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Picture This!

Frame the Things You Love

Owners Ray Sweeney and his wife, Mariann, bought Frames by You in 2015 after Ray stopped by to pick up a framed piece for his wife. “I asked the owner to show me around, and we ended up buying the shop,” says Ray.

With a background in drafting and construction, Ray’s skillset lent itself to the specialized techniques of framing all types of art, photos, and memorabilia. He and Mariann enjoy helping their clients select framing and matting materials that will highlight the project and provide long-term preservation of all artwork and treasures.

“We only use acid-free mat boards to preserve the integrity of the artwork and artifacts,” says Ray. The shop specializes in custom matting with materials such as paper, silk, crushed velvet, and mats that mimic wood, or even the color and texture of footballs and basketballs.

Wedding photos, vintage pictures, invitations, and diplomas are frequent framing projects. Ray is also well-versed in framing unusual 3D items like guitars and shadow box keepsakes. “I’ve framed a 6-foot-high English room divider from the 1800s, mirrors, wooden masks, and assorted collections of souvenirs and memorabilia, including a long-distance runner’s marathon photos, medals, and race bibs. I’ve also framed a grouping of basketball cards and New Jersey Nets memorabilia,” he says.

When one of his customers complained that they didn’t have enough wall space for framed items, Ray innovated and constructed coffee tables and end tables with frames built right in--a sample of one is in his shop. They are entirely made of framing material and are photo-ready!

There’s a lot of work involved in each project; for example, needlework pieces must be carefully centered, stretched, and matted. “We bring in additional colors from the mat to enhance and accent the piece,” says Mariann. “Custom matting and framing are what coordinate the look.”

Ray is an admitted perfectionist at his trade. “I can frame just about anything—I can always figure out a way to do it. I prefer to construct it all myself so that I know it is done right. When I’m not happy with it, I start over again. I’ve thrown away a lot of frames that I wouldn’t give to a customer!”

The lesson here is not to let treasured keepsakes gather dust. Recital dance costumes, album covers, racing helmets, concert tickets and posters, articles, magazines, and vintage jewelry can all be turned into works of art with the proper framing.

“I get a lot of satisfaction in it. Everyone leaves here happy,” says Ray. “The best part is when people say, ‘I didn’t expect it to look that good!’”

  • Owners Ray & Mariann Sweeney