The Frames We Make

At Stafford Framing Company, we not only design and build beautiful handcrafted hardwood frames from scratch, we also offer a curated selection of pre-finished styles and closed corner frames imported from manufacturers and studios around the world.  And to decide on a frame that’s in perfect harmony with the picture, we also offer sensitive, intelligent custom framing design and full preservation framing services.  At our showroom we display hundreds of designs and constantly develop new ones, but because our capacities are unlimited, we’re able to provide completely individualized framing — settings that will serve as perfectly fitting displays as unique as the subject.  Our frame styles range from delicate “drawing” frames to massive architectural designs, from simple and modern to detailed and more decorative in textures and finishes from industrial to rustic, antique to contemporary.  Techniques we use include fine joinery, sensitively shaped and proportioned profiling, hand-carved details, paints to match colors, and stains, oils and waxes to enhance the grain and clarity of the wood. We urge you to visit us, if at all possible, with your artwork — but we’re also fully prepared to meet your needs by remote in-home consultation anywhere in Southern Arizona.  Contact us for an appointment or to plan your visit >>

Our In-House Frames

The frames we make in-house are closed-corner-frames and are made to order and from scratch.  While most frames today are joined from mass-produced, pre-finished molding, closed-corner (also called finished-corner) frames are finished after joining. Before framing became a big business, frames were joined in the raw—using time-honored joining methods—and then finished, as a piece of furniture would be. The traditional method makes for stronger, cleaner and more even corners—and more enduring and beautiful frames.

Why we make Closed-Corner Frames

The problem with the vast majority of frames available is that they are made from mass-produced molding, finished in length and then chopped down to make individual frames, glued together with metal fasteners driven in from below by pneumatic power.  The corners of such frames are neither as strong nor as clean and even as they should be. Frames made this way don’t allow for the sound joinery we expect of quality wooden furnishings. And at best, the finish, by necessity, is broken where the sides meet.

The conventional joining methods of the framing industry have the advantage of being low-cost because they are quick and require little skill and training. But, being mechanically inferior, they don’t hold up to either time or close scrutiny. Even when they’re not abused, the corners of conventional frames usually break down before too many years, simply because, unlike proper wood joints, this joinery isn’t designed to withstand natural wood movement caused by humidity changes and the normal glue failure seen when the end-grain soaks up glue as it dries.

Closed-Corner Joinery

The corners of a frame, the joints, are its main points of strength and integrity, and are a primary concern for the serious frame-maker. Finishing frames after they’re joined allows for much stronger, more durable joinery like dovetail keys, splines, mortise-and-tenon and lap joints rather than relying on the dubious strength of nails and screws.

Making our frames this way also means the joints are more even, since they can be sanded, planed and carved to meet perfectly. And the joints are cleaner, since the stain and varnish are continuous over the joint. Of course it also means we aren’t limited to a molding factory’s limited color offerings, but can finish the frame to exactly the right color and shade for your picture.

Inspiration from Tucson design history

Tucson’s rich architecture and design history includes the Territorial / Victorian / Queen Anne Style starting in the 1880s with the arrival of the railroad, The Craftsman Period of the early 1900s, The Spanish Colonial and Mediterranean Revival structures of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, and the Mid-Century Modern Period of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.  To produce frames that are at home in these quintessential Tucson interiors, we use moulding milled into vintage profiles for our antique finished frames, as well as beautiful decorative hardwoods like walnut, oak, cherry and maple in the humble shapes of Craftsman and Modern styles to let the unique color and grain pattern of each species shine.  We use hand applied stains, paints, oils and waxes to bring out that character, as well as distressing and patinating glazes to give them the character of age.  With the use of these time-honored techniques and materials, we’ve restored the legacy of workmanship and design all but lost in the framing industry of today: frames built from scratch and designed specifically for the picture.

Other styles from around the world

We also represent a curated collection of hard to find pre-finished and closed corner styles from distant sources that are each uniquely beautiful.  These include imported mouldings from a small factory in Sienna, Italy not sold anywhere else in Tucson as well as fine closed corner frames made by design partners across the world, including welded aluminum frames from the museum trade, frames clad in punched and dyed leather from saddle makers in Peru, futuristic looking frames carved by computer controlled routers from solid sheets of polished and frosted acrylic, as well as century-old companies in New York City who still gild wooden frames in precious metals with old world techniques to produce period designs.  Our decades of experience in the field have allowed us to build a roster we believe to include the best frame-makers in the world today.

Catalog of Frames

Browse our vast & detailed catalog of frame designs, from the natural beauty of modern decorative hardwood designs to the warmth and character of our vintage and antiqued collection, including special corner designs and custom stain colors.  The catalog also shows pre-finished and closed corner styles made in far flung studios that aren’t available anywhere else in Tucson.

Framing Services

We provide complete and expert preservation framing for your paintings, prints, drawings, posters and photographs. We believe the frame must serve the picture by protecting it and aesthetically enhancing it.

Past Projects

Browse categorized examples of custom framing jobs we have done over the years — and find inspiration for framing your own pictures.