver specialising in frame carving rather than a picture framer.

Although for some people it seems to be easier for them to call me a picture framer, I think often they just honestly don’t know the difference.





Jutta M Stiller is a wood carver and sculptor specialising in Netsuke and Couture frames click here to subscribe to her newsletter ‘Tales From the Woodcarving Bench’ .