THE FRAME for the Viking Family Portrait developed in my head as I was reading and thinking about the painting idea and while Jim Bergquist was writing the grant for the Runestone Museum. It seemed reasonable to create a frame that would help tell the Viking Family story. Museums are about stories, stories of people, their culture, history, their things and much more. A nice professional frame would work, but a frame created by the two major cultures (Viking and Native American) in the museum would be even better.
So I began to think about the obvious - Nordic wood carvings on Viking ships and structures like Stave Churches. The Native American culture contribution to the frame didn't present itself as easy. Then I began to think "texture". The weaving texture on Native American baskets came to mind and the idea of the frame began to develop in my mind and in my sketch and "think" book. The idea has evolved through talking with Jim, the Director of the Museum, April StoneDahl on her Native culture, Phillip Odden, the Nordic carver, and Rich Kephart, the cabinet maker.
THE DAY APRIL'S WEAVING SAMPLES CAME IN THE MAIL, I became very excited The same day Phillip and I talked on the phone about shape and size of his carving. Connecting with both of these artists put me back on the drawing board to work out the construction of the frame shape that would hold the carving and weaving. The drawing on this page is where things are at right now.
RICHARD KEPHART, THE CABINET MAKER, put his mind to the drawing and talked me through the structure and construction. The frame will be made of oak since the Vikings used oak to build their ships, another part of the story in the frame! I want a straight oak grain rather than the typical cathedral grain you see at most lumber yards. Rich wants make sure the wood is dried to his specs to minimize shrinking or warping.
He has offered to go with me to Renneberg's in Menahga, Minnesota to pick out Rift Cut Red Oak for the project. I have always enjoyed picking the boards I want for a furniture project. It is much like shopping in an art gallery where God is the artist.
I will let Renneberg's speak for themselves. "At Renneberg we strive to be the best! We start with the finest raw northern hardwoods, which yield the tighter grain and preferred rich colors of the abundant, slower-growing forests of the Great Lakes region. We do our own northwoods drying, by fresh air and in steam kilns - a carefully controlled process. We take up to double the time others do -- slower drying, personally monitored -- a knowledge gained over 30 years -- to give us the finest colors and a stable flat product. Each board is individually inspected and graded."
There may be slight adjustments made to the design to make sure there is beauty and function, but Rich has given me confidence in his ability to take April's weaving and Phillip's carvings and put this frame together in a beautiful and lasting way!
THE PURPOSE OF THE FRAME is to serve the painting by separating it from its surroundings - to bring it into focus. It also serves to protect the painting. I think this frame will do both as it also yields a deeper appreciation for the history of the Viking age and the Native Americans they encountered - dare I say here in the Alexandria area. I do dare to say it!