Wednesday, November 24, 2010
The Chinese Puzzle Picture Frame: Ready For Its Closeup
I'm dashing here and there today, getting ready for the holiday. But in the course of my travels I picked up the Chinese Puzzle Frame and got it up on the wall. For a piece that just missed being thrown in the trash, the darned thing looks pretty good. Especially since there is a story behind it.
In advance of our summer garage sale I found a stack of what appeared to me to be four rather horrid picture frames in the laundry room in the garage. My mother had about 300 picture frames she had found at junk stores over the years, and of all the frames she had scrounged, these four in the laundry room looked the absolute worst.
I started to take them out and pile them up for the sale, when my sister said to me:
"You know those four frames go together--like a Chinese puzzle--and make one big frame."
"You're kidding," I said, looking at the wretched pieces I was holding in a new light.
I set them aside to see what they would look like when, and if, I glued them together.
I glued them together. Two of the four sections appeared to have been gilded at one time, so off I traipsed to the arts and crafts store for a little bottle of gold paint, which I dabbed with great inability on two sections of the frame.
Then I got some furniture polish and polished the two wood parts.
It was all very baroque, like the Winchester Mystery House. But the frame said a lot about my mother and her unique ability to imagine something interesting in a pile of cast off junk. She clearly had the gift of vision.
On another quest altogether, I found a watercolor that showed my little hometown as it was about the time my parents moved here. The painting, by local artist Berni Jahnke, was copied from an old photo of our town. It hadn't sold and it was in the markdown bin at Viewpoint Gallery, a little cooperative of local artists in Los Altos.
I loved the colors she had used, the sunny colors of summer in California. It also featured the old movie theater on our Main Street--now gone, alas--where I had my first job in the entertainment business: the summer I was sixteen, I sold popcorn there and took tickets.
As luck would have it, the painting was just the right size for the Chinese Puzzle Frame. I took the frame and the painting to a framer I found in our town who went to all the same schools I did, only about seven years ahead of me. He was crazy for the painting, and loved the frame.
"Man, I really want that," he said. I told him I had almost thrown the frame away. He rolled his eyes.
Today the whole kit and kaboodle was complete and I picked it up.
The framer asked me to be sure and leave it to him in my will. I wonder if he's a relative?