Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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The Great Framing Project of 2022


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Yet another project underway in the Needle ‘n Thread studio this year is one instigated by my rather brilliant sidekick Anna. It’s being completely managed by her as well. It’s one of those projects that has hung over my head for years, that just keeps growing… and growing… and growing.

When I work up embroidered samples of things to demonstrate techniques or to illustrate ideas for the blog, normally, those embroidered pieces end up relegated to a box or a folder. I pull them out when I have classes, or when someone wants to see some work up close.

When it comes to my home, I’m always of a mind that there is such a thing as Too Many Framed Pieces, but at work, it’s a little different. We have a good bit of wall space in the studio, and it’s pretty much blank! Plus, it’s a working studio, not a home.

A Wall (or two) of Inspiration seems to be a good idea.

Framing embroidery pieces

To that end, Anna proposed that she undertake framing a wide selection of embroidery pieces, large and small, that have languished in The Box for a while.

I said, “Go for it.”

And so the Great Framing Project of 2022 was underway. It’s definitely an ongoing project, for several reasons.

The most notable reason is that buying frames new is not a possibility. To buy new frames for the number of pieces we’ve pulled for framing would be too expensive. Instead, we’re finding frames via thrift stores, garage sales, local online marketplace sales and the like.

This is such a great way to pick up a large quantity of frames affordably. They aren’t all necessarily engineered for needlework, but Anna knows how to fiddle with them and make them work. There are some components that we need to buy new as we go (spacers, maybe some cut mats), but these little expenses are the negligible part of framing.

And occasionally, there’s a frame and glass that I might buy new, because of the piece being framed.

Framing embroidery pieces

For example, we decided the Secret Garden Hummingbirds needed a round frame. It’s hard to find round frames out in thrift stores and such – although frames on mirrors are sometimes an option. For this, though, Anna hunted down some affordable round frames. We tried other colors, but the frame we thought worked best was the black.

I don’t often say “it looks better in real life” when it comes to photos, but this does look better in real life!

Framing embroidery pieces

In my mind, I always thought bubble glass (convex glass) over the hummingbirds would look good, so Anna hunted that down, too. In true form, she went a frugal route. Instead of buying bubble glass from a specialty shop (The Victorian Frame Company online serves up new bubble glass), she looked for glass for clock faces and found a much more affordable piece from a clock the same size as the frame. Much less expensive than buying new!

It looks great in person! There’s no distortion from the bubble glass. You simply get the sense of a nice little bubble of glass over the embroidery.

With the exception of the hummingbird frame, all the other frames so far are thrift frames, picked up at thrift stores and the like. They’re not usually empty – sometimes, they have art prints or similar in them – but she just removes whatever is in the potential frame, cleans up the frame and the glass, and goes from there.

Framing embroidery pieces

I’ve written before about how to frame embroidery, and these are the techniques she’s using.

It’s funny, I probably would never have framed the lattice jumble sampler. It was more of a play and study piece, rather than a display piece. But it fit really well in this frame, so I said, “Why not?”

Framing embroidery pieces

Little Gertrude McFuzz, a practice piece for tambour work, got a delicate frame and mat. She looks sweet!

Framing embroidery pieces

This sparkly shisha piece with beads and metallic threads works well in a typical gold-toned photo frame.

Framing embroidery pieces

And this little blooming tree (which will show up this year again on the website, in a slightly different form) worked out well in a frame that matches Gertrude’s.

That was a few days of framing work by the intrepid sidekick, and I think they all turned out great.

My idea is to switch out framed pieces for display in our main work room. There is one large wall that does not get direct sun, so it’ll be a good place to establish a bit of color and to see a visual progress of projects that have developed over the years here on Needle ‘n Thread.

I suspect The Great Frame Job may very well last throughout 2022, as we ferret out thrifty frames here and there. I’ll keep you abreast on the developments of The Wall as it grows!

Taking a Break

We’ll be taking a break here on Needle ‘n Thread through next Wednesday, to observe the rest of Holy Week and to celebrate Easter.

Remember, next Wednesday’s the day I’ll let you know when the kit for Cotton Quartet will be available. We’re waiting for one last piece to the kits (a specific needle), which is due to arrive tomorrow. And then we can assemble and go! Yay!

If you’re eager to get the kit, look for that announcement of date and time for the kit launch in next Wednesday’s article.

I hope you have a joyful Easter and a wonderful week!


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(14) Comments

  1. I’m sure seeing all your beautifully framed embroideries will be the highlight of taking a class at your studio. Thanks for the idea using clock face glass, I might use that if you would share the web site it would be much appreciated.
    Jan Conners

  2. I’m sure you’ve heard this before but some stitchers frame their work and swap pieces out during the year. Certainly seasonal pieces when wanted or just lovely pieces changed now and then so they all get their chance to shine. 🙂 That could be even more inspiration for you through the year. I just take photos of mine. Then when I sit down and look through all the pictures, I get excited seeing things I forgot I’d even made.

  3. Dear Mary

    How absolutely lovely, I love all the frames and the embroideries look so beautiful all framed up. I don’t know why you don’t sell them, they are good enough and I’m sure would be appreciated. I really like them all but the Secret Humming Birds are my favourite in the round frame and the little Blooming Tree is also very pretty. My favourite frames are the sparkly shisha piece with beads and metallic threads and the Little Blooming tree very ornate. Well done Anna what great asset she is to you Mary.
    I hope you both have a rest and that Holy week will be inspiring for you both and you return refreshed from your break.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  4. Sorry for the dumb question but what’s ‘bubble glass’? Is it a specific type of glass? Or does ‘bubble’ describe the shape?

  5. Excellent framing work, intrepid sidekick!! Anna, we all are so glad you are there to help Mary with all things embroidery. Best wishes to you both for a wonderful and blessed Easter.

  6. Way to go Anna! These pieces are too nice to sit in drawers and bins.
    There are some lovely frames sitting in thrift stores and garage/estate sales with seriously ugly (IMHO) contents. And a bit of paint or metallic wax can move a blah frame from OK to one that shows the needlework to best advantage.

  7. Mary,

    I haven’t taken the time yet to let you know how much I appreciate all you do, share and write, etc. about embroidery. You give so much of yourself and I’m grateful for that. I’m happy to be a “patron” of your art – just like in the European centuries past. Thank you!!! I also appreciate your love of ecclesiastical embroidered vestments, etc.

    Karen MacDuff

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