My father passed away in 2000. A lot of favorite pictures exist of my father, and one was a photo of him in his military uniform. In this picture, he appears to be so young, and more than a bit sure of himself. The eyes tell the entire story. I learned to read my Dad’s eyes from a very young age, and it was never difficult to know when he was angry, amused or affectionate. The fascination with this picture is the really young fella with my Dad’s eyes.
A few months back, Mom took the old black and white photo down and had enlarged copies made for each of us three kids. Mine has been propped up against the wall, sitting on the edge of my desk. I enjoyed having it there, but I feared damaging it. Obviously it was time for a frame.
I rounded up some white oak pieces that I had left from another project, and cut them up for a frame to fit a 5 x 7 photo and glued them up. I started with 1 1/2 inch wide material. After looking at the photo and the frame it was clear to me that the frame needed to be more narrow. I cut it down to 3/4 of an inch.
Next came the finish options. I considered natural, but that did not seem appropriate. Classic dark brown and golden brown were not right, but black seemed like it would fit a black and white photo. But, then if I wanted black, I could go to one of 100 stores and buy a black frame. I had a number of General Dyes on my shelf, with colors including yellow, orange, blue and browns. I dyed samples of each and eyeballed them against the photo. Not quite right.
I ended up mixing equal parts of yellow and blue to get a green which matched the army green color of Dad’s uniform. I liked the color except it was a bit light and the pores of the wood were not accepting the dye well deep into their bottoms. To compensate for the two issues, I bought a very cheap black artist acrylic paint. After spraying on a light coat of shellac, I rubbed the entire frame with the paint, I wiped it down and let it dry. I finished it with a couple coats of finish, and I was happy with the look.
I went to the store and bought a cheap frame and took the glass and the back from it which would allow me to prop Dad’s picture up like a photo should be. Unfortunately it does not fit where I had it for the past couple of months and I will have to find him a new home. But he will look good anywhere he sits, and those eyes talk to me every time I look into them.