Framer focuses on bringing out best of art, photographs

Stacy Scull, 33, assembles a frame at her Rua Framing and Design shop at Islands Art Gallery, 1985 Folly Road. Scull loves the creativity associated with her job and said her task is to help 'bring out the best' in the works that artists and photographers bring to her.

If you walked away after meeting Stacy Scull saying, "I've been framed," you probably were very proud to say so.

Scull, 33, of Mount Pleasant owns and operates Rua Framing and Design, which has outlets on James Island and in downtown Charleston. After gaining experience working in other area framing shops, Scull launched her own enterprise in 2008. She said the "creative aspect," plus opportunities to get to know local artists and photographers and other clients, is what she likes best about her work.

Dictionaries define rua as an ancient word for red. And for Scull, "a redhead all my life," rua seemed to be the perfect name for her business, she explained.

Scull said a framer's task is to highlight the best aspects of the painting or photo to be framed. She said she often asks customers what it is in their art or photo they want to bring out.

"It's all about enhancing the art, not being the major focus," she said of framing. "I get to create something that's going to enhance someone's artwork."

Scull said she gets a great many repeat customers, and that it's especially pleasing to her when customers say she can choose from among the many frame types, textures and colors with which to surround a work of art.

"It's such a great compliment when they say, 'I trust you, pick something and let me know,' " she added.

Rua's services are available at Islands Art Gallery, 1985 Folly Road, and at Audella Studios at 47 Spring St. in Charleston. The company's website states that framing can be done for "everything and anything from family heirlooms, to Lowcountry oil paintings, or the latest from contemporary local artists. ... No job is too little or too big for Rua Framing and Design. We replace glass and we shadowbox the rarest of keepsakes."

A Mississippi native, Scull came to South Carolina to study at Clemson University and then at the College of Charleston. While pursuing a fine art degree at the college, she went to work at a frame shop. While learning the skills to be a framemaker, Scull had a revelation.

"I really love photography, and I really got into framing when I realized I could save a lot of money doing my own framing," she said.

Scull said her desire to have her own shop almost didn't materialize. Original plans to open downtown fell through at the last minute, but she pushed on. "I had put so much work into it, I just did it on my own. I was going to make it happen," she said.

At one time, Scull met clients at the Folly Road gallery but did her framing at the Spring Street workshop. But now she has tools and saws at Folly Road, too.

There are a great many types of wood, styles, cuts, colors and textures for a framer to choose from, Scull said.

Occasionally, she finds the need to create something new. One memorable job, Scull said, was creating matching frames for a set of 4-by-5-foot antique mirrors.

"They had one and needed four more to match."

Because her machines weren't large enough for the cuts needed, Scull had to have wood for the frames milled elsewhere. Though a challenge, the project came together well, she said.

"They were so heavy, it took two of us just to stand them up," she said of the framed mirrors. But the customer was very pleased, she added.

While loving her job, Scull said, she'd like to get into handmade home items. "I'll just make whatever I'm in the spirit to make that day, and sell it that way, she said.

But, "I will always be interested in framing."