Mastering the use of a precision mat cutting jig is essential in a custom framing shop. Kathy Drake said cutting the frame stock and glass is easy compared making perfect mat. “It’s good I have lots of scrap to practice on,” she said. (Photos by Gary Henry/The Prairie Press)

Framing targets local needs

Weeping Manor expands services, takes over framing business in Paris

It is exciting for a business owner to expand with a new service.

Kathy Jo Drake recently added a framing component to her Weeping Manor store at 103 N. Central, Paris. She acknowledges there is a big learning component to framing, especially in operating the precision mat cutter.

“I’m learning how to do this,” she said.

Custom framing is not entirely new for Drake. She had prior experience making frames for her personal use, but the frame shop is on a bigger scale and deals with more diverse items than her previous experience.

“Anybody can buy a ready made frame,” said Drake, adding custom framing is for odd-sizes, unusually shaped objects or pieces of art that are too massive for prebuilt frames and need something special. It also appeals to people who value a unique look and disdain using mass-produced items.

Custom framing, Drake said, allows for a creative approach in how objects are displayed. She recently completed a project for a customer who wanted a couple of items safely secured in a frame while still having them visible from both front and back. That required some ingenuity in cutting a mat to fill the frame.

Another project is a request to repair a frame from the 1840s that holds a cross-stitch sampler.

“If I can’t get it back to the way I want it, I will frame around it with a new frame,” said Drake. “It’s a very delicate piece, and I don’t want to do any more than is needed.”

Weeping Manor is an outgrowth of Drake’s creative spirit and interest in crafts. She participated in craft shows for several years and after stopping that wanted a way to get back into crafts and doing the things she enjoyed.

“We needed an outlet for the goods we enjoyed making an selling,” she said.

The store carries floral arrangements that she and Kathy Porter make, a variety of craft items from other local artisans and also a line of products from wholesalers. In addition, catalogs provide the store with access to valances, curtains and other home related items.

“We are leaning more toward a home décor,” said Drake. “We thought this (framing) would be a good fit for the home décor we do, and for the photography my husband and I do.”

The move into custom framing was a couple of years in the making. Drake said Sandy Shanks approached her shortly after Weeping Manor opened at 318 N. Main. 

Drake explained Shanks was preparing for retirement from her framing, auto glass and paint and wallpaper store at the corner of Jasper and Lower Terre Haute Road. 

The suggestion was Drake might take over the framing business, but it wasn’t practical because the original store site was not big enough to accommodate the sales floor and a frame shop.

“Sandy approached me again at the start of the year,” said Drake, and this time it was right to take the offer.

Drake did not have any concerns about the additional expense. She realized there is a need for custom framing in this area – otherwise people must seek out shops in Champaign or Terre Haute, Ind. 

“Everybody knew Sandy so her customers are following me here,” said Drake. “They are pleased, because they don’t always have the time to take something to Terre Haute and go back for it.”

Buying the frame equipment also gave Drake access to Shanks’ expertise.

“Sandy is mentoring me,” Drake said. “She’s working with me to learn how to properly use the mat cutter. We watch a lot of YouTube videos.”

The Prairie Press

101 Central Avenue Paris, IL 61944