Doing it his own way

MARSHALL – Steven Smisek has always been interested in photography. But when he started printing his photos, sometimes in odd sizes and aspect ratios, he found a hard time finding affordable frames that would fit his work.

“I was frustrated with what was available and the high cost,” Smisek said. “So I started making my own.”

Smisek took old frames, pieces of trim from the Re-Store and other secondhand materials to create fitting frames for his art.

“Everything I use for the frames are from reclaimed wood,” Smisek said. “And the Southwest Glass center custom-cuts out any glass I need.”

Creating the frames came easy to Smisek who was familiar with woodworking, “But the trickiest part is the corners,” he said.

Matting his art was another expensive process that he tried to work around at first. Instead of mats, Smisek spray-painted the glass for a matted effect, but he wasn’t happy with the result, so he purchased his own matting tools and equipment.

“I started making frames for my upcoming photo show at the Daily Grind,” Smisek said, “and then I thought I could make it a side business.” Smisek is currently a manager at the Marshall Kmart. “I want to do this as a fun side venture, but I’m also looking for a full-time job.”

Smisek worked up a spreadsheet estimate system that will price frames by size, needed materials and time. He also figured he should open a bank account for the business.

“I was sitting in the bank parking for 10 minutes, trying to think of a business name for the account because I knew they would ask for one,” he said. That’s when the idea of Steven’s “Off the Wall” came to him.

Smisek’s frames are very different than what you would find on most stores. He uses many different colors of paints and stain, will distress the wood by sanding it and has been experimenting with different spray paint and smearing techniques to create unique frames.

“I try to match the frame to the personality of the picture,” Smisek said.

He recently made a picture frame for the Daily Grind, where he did work on the front window boxes earlier this year and used reclaimed trim that he removed from the front windows for the piece. Smisek said that if someone had some pieces of wood that were sentimental to him/her, he could easily use the material to make a special custom frame.

His business’ first introduction to the public will be at Thursdays on Third July 10. The street fair is held from 4-7 p.m. every Thursday starting in July and concluding at the annual Sounds of Summer festival. Smisek will also have an art show featuring his frames and photography throughout the month of July at the Daily Grind on Main Street in Marshall.