What made you decide you wanted to frame memories for a living?
I thought it would be a retirement job, but it turns out that I’m busier now than at my previous jobs. I feel good because I have customers who will have keepsakes of objects that would otherwise be put into drawers.
How long does it usually take to finish a project?
We’re constantly busy, but a project will take at least 2-3 weeks to complete. My problem is that I don’t know how to say no to people coming in at the last minute.
How did you come up with the idea of framing 3D objects?
I noticed that 3D framing was not very accessible. It was mostly at places like Planet Hollywood—regular people couldn’t just go out to the neighborhood framer to get their 3D objects framed.
Why would you bother to frame a 3D object when you can just display it on a shelf?
There are many things you can’t put on a shelf, sometimes for security reasons, or because you don’t want things getting dusty. Some things, like old badges, you want on aesthetic display while being able to preserve them.
What kinds of 3D objects frame the best?
Anything. Someone once said of me: “She can make road kill look good.” I definitely take that as a compliment, because I believe anything can look good with the proper presentation.
What are some of the weirdest things you’ve had to frame?
Once I had a mother who had collected all her son’s memorabilia—I was so impressed with her collection. It included all the son’s milk teeth, which I incorporated in the frame, and the mother presented it to her son for his 21st birthday. Another time we got a pair of men’s underwear.
Do you ever get nervous handling other people’s memories or delicate items?
No, not really. Once we got an innocent looking lighter, and it turned out to be a $20,000 auction item belonging to JFK.
Can you frame heavy items like vases or sculptures?
Yes. However heavy it is, we have a way to make it work.
What about flowers or wedding bouquets?
We’ve done a lot of dried flowers, but we normally don’t encourage customers to frame flowers. From a Chinese point of view, decaying flowers bring bad qi.
Have you ever had to refuse to frame something?
In terms of ideas, I try to be respectful. I’m not the stubborn, arty farty type, but sometimes I have refused if something is totally unacceptable to me in terms of colors and arrangement, especially if my reputation is at stake. Most customers will take my suggestions or understand my thinking. So far there has been only one customer who wouldn’t budge, so I let him go.