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Return to rustic: the steadily increasing popularity of driftwood and reclaimed wood frames.

This fall, as the leaves were starting to turn and the weather was becoming cool and crisp, I took a ferry to Nantucket Island, 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Herman Melville's Moby-Dick describes the island as "an elbow of sand." In the summer, Nantucket is a playground for the rich and famous, but it's also home to many skillful artisans, and downtown galleries proudly display the works of local artists along the cobblestone streets. I especially enjoy visiting Nantucket in the fall, when most summer visitors have left and the island returns to its peaceful, quiet state.

As I was browsing the town's Farmers and Artisans Market--the last one until spring returns--I found two beautiful photographs by local artist Kaity Farrell. One photo was of Great Point Lighthouse, which is on the northern tip and the most remote part of the island; it requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle and at least 20 minutes of driving on the beach to reach it. I have special memories of spending long summer days with friends there and winter days when the only other people around were serious fishermen casting off from the beach.

When I saw the photo, a giclee print with a scene of the lighthouse just before sunset and with a flock of gulls overhead, I knew just the kind of frame I wanted: a rustic, reclaimed, or driftwood frame with natural tones to complement the tones in the beachscape. And, as I found when I visited local frame shops, I wasn't the only one.

Rustic styles have become more popular in recent years, as trends have shifted away from the more formal and traditional styles of the past. More consumers are looking for natural-looking and reclaimed wood for both home and business interiors, including frames that complement a rustic design.

Nantucket is no exception. Its gray-shingled homes are naturally weathered, and artists often carve reclaimed wood from its shores into art. As other trends have waxed and waned over the years, rustic frames have held their own, slowly yet steadily gaining popularity.

"I love the reclaimed wood frames," says Blake Richard, owner of Nantucket Frameworks. "I love the look of them, ... and I sell quite a [few] of them."

Since opening Nantucket Frameworks 15 years ago, Richard's clientele has expanded to include galleries, shops, and designers, as well as individual customers who want to frame prints and paintings for their homes.

Of the 200 frame styles Richard stocks, only two are truly reclaimed wood frames, and 15 more are driftwood or rustic-looking; still, the rustic frames that he stocks do well. He estimates that the rustic-style frames are in the top three or four most popular frame groups he offers, with plain white being the most popular at the moment. The rustic frames Richard carries are mostly in varying shades of gray and white, though he stocks a couple of black driftwood frames as well.

Though these frames have some obvious applications for such things as my print of the lighthouse and beachscape, for example, beach-themed artwork isn't what sells most of Richard's rustic frames. Richard says he's framed more mirrors than artwork in the reclaimed wood frames.

If customers are interested in the rustic or reclaimed frames, Richard will often show them more than just a corner sample to make sure they know what they're getting.

"With the reclaimed wood and even some of the other driftwood I have, a lot of times I'll pull a full stick of it because sometimes a corner sample doesn't actually show the full detail, like nail holes right through the top of the frame," explains Richard. "Every time I sell a reclaimed wood I say, 'Just so you know, this is part of the character of the frame; it might have nail holes or other imperfections'"

For customers who like the idea of a rustic frame but don't want actual reclaimed wood complete with nail holes, Richard offers a selection of factory-produced driftwood frames, which are also popular. These frames have clean lines, no flaws, and no nail holes or nicks.

Some of Richards frames are preassembled, but many require cutting and sizing, and some of the authentic reclaimed wood frames require additional work in that regard.

"[The gray reclaimed wood frame I stock] starts out as a larger piece of wood, and they run it through a saw to make it 1.5 inches wide. It cuts into the inside of the wood, which is not naturally weathered like the outside, so when I'm doing those, I use a gray stain [on] the inside lip of the frame, so it has a gray look like the rest of it," he says. "I've seen people who don't take the time to do it, but I think [omitting] it looks terrible."

These rustic, reclaimed, and driftwood frames are becoming popular across the country. As I wandered through my Seattle neighborhood this fall, I stopped into a few local frame shops to check out their selections of rustic frames. The shop owners all say the same thing: Rustic frames are popular and have been gaining steam in recent years. Most frame shops I visited, however, don't carry any truly reclaimed wood frames.

Art that incorporates rustic-style and reclaimed wood is not a new trend, either. My mother, a fine artist who paints still lifes, remembers meeting another artist at a show years ago who did some of her paintings on reclaimed barn wood. Those pieces always sold out, she told my mother.

Some style trends fade quickly. Take gold frames, for example.

"Ten years ago, gold frames were flying out the door," says Richard. "Now, they're only about one of every 40 framing projects that I do. But reclaimed woods and driftwoods have held their own, and their popularity has even slightly gone up.

"I think [the demand for driftwood and reclaimed-wood frames] is probably going to become stronger as the years go on," he continues. "I figure the white has to phase out eventually, and the reclaimed and driftwoods are going to step up even more then." ?

Elise Linscott is a freelance journalist based in Seattle. A Massachusetts native and Western New England University grad, Linscott previously worked as a staff reporter for a newspaper, and she loves getting outdoors, meeting new people, and exploring.
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Comment:Return to rustic: the steadily increasing popularity of driftwood and reclaimed wood frames.
Author:Linscott, Elise
Publication:Art Business News
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 22, 2015
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