This is the busiest time of year for Jack Caldwell at The Frame Shop and he relishes it!
"It's the only time of year where everything has a due date," explains Caldwell. This deadline and the pressures to get it all done is exhilarating for him.
But don't be deceived by the name of his newly opened shop on Wall Street. Once you start conversing with the laid back, welcoming craftsman you find that he has many layers that translate into an interesting and eclectic store.
He talks passionately about framing. "Any idea that someone can come in with, we make happen," he said. "There's a thousand different ways to do every single piece somebody brings in."
Popular framing items at this time of year are sentimental mementos including family photographs, service medals and pocket watches. These are framed in shadow boxes, which Caldwell admits is one of the expensive forms of framing.
Yet he is quick to point out that very finely crafted frames have recently become very affordable for custom framing.
"They're less expensive and they're really nice quality frames," said Caldwell. These frames are perfect for photographs and needlepoint. "It's a whole line that I don't think existed for a number of years."
A very special project, Mission: Frame Our Troops, is also underway at the shop. Caldwell is offering free framing of any photographs of men and women in uniform.
According to the shop's website, "This is our way of saying THANK YOU to all our servicemen and woman – their spouses and their families for their incredible sacrifices and to all the moms and dads for their sleepless nights while their kids are in harm's way." While this was scheduled to be until the end of November, yet Caldwell is considering an extension.
Of all the framing Caldwell has done over his 30 years in the business one job stands out as a highlight - framing an original piece of Bach sheet music. "That was amazing for me to do," he remembers."That was quite amazing to work on because I actually got to hold it, I had gloves on, but still standing there holding it, that's pretty amazing!"
Which brings us to the other Jack Caldwell - the musician. As a singer/songwriter he has aspirations of making it big in Nashville and has a guitar, hanging in the shop, always at the ready for bursts of creativity. He is actively sending ideas to Nashville to break into songwriter but admits this is "close to impossible when you live in Connecticut."
The Jack Caldwell Band, although no longer performing live, gathers frequently in Caldwell's basement for recording sessions. At this point, however, he is moving away from singing and more towards songwriting and producing. His band's CD, plus those of other local musicians, including Nicole Frechette, are on sale at The Frame Shop.
These CDs sit atop one of the tables in the shop, handcrafted by Caldwell and available for purchase. Thirty years ago he did an apprenticeship with Bethlehem, CT cabinetmaker Woody Mosch. "I still carry that with me, still love making furniture, built pretty much everything in our house," said Caldwell. "If I can see it, I can build it."
When he is not busy framing, he is honing this love of furniture in his woodworking shop at his home. In addition to making furniture to sell, he takes commissions and is currently working on a table for a Madison women.
While Caldwell finds time to indulge in a myriad of different passions, it is The Frame Shop where he can be found daily and with the Christmas season right around the corner, he is eagerly anticipating the rush that comes along with it.
"Every year is different," said Caldwell. "You either have early Christmases or late Christmases. This is a late Christmas." While most people were concentrating on the election and Super Storm Sandy there was no time to start holiday shopping early, said Caldwell, but that is about to change.
It's fun!" said Caldwell. "I've been doing it for 25 years in Madison, so if I can't handle it" by now, I'm in trouble!"
The Frame Shop
36 Wall Street