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Making Memories Last

For when your keepsakes deserve a little more than a photo album on Facebook.


Patty McCobb has been in the framing business for nearly 30 years, opening Allerton Framing in Bristol last year. She shared some of her best tips on how to make your keepsakes even more memorable.

How can we create our own personal art?
Shadow box framing is my specialty. I recently framed a little girl’s ballet slippers and a photo of her within the same frame.   It’s something she will treasure when she grows up. Other fun assortments I’ve done include ribbons and medals from sporting events and armed service medals and flags.  You can also frame  a child’s drawing or  a handwritten card – they will so appreciate it when you give it back to them when they have children of their own.

Phone cameras make us all amateur photographers. What photo and display tips do you have?

Some tips that I learned while working as a photographer at The Boston Globe are trying to incorporate an “S” curve into landscape photos, and to place the subject  in one of the four corners, or perhaps make it off center.  That actually gives the viewer a much broader scene.

I think the best presentation for photography is to utilize all different sizes and shapes in a grouping. That way if you want to add on to your wall of fame, you can fit it in using similar styles that you already have. I remember when my mother wanted to frame our six graduation photos in decorative gold frames.  Two of us children still had yet to graduate so she opted to buy all six at the same time so they would match. I mention this to my customers, and sometimes it’s a game changer for which frame they choose.

What’s a recent project you’re proud of?
A friend asked me to frame the oddest thing a few years ago… burnt toast.  Flying out of T.F. Green for a trip, she looked out the plane window and saw about a dozen fire trucks surrounding the building she worked in. She was relieved to discover that the fire alarms were set off as a result of someone burning toast (they saved it for her as she was the supervisor in the building).

I constructed a “toaster” using a deep silver molding, cut two slots in the matte for the toast to appear as if it was popping out, and attached a plug to complete the design. I entered the piece in a national shadow box competition and took third place, and it was chosen as show favorite. Needless to say, my friend didn’t get her toast back! It’s hanging in my shop.

What surprises your customers?
There’s a big misconception about mom and pop businesses being more expensive than the big box stores.  My prices are far less than theirs, even when some of them tout a 70% off sale. Plus my work is guaranteed – if you aren’t happy with the finished piece, I will reframe it for no additional charge.

Allerton Framing Bristol
500 Metacom Avenue, Bristol