John Arrowsmith’s c1840 Map “Maritime Portion of South Australia”

We have for sale this beautiful and important original antique map of South Australia by John Arrowsmith. “The Maritime Portion of South Australia, from Captn Flinders & from more recent surveys made by the Survr Genl of the Colonies by John Arrowsmith.” “London, Published Feby. 5th 1840 … 10 Soho Square.” It includes the City of Adelaide and North Adelaide, Nepean and Encounter Bays.

The archival quality framing features matting with Italian marbled paper and a gold leaf band with seven ink lines. The piece is framed in an Italian teak frame and glazed with Museum Glass for 99% UV protection and amazing clarity.

Outside Frame Size: 95cm x 85cm

Price: AU$3,995

John Arrowsmith (1790–1873) was an English geographer (mapmaker) and member of the Arrowsmith family of geographers. He was born at Winston, County Durham.

In 1810 he joined his uncle Aaron Arrowsmith in his mapmaking business in London. In 1821, they published a map of North America using a combination of maps obtained from the Hudson’s Bay Company and Aaron’s own previous work. After his uncle died in 1823, the business was carried on by his sons, Aaron and Samuel Arrowsmith, until 1839 when John Arrowsmith took over the business. In 1834 John published his London Atlas, which were the best set of such maps then in existence. He followed the atlas with a long series of elaborate and carefully executed maps, those of Australia, America, Africa and India being especially valuable. In 1863 he received the gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society, of which body he was one of the founders.

For more information and details of this map (1840/1) visit –

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The French Matting Revolution – Part II

A resurgence in the beautiful art of French Matting is taking hold of framers all across the globe, and it’s very exciting for so many reason!

“French Matting” is described as an ancient technique using pale watercolor wash panels and drawn ink lines around the perimeter of a matted piece of art. The lines and panels around the image draw the eye inward, repeating the delicacy and contrasts of the artwork.



Add some exotic marbled and gold leaf paper to the mix…and you have a truly unique, custom frame design!


What’s most exciting is that this ancient technique is not only limited to antique prints, photographs and lithographs, it can also be applied to modern works on paper – all the while adding value to your finished framed artwork.


So ask your framer about “French Matting” the next time you visit their store. I’m sure they’d love to create a design, especially for you!

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The French Matting Revolution


As fashion and home decor trends keep evolving and changing, so do trends in our picture framing industry.

One that immediately comes to mind is the oversized matboards that were a big art statement in the 1980′s and 1990′s.  I often refer to the big shoulder pads that were also popular at the time.  Art and home decor trends always seem to reflect the fashions of the day.

A new “trend” started for me a few months ago, when one of my customers walked in with a little antique etching and pointed to my French matted fish hanging on the wall – “I want you to do it like that!” she said.

Honestly, I cringed!

That particular piece was one I had created a couple of years ago, testing my French matting skills.  French Matting is defined as “An ancient technique using pale watercolour wash panels and ink lines around the perimeter of a matted piece of art.  Artists created borders of lines and panels around their images to draw the eye inward, repeating the delicacy and contrasts of the images.”

All my lines were drawn by hand, the gold leaf band was painstakingly masked with tape, directly onto the board, a layer of red clay applied – shellac – gold leaf size – gold leaf – shellac. The tape then removed, all the while I was hoping and praying that the edges were clean.  Thankfully, they were.  The watercolour wash was then applied, a bit patchy I’ll admit, but the overall effect was pretty good.  Phew!


Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d have to attempt something like that again anytime soon.  But then, I should have known better.  My customers are brilliant at pushing me and that creative boundary – the very reason why we love this industry SO much!

There had to be an easier way though.

Having recently purchased the Gunnar T2 Pen Tool, the latest addition to my beloved Gunnar F1 Computerized Mat Cutter, the French matting lines were as easy as the click of a button.  I bought every pigment pen in every colour imaginable.

gunnar screen

Gunnar screen shot


I then worked out a way to make gold leaf paper and cut it precisely into strips, applying it finished – to create the gold leaf band.

Instead of applying a watercolour wash, I opted for strips of beautiful marbled paper.  Sourced from around the globe, they range from fine, muted and detailed, to colourful, vibrant and bold.



I have always been a “details” person, even back when I was a bridal gown designer.  As a framer, I truly believe that if you never take the time to think, and design something thoroughly with your customers,  you’ll never have the opportunity to create it.

So…why not start your own fashion trend?  The next time your customer comes in with an artwork you think will suit, try it out.  Get creative – it’s 2014!

…and be sure to check out all our latest designs at

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We’re in Picture Framing Magazine!

Things just keep getting better here in our little gallery in North Adelaide, South Australia. We have recently been featured in the May edition of Picture Framing Magazine, the world-wide publication based in the USA for the picture framing industry. Click here to see the full article by framing Guru, Jared Davis MCPF, GCF.

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New Computerized Pen Tool

We have just installed the brand new Gunnar T2 Scribe Tool to our amazing Computerized Mat Cutter.  This takes traditional French Matting to a whole new level – any design in any colour can be drawn right onto the matboard, all with perfect precision as only the Swiss know how.

Call in with your designs, and see it working for yourself!

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How to Stretch Your Needlework

Why not save some money on framing and stretch your own needlework? 
Here are some simple instructions to show you how.

How to Stretch Your Needle Art

1) Cut a piece of acid free fomecore (we use Bainbridge Alphamat Artcare) or matboard to stretch the needle art onto. The size of this board should be approximately 25mm or 1″ bigger than the opening in the matboard. For example, if the needle art you want to see is 20cm x 15cm (8″ x 6″) this is the size of the opening in the matboard.  Cut the board to stretch the needle art onto 22.5cm x 17.5cm (9″ x 7″).

2) Centre your needle art onto the board.
Turn the work over, and work from the back. Fold the two longest edges over the board. Using a needle with a continuous thread (preferably 100% cotton thread) insert the needle 15mm from the edge of the fabric. Lace from one edge to the other, trying to keep the stitches parallel, approximately 1cm apart. When you get to the end, tie the thread with a knot, leaving the other end still attached to the reel of cotton.


3) Check the front of the work to make sure that it is still centred.  Tension the threads at the back, working from the knot backwards, being careful not to pull them too tightly, otherwise the thread might break. In case the thread does break, just re-join it with a small knot and continue. Check the front of the work once again, and when you are happy with the position, cut the thread attached to the reel of cotton and firmly tie with a knot to the needle art. Adjust the front again if necessary.

4) Fold the two short ends over, and using the same process, continue to complete the stretching of your needle art.

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Art and Photo Restoration

Art and photograph restoration is a very specialised area, and should only be handled by qualified professionals.

Our Art Conservator, Chris Payne of  The Art Conservation Studios, is a fellow member of the AICCM (Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials) and is also employed part-time by Artlab Australia.
Artlab’s team of qualified conservators provide specialised preservation and restoration services for all works of art and historic items. Established in 1985, Artlab Australia is a South Australian Government business enterprise. Their laboratories are amongst the largest and best equipped in Australia. 

Our Photograph Conservator and Restorer, Alan Lesheim, is without a doubt the best in Australia.  With over 40 years experience, Alan uses both film and digital techniques to restore and re-create beautiful photographs, where the end results are second to none and are guaranteed to last 100 years plus.

Here are some “Before and After” examples.
photo restoration

photo restoration

photo restoration

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