Meet the residents: Free Range Frames
Katharine Richards of Free Range Frames has been a Bone Yard resident since March 2016. She offers made-to-measure picture framing, fine art framing (including some fancy, specialist things like float mounting, cold press dry mounting and spline fixings).
She also makes handmade photo frames and commissions from reclaimed wood and hardwoods.
Free Range Frames started in 2014 in Kath’s kitchen. She says, “I worked out that I had at the very least another 25 years left to work. It was that realisation that made me admit to myself that I hated my job and needed to make a big life change. I started Free Range Frames in my kitchen, with a few basic hand tools and some bits of wood.”
Kath then moved the business to a friend’s garage for six months, then to another friend’s spare office, before coming across The Bone Yard during an Internet search for workshop spaces.
“I was so excited when I discovered it, because the shipping container workshops are really cool and I love that it’s a community, with other makers and crafters,” she says. “I was even more excited when, after only having only been on the waiting list for two weeks, I was invited to have a look at a unit that had become available.”
Going full time – and container number two
Signing up for a Bone Yard container turned out to be a good move for Free Range Frames. “My business started to grow rapidly as soon as I moved in here. I love it. It’s full of colour and birdsong – it’s in the heart of the city but can be so peaceful. I love how enthusiastic people are about it when they discover it.”
Since then Kath has gone full time and expanded the business into a second container. She says that her biggest success so far is having achieved the goal she set herself for the start of 2017 – she’s working for herself, in her own business, full-time, “doing something that I absolutely love to do”.
There have been challenges and steep learning curves along the way – from mastering new techniques to learning how to cut glass accurately without smashing it to pieces! – but Kath loves the fact that she is constantly developing her skills. She says, “There are a few framers out there who are inspirational for me. I see what they do and the work they create and it reinforces my desire to keep trying to improve and to keep pushing myself to do new things.”
What’s next for Free Range Frames?
Kath’s latest offering for clients is dowel and spline fixing of frames. These are more secure methods of fixing frames than underpinning with metal V nails – plus they are more attractive and can add an extra decorative touch. They can either be made from wood that will blend in with the wood of the frame or they can be of a contrasting wood and add a decorative feature to it.
Her next project is to practise making her own picture frame mouldings from timber. “I’ve very recently had some rough cut timbers delivered to the workshop so I can make my own picture frame moulding. Because they’re rough cut I have to plane them, saw them, dimension them and then profile them, which is great fun.
"It’s something I’ve done before, but now with my second container I’ve got room for machinery that makes it more practicable to offer as an option for clients.”
Having discovered that it is possible to take a completely new direction in life and create a life you love, Kath is keen to encourage anyone with a dream to go for it.
“There will always be reasons not to do something, excuses, and distractions. Ignore them. If there’s a thing you have a passion for and you want to do it, do it now. Your life isn’t going to wait until your debts are paid off or the children are grown up or whatever, your life is happening right now!
“Having said that, you need to be flexible. You can start your own business and still keep your full-time job. When I was working in my old job I would get up an hour earlier every day to work on my frames. In one week that was equivalent to a whole day working on my business. Do it in the evenings, at weekends.... it’s tiring, but every hour will get you closer to where you want to be.”
Get in touch with Katharine
If you have something you’d like framed, or you’d like to discuss a special commission, you can get in touch via Free Range Frames’ website or on social media. Kath offers free quotes to all customers, with no obligation, so please get in touch to discuss your requirements.