Lucky the gal who can make a full-time career out of a hobby. That’s what Inge Labuschagne has done for herself. Taking a leap of faith in 2009 during the Great Recession,
Inge opened Frame of Mind, a specialty framing service in the west end of Richmond. She could have easily taken the less-risky route and maintained her job running the frame shop at Crossroads Art Center. Thank goodness she didn’t. Inge and her two full-time employees have made a name for themselves by combining artistic eye, customized service (at very competitive pricing) and a small art gallery to exceed customers’ expectations.
Many a time I have walked into Frame of Mind with a piece to frame and no idea what to do with it. Inge, with the patience of Job and a twinkle in her eye, will pull down a few suggestions for moldings. Inevitably, after cycling through a number of possibilities, I circle back to the first sample she selected. She just knows what works.
Recently I brought Inge a rather large challenge. My husband and I had removed a triptych from our river house that the previous owner had commissioned for a walled partition.
(two of the three panels of the walled partition shown)
When we remodeled, we stored the art in the garage where it collected cobwebs for a few years. LDB was rather fond of the panels and wondered if we could preserve and use a portion in some way. I knew just who would be up to the challenge.
Inge did her research to find a lightweight yet sturdy wooden backing on which to mount the canvases, then carefully trimmed and glued them to the board. The easy part was assembling the frame, which of course did take me a bit of decision-making time. The result was worth the effort.
Now an otherwise lonely wall displays our rescued canvases.
Another cherished piece requiring the just-so treatment was this hydrangea by Blackwell Botanicals.
note the custom calligraphy by Ginny Rogan in the top right corner
I planned this treasure to be a standalone piece, so its frame needed a bit of gravitas while not overwhelming the hydrangea. As usual, Inge applied her exacting taste to my unique project.
Inge wants to get the job done right. She and her assistant Miranda Crawford
Inge (left) and Miranda confer with each other
work magic on wooden frames, like the restoration of the intricate ones below.
Miranda specializes in applying wood filler, finishes, stains and paint to old and new moldings to restore or customize them to achieve the just-right look.
Once I asked them to frame a mirror using rustic white-washed molding, only the color was a bit off for the bathroom where it was to be hung. Miranda easily adjusted the color, retaining the rough-hewn look, with only a modest charge to apply the new color. With the aforementioned hydrangea, I knew I was pushing Inge to finish on a firm deadline, but she delivered. Or rather Miranda did, to my front door on a Friday evening just before I was hosting a party on Saturday. I am forever grateful.
Inge has forged relationships with some of our favorite local artists Sunny Goode, Chris Shands, Mehmet Sahin Altug, Ruth Reilly, Vicky Foster, Kim Nix and Catherine Bosh, and Frame of Mind has many of their works for sale.
Often while I am in the shop, I’m also checking out the latest on display. Inge’s smart like that, promoting local artists and creating demand for her framing services.
She’s Very Richmond
Although born in South Africa, Inge has managed to become quite the Very Richmond gal since moving to RVA in 1999, a move made so her husband could take a technical job implementing the Y2K (remember that?) conversion for a client. Inge models the qualities we would all love to have in friends, neighbors and employers. She puts a premium on employees and local businesses.
For example, Inge employs two full-time workers because she feels the full-time status gives them security and a sense of well-being. In return she retains two satisfied and loyal employees. She uses only American-made mats. As well, she only buys moldings from Virginia businesses. Once upon a time one of the Big Boys in the industry did her wrong, and she vowed that she would use only Virginia providers from that point forward. She hasn’t looked back. Go Inge!
The word is out on Frame of Mind. Don’t even think about dropping off any work during the week preceding Garden Week because they are crazy busy helping homeowners and designers (Dana Gibson, Sarah Wiley, Jennifer Stoner, Molly Carey, Pye Interiors of Charlottesville to name a few) finish the staging of the homes on tour.
And the Winner Is…
But enough about what I think. Richmond recently voted Frame of Mind as the Readers’ Favorite.
With all the competition in RVA for framing, that is quite a distinction. It’s no surprise, though, because Inge Labuschagne and her team have the right frame of mind to deliver the skill and service expected by our discerning community.
August 13, 2015