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Business Spotlight: Schmidt’s Custom Framing

September 29, 2020

Business Spotlight: Schmidt’s Custom Framing 

Schmidt’s Custom Framing co-owner Harvey Schmidt has always liked working with his hands. After pursuing photography as a hobby, Harvey found himself building picture frames for his parents. He enjoyed making frames so much that he began to attend seminars and conferences on the subject.

During those early days, the shop’s other owner Mary Schmidt, worked for Crow Indian artist, Penni Anne Cross, in Billings, Montana. 

“Harvey and I produced her limited prints and sold many of them throughout the U.S.,” Mary recalls. Then one day Penni suggested Harvey frame some of her work. She even sent him to his first national conference in New Orleans. There was no doubt that Harvey had the frame of mind for this type of creative work.

But the couple felt they couldn’t make a living framing art in Billings and that they would have to find a town with a thriving arts community. So, they traveled through the west searching for the right place, not too far from home and family, to build their frame business. Soon they found just that in Jackson.

Mary and Harvey opened their custom frame shop, Schmidt’s Custom Framing, in the fall of 1987, six months after the National Museum of Wildlife Art (then called Wildlife of the American West Art Museum), opened down the street.

“Our first shop was on the opposite end of Center Street,” Harvey recalls. “When I was building my frame shop, I called Dan Provost, who I believe was the Museum’s Director at the time and quizzed him on climate control as I tried to figure out the proper way to do things.” The couple has worked with the curatorial staff over the years as well.

One of the premiums in the frame business is gold leaf frames. The gold frames are made through a process called gold leafing which involves the application of very thin and fragile sheets of imitation or real gold on the frame. Several of the gold leaf frames at Schmidt’s Custom Framing are Harvey’s own design.

“They are the ultimate in our industry and we’ve built quite a reputation for doing that type of work,” Harvey says.

A Labor of Love

The Schmidts’ have earned a sterling reputation across their 33 years. 

“This is a good industry to be in if you are picky about the way you do things,” Mary says with a smile.  “Like today, I was working on a piece and there was a little black thread sitting in there and I said, well that is not going to do! And corners, we are very particular about how the corners look on a frame. Most people don’t notice it, but we do, so we try to make them as perfect as possible. “We spend way more time on things than we should, but that’s how we want to do this.” 

Mary says that not a lot of frame shops in other cities, with the exception of New York and Los Angeles, get to frame the quality of art that they do in Jackson. “We are so fortunate because our clients are wonderful people and the artwork here is unreal.” With more than 30 years in business the Schmidts are proud of their success. 

And for these reasons Schmidt’s Custom Framing has sponsored the Museum’s most celebrated fundraiser, Western Visions, for the past several years.

“We have an arts centered community that has a wonderful resource in the Museum. So it’s important to us that we support it, that we give back.” Harvey says.

Visit them online here.

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