BY CHRISTINA STURDIVANT
At Frame Savvy, in Hyattsville, MD, owner Cheryl Fountain prides herself on offering a high-quality framing service that protects special items for years to come. From conservation framing that preserves valuable items to basic framing of diplomas, posters and more, Fountain runs her business in a way that ensures every item is in safe hands and all customers receive their best experience possible.
Fountain’s introduction to framing came on a whim. About 14 years ago, she entered a small frame shop to get a picture framed. After an engaging conversation with the owner, she gained interest in his craft. She returned to the shop and asked if he could teach her how to frame. The rest is history.
Fountain opened her storefront about six years ago, leaving behind a career in information technology and computer programming, where she worked with organizations including the State Department and National Institutes of Health.
At Frame Savvy, there’s very little redundancy in working with customers. “We never know what the customers are going to bring to have framed–sometimes they’re prints, paintings, newspaper clippings, family heirlooms,” she says. “Sometimes customers get emotional when they see things framed because they’re of very significant value to them. So every day is different, that’s what I enjoy about it.”
Likewise, framing techniques are different for each item. While the shop holds a large selection of ready-made frames, many are customized. The hands-on process of custom framing includes selecting a frame, mat and glass that suits each item best.
“There are certainly ways that you can simply throw a picture into a frame, but it will look like you threw a picture into a frame,” says Fountain.
The shop also provides photo and canvas printing as well as digital photo restoration. If customers come in and there’s a wait, they sit down in the shop that Fountain describes as “hip” and “relaxing,” or they’ll grab something to eat at a local restaurant in the surrounding Hyattsville arts district.
Everything is completed in-house using basic carpentry skills such as cutting wood, glass and mats. Additionally, up-to-date tools such as computerized mat cutter allow for each frame to incorporate a unique design.
“We have customers that will drive past our competitor to come to us because they prefer a smaller, hands-on experience and they know that once their artwork is here, it stays here,” says Fountain. “We’re the ones who take care of it to make sure its finished the way that its supposed to be finished.”
A large component of choosing a frame has to do with knowledge of the work. Not only is Fountain an art collector who formerly owned a gallery, she views art on a consistent basis.
“I love to see original artwork,” she says. “Prints are nice because that’s what we can afford and there’s only one original, but I just like the idea of going to see the original artwork.”
Fountain has traveled to the Picasso Museum, the Louvre, Andy Warhol Museum, Egyptian Museum and goes to the Philadelphia Art Museum once a year. And of course, she visits local venues in DC.
When she can’t feed her need for art outside of Hyattsville, her shop provides comfort, “Having a frame shop is a great way to see art every single day without having to go look for it.”