When it comes to presenting and protecting art and precious photos, don’t sell yourself short.
“People have a misconception that going to a framing shop is an expensive option,” said Marianne Ruiz, who owns Ballantyne Framing & Art on 220 Craven St. in Downtown New Bern with her partner, Mary Kay Bills. “There is savings, though. You are not paying the middle man to build frames and cut mats and assemble. This adds flexibility and savings to the customer.”
Besides being experienced, professional, and knowledgeable, Mary Kay and Marianne care about customers and love what they do. That’s something money can’t buy.
Looking at a wall in a framing shop with an untrained eye can be daunting. However, Mary Kay and Marianne are adept at helping you navigate all those choices. They learn about your preferences and ideas, then make choices and adjustments based on your input.
“It is important that the client feel part of the process,” said Marianne.
They have all the looks you want. Because of New Bern’s history, the framing they do is mostly traditional but the store also offers contemporary options.
Mary Kay says that the most unusual things they have been asked to frame are a rattlesnake tail and chaps.
“But mainly we frame people’s precious things that they can’t replace,” she said.
Anything that is important to you is worth being framed.
“Posters and kids’ art are wonderful items to frame,” said Marianne.
- Ballantyne Framing & Art is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Follow them on Facebook.
- 220 Craven St, New Bern, NC
The store has a wide range of prices, and can participate in any single part of the framing process, or all of it. Many clients choose classic frames that stand the test of time, and then redo the mats when styles change or they want to change or update the color scheme.
The store also does a lot of restorative work.
The partners love framing because every job is different, and involves a lot of problem solving. Marianne says that it is difficult and creative at the same time.
“Microscopic decisions like whether a double mat of ¼ inch or 3/16 of an inch is used make a big difference to the trained eye,” Marianne said.
Mary Kay, who is the store’s needlework framing specialist, said, “We complement each other when we work together on difficult assignments. We use each other’s strengths.”
They agree that their favorite part of the job is wondering what challenge will come through the door each day.
Both got their starts working under the original Ballantyne store on Middle Street in the eighties and nineties. Mary Kay bought the shop in 1998. In 2009, she sold the business to an art materials store called Bear Hands, and they operated the framing business through that business entity. But in 2013, they bought the store back, becoming partners.
They resumed using the old logo, reclaimed the old phone number, and moved to Craven Street.
After being in the business together for 25 years, Mary Kay and Marianne are close friends and love coming to work every day.
“The shop is a refuge, and it helps with mental acuity,” said Marianne.
Marianne said that framing is a lot like giving a makeover. You start with one thing and you have many different solutions.
“It is satisfying to have a mental concept of the design you want, and work toward it,” Marianne said. “Every step of the process, there is satisfaction in seeing it come together.”
The store also features paintings from several well-known local artists.