The P. H. Miller Studio, now located in Berryville, VA specializes in making handmade fine gilded and carved frames for art and mirrors. Peter Miller, recently relocated from Woodbury, CT has spent the past 30 plus years in the business designing and creating frames for clients around the country. Starting back in the early 1980’s, Peter Miller offered just a few handmade frames in simple style and uncomplicated finishes. His business was focused more on offering clients the vast world of commercially made moldings. It was those early years when Mr. Miller honed is design skills and techniques for handling artwork properly and professionally whether it was a child’s drawing or expensive oils on canvas. In those early years, clients would come to the frame shop and occasionally ask for finished corner frames. Through research, Mr. Miller found in nearby NYC, several factories or production houses that were, in fact, the handmade frames that his clients were requesting. This became a major focus of the business, helping the frame shop to stand apart from all of the regional competition. While there was a financial satisfaction and his clients were very pleased with the “new” offerings of water gilded frames, Mr. Miller became increasingly interested in the art of applying gold leaf. So with the help of Mr. Miller’s Gallery Director, Michael Coleman, and his contacts in NY, Mr. Miller began to seek out the best gilders practicing in the country at the time. He joined the Society of Gilders and studied with several gilders throughout the US. Along with workshops, Mr. Miller visited museums both here and in Europe to further his understanding not only of the history and beauty of the gilded surface but also in the way these surfaces wore and survived over time. All of this information was vitally important to Mr. Miller as he furthered his skills in preparing surfaces for gilding, applying gold leaf and how to “age” and tone the gilded surface to convincingly replicate frames several centuries old.
Over time, Mr. Miller began to replace the samples and offerings from the Gilded Frame Production houses with his own frame offerings. While Mr. Miller does create many contemporary styles of frames, he takes his inspiration from history. Now all of the frames that are seen in the showroom of the P. H.
Miller Studio represent the range of work that Mr. Miller does. “Like my predecessors from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, presentation of art work is vitally important. I am always striving to achieve the marriage between painting and frame. These American frame makers from that period were inspired by the followings of the Arts and Crafts Movement originating in Europe in the latter half of the 19th century. For the most part these craftsmen/artists, now both famous for their paintings and their frames, learned the art of carving and ancient techniques of water gilding. They were not afraid to experiment with design, take from history and push the boundaries of accepted design to create a new benchmark which is truly American.”
Of course the handmade frame production houses are still in operation and provide some beautiful frames but there are only a few frame-makers in the US now who work in this artisan spirit involved and skilled in every aspect of the process. Shortly after Mr. Miller’s daughter, who was the business manager and gallery director after graduating from college, announced that she was moving to Loudoun County, Mr. Miller and his daughter phased out the gallery side of the business so that in the years going forward the studio would be focused solely on frame making. The studio showroom in Berryville, demonstrates the marriage of painting and frame with paintings that are often from the Miller’s collection but also occasionally with paintings that are available for sale with an original Miller Studio Frame.
Studio Hours: Tuesday through Saturday. 10:00 – 5:30, Sunday and Monday by chance or appointment.
Website: www.phmiller.com, phone 540-955-3939
Please check the Miller Studio website for upcoming workshops teaching traditional water gilding.