Saturday, June 28, 2008


The Picture House, the shop that has been framing my work for over ten years, is shutting its doors. It had been run by a husband and wife team who, over the years, had become friends. I would visit the shop every four or five weeks with something to frame. The wife, Diane, was also a stitcher whose favorite designers were Lavender & Lace and Miribilia. Though she had Teresa Wentzler's The Castle framed and hung in a corner of the shop, she always complained about the 1/4 stitches and the outlining in that piece, vowing never again to stitch a Wentzler design. It was one of the few areas of disagreement between us since I love Wentzler and stitch a lot of her designs. Every time I brought one into the shop for framing, Diane would shake her head and revisit the topic. Bruce, the husband shares my passion for dragons and always found just the right frames for them. I remember one afternoon, in particular, when he proudly produced a molding that was incised in such a way that the carving looked like dragon scales. It was always a pleasure to visit their shop ... even after the time-consuming job of selecting the right frame and mats [when required] was done I would linger, discussing all sorts of topics with them: stitching, the job, marriage and children, their extensive volunteer work, even their landlord and the neighboring shops. Then, quite suddenly, last November, Diane died of a heart attack. Bruce was and is devastated ... as he put it, he lost a savvy and companionable business partner as well as a beloved wife. He tried to keep the shop open ... but every time a customer would come asking "Where's Diane?" the wounds would open again ... after all, even his "regular" customers often came in only two or three times a year and many of them hadn't heard about Diane's passing. Every so often he would turn and expect Diane to be there to share a joke or the pleasure of a particularly artistic framing job. For most of us, when a spouse dies, work becomes a temporary haven but for Bruce, the workplace is just one more empty place where he feels Diane's absence terribly. He has decided, if he is to heal, he must move on. I shall miss the shop just as I already miss Diane. Bruce has referred me to a new framer and I've already brought two pieces there but it just isn't the same. I am sure the ladies at the new place are quite nice and I know that they must be competent or Bruce would never have given me their card. But I don't know them and they don't know me or my work ... the owners are artists who make a living with framing and giving art classes ... while they do seem to appreciate textile arts, that don't have the bone deep understanding of it that Diane had and Bruce has. Though raised Catholic, neither Bruce nor Diane were particularly religious. Even so, Bruce had a memorial card made for Diane ... since he felt it would be hypocritical to use the usual "holy" card, he had Diane's card printed with one of her Lavender and Lace angels ... one that had always hung right across from the counter. I'll treasure that card as a momento of them both. I wish Bruce well ... I can't even begin to imagine his pain but I hope he heals without losing any of the beautiful memories of his Diane.

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