97. Bearing Witness

“Bearing Witness” 7: Assembling the frame

The original frame was of traditional construction. It consisted of four pieces of wood for the front, joined at 45 degree angles, and four pieces of wood for the edge, screwed to each other and to the front.

What I needed to do was remove one of the edge pieces – the one at the bottom – in order to make space for the metal strip holding the electronics. In addition there needed to be some way of holding the artwork in place.I decided on a thinner version of the metal strip that would run along the back of the frame on which the artwork could sit.

In fact, I found that I needed to change the side edge pieces as well, because they were quite thick and didn’t leave enough room for the vertical metal strip holding the Flash. So I removed all of the edge pieces, leaving just the front part of the frame, and bought some thinner wood to remake the edges. Here’s a photo of the front of the frame, from behind, with the artwork laid on top (the wrong way around).


The bottom would comprise two right-angled metal strips, a 25×25 mm one at the front with the electronics on and a 12 mm one at the back on which the artwork would sit, with the vertical face behind to keep the artwork in place. Here’s a photo of the front piece with the three new pieces of wood placed in position. The thinner metal strip is seen below.


I used one wooden dowel at each end of the top-edge piece to help support it if the frame is picked up by its top.


Then I used these plastic brackets and PVA glue to attach the edge pieces to the front.


Next, I sprayed the whole frame black, inside and out. The original frame had been painted with a water-soluble paint, so before I attached the edge pieces  I put the front section in the bath and scrubbed it to get rid of all the surface paint. I used a spray paint that would attach to anything (metal, wood, plastic) without a primer. (I’m guessing it’s some sort of plastic / glue combination; it certainly has enough toxic chemicals – I would wait for a still day, stand at a distance, take a deep breath, spray a bit, retreat to a distance, breath, a process that worked quite well.)


Design flaw
The picture shows one side piece, at the bottom. The plan had been to attach the thinner metal strip by cutting a slot each side into which the horizontal face of the metal strip could be pushed. Since the strip supports the artwork, this, plus a screw in the vertical face of the metal strip,  should  make it quite secure.

What actually happened was that one of the slots was a rather tight fit; when I pushed it into place the part of the side piece below the cut broke off.

So I added some metal strip to the sides of the frame as well, a kind of exoskeleton for the side edges. This makes the frame immensely stronger; the artwork is supported by a 1.1cm right-angle metal strip (see picture – the black-painted strip), which is bolted to vertical strips on each side, which are bolted to the hangers. The wooden frame and electronics attach to this exoskeleton.


Finally, I added a couple of extra brackets to support the top-edge (cut from 25 mm metal strip), mainly to protect it further against being picked up by the top.

The electronics (attached to a larger right-angle metal strip) will be screwed to the wooden front, level with the strip supporting the artwork (leaving about 1 cm gap for air to circulate). Finally, the whole frame was given another coat of black paint.





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