Side Street Framers

There’s more to picture framing than putting mere wood around a canvas--it takes an artist’s eye to really get it right. “Framing is about art, and you’re building things with your hands and it’s creative and you’re designing, so it fits--it fits well for all of us,” says artist Dawn Wilson, daughter of Barbara Daniels, “There’s a lot of design that goes into each piece.”  And with an artist daughter, Barbara figured that framing would be the right kind of business for her family. 

Barbara had been in the floor covering industry for twenty years, both retail and wholesale, and had a wealth of experience running a business but wanted to find something that would work for her and her daughters as a family business.  After exploring various options, she came to realize that framing offered not just a business that all three daughters could work together, but a creative outlet for their artistic natures. 

Sandy and Donna, who worked for the first three years with sister Dawn building Side Street Framers into a profitable business, now work in their chosen field of psychology, and when Dawn’s husband’s job took her to Reno, Nevada, Barbara stepped in.  Now, sixteen years later, Dawn and family are happily returned to Maryland and she, Stephanie--a long-time assistant--and Barbara are the architects of Side Street Framers continued success.  It’s definitely a labor of love, Barbara says, clearly happy that her daughters have made way for her participation at Side Street as they all pursue their own work.  “It’s fun,” both women say.

Walk in the door of Side Street Framers in Severna Park and you’ll see not only the frame and mat samples, but art everywhere you look.  Framed prints fill spaces on the walls not taken up with the tools of the trade; handcrafted jewelry from LouiLoui Designs is artfully displayed in cases near the workroom door; Beaumont pottery and Breezy Willow Farm’s hand-made soaps share a large display case immediately ahead as you walk in;  Nadina’s cremes and Mood Passion teas from Mood Factory round out the display of local talent that Barbara likes to showcase.  Shadow boxes--Side Street Framers pieces de resistance--displaying a treasured baseball, an antique demitasse, a sand dollar mounted with a print of itself, hard-won blue and red ribbons, catch your eye among the prints and possibilities on the walls, demonstrating the framers’ art.

A golden light bulb fastened to the top of a clear plastic cube that rests next to the workroom door will spark your curiosity, and if you look closely inside you’ll see a small container of deoderant in a sea of confetti.  It is the “Inspiration/Persperation Award” from First Night Annapolis, given to Barbara in 1993 for wands imaginatively--and magically?-- framed in a shadow box. Nearly hidden on the back wall is another of Barbara’s awards.  The Severna Park Chamber of Commerce named Barbara Daniels of Side Street Framers, “Woman In Business Advocate of the Year, 2000.” 

A new group of pictures that Barbara just hung are prints by Klimt which she matted with coordinating fabric and framed in identical gold frames.  Fabric is one of Barbara’s loves: her first job was at a fabric store and she made all the clothes, then, for the store.  She still loves to spend time rooting around in fabric stores, and it was on a recent foray at Jo-Ann’s that she found a box of coordinated fabric remnants--the idea of making these coordinating pictures for Side Street Framers blended her two loves perfectly.

In addition to their expertise in shadow-box framing, Side Street Framers is committed to conservation framing.   They feel strongly that each customer’s work of art should be preserved as carefully as possible, and to that end use archival-quality material in their framing.  Whether it’s a favorite painting, or an ancestor’s wedding gown--which Barbara stitched to the backing of the shadow box in which it was framed--Side Street Framers makes sure that it will be protected and preserved for the future.

Barbara knows the importance of framing for the appearance of art as well as the conservation.  “You can make a picture be a sunny day or a rainy day, you can make it a happy scene or a not-so-happy.  You can make it anything you want just by the choice of your colors and your materials, so we work with our customers trying to find out what they’re looking for and then guide them in the direction.  And we know what’s available,” Barbara says, with a smile.  Understanding what her customers want to do with their art and the space in which they plan to use it, are some of Barbara’s strongest skills.  Understanding what she can do with the art that’s given to her to frame has come from experience, studying, and long hours of work.

And those long hours are just what Barbara Daniels wants.  Going into Side Street Framers is something she looks forward to every day--rather than work, “it’s fun,” she says.  That spirit of fun and enjoyment is evident throughout the store, in the spirit of the designs and the happiness of the women who work there.

Side Street Framers is located at 558 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park; phone, 410.544.9050.  You can find them on the web at:


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