“Stunning artwork!", "Colors that seem to jump off the wall." "Simply amazing.” are common phrases heard at Art & Frame Station in Birmingham lately about a relatively new and exciting method of applying dyes to mediums such as aluminum, steel, canvas, Masonite, ceramic, stone and porcelain tile. The process -- called sublimation – is also a scientific term that means transforming a solid to a gas and back to a solid. It’s also a process that produces incredible results on the variety of media mentioned previously.
Art & Frame Station can produce sublimation printing with the capacity to handle large pieces up to 44 inches x 64 inches and we have plans to go even larger... up to 54 inches x 104 inches in the future.
Rachael Clarke, an associate at the Art & Frame Station, says that this process has huge potential. “The process of sublimation printing can be used to produce gorgeous artwork, but it can also be used to create unique tile murals, mosaics and backsplashes that had been hand painted previously,” she said. “For example, a customer can bring a high resolution photo (300 dpi at image size) from their trip to Tuscany, and we can take that photo and produce a tile mural that they can have framed or incorporate into their bathroom wall or even as a custom backsplash. The incredible color and depth of the images are generating a lot of interest from interior designers and architects as well; it’s not just artists and photographers that see the value in this process.”
Sublimation printing is catching on in the world of photography because the colors produced are so rich and vibrant. “And the places where this technology can be applied are almost limitless,” said Clarke. “It can be used for something as simple as making custom dry erase boards for companies, or restaurants and groceries can have their logo and images embedded in them. Restaurants and grocers are using sublimation to produce gorgeous signs that showcase the quality of their food. Offices and banks are using the metal prints because they have no glass to clean and images can be displayed in a multitude of different ways. Hospitals and nursing homes love the fact that the images are easily cleaned, making maintenance a breeze.”
Using sublimation to print large pictures has a huge advantage over standard photo paper in that the substrate (metal, Masonite or tile) is rigid and will not crease, curl or become wavy with age. The process is slightly more expensive than paper printing, but because there is no need for a backing, glass or even a frame, the total cost is actually lower. Clarke does say that more than 50 percent of her customers still want their images framed, preferring to have the piece look more traditional.
“Many of our customers like a very clean look, they want little or no frame showing on their artwork,” Clarke stated. “With this process the art can be hung without a frame because there is no glass needed. We have several hanging methods depending on the customers’ design requirements that we can use to display the artwork and have no frame at all.”
This statement may seem odd coming from the store voted “Best of Detroit” by Hour Magazine in custom framing the past three years, but the Art & Frame Station works very hard to make their customers happy even if that means selling them art that doesn’t need a frame.
Art & Frame Station 215 Peabody St. Birmingham, MI 48009 (248) 540-2555 www.michiganartandframe.com