Girl on the Hill Framing

Girl on the Hill Framing

Despite our sophistication, we continue a practice of our cave-dwelling ancestors: placing mementos on walls. Crude paintings of wild beasts have yielded to diplomas, medals, and photographs, but the intent is the same. Girl on the Hill Framing in Bethlehem specializes in crafting artful displays for them.

Owner Dawn Moser traces her artistic roots to her childhood years. “I grew up in an artsy family,” she said. “Both of my parents were involved with music and art, and my maternal grandfather was a woodworker. I was always around creative people.”

Her high school art teacher recognized and encouraged her talents, and she later earned an Associate of Fine Arts degree from Northampton Community College, followed by a Bachelor of Science in Art Education from Kutztown University.

Later, she served as visual arts and education coordinator and assistant gallery director at ArtsQuest, and spent several years creating custom frames at Dan’s Camera City in Allentown and Friendship Framing in Bath, among other jobs.

After accruing 20 years of experience, “I decided it was time to branch out on my own,” she said. Husband and professional photographer, Ryan Hulvat, often shoots weddings, so starting a complementary framing business was essentially a no-brainer.

“We’ve been here [645 N. New St., Bethlehem] for about three years,” she said. “Our space had been Joe Pasco’s shoe repair shop for many years—he still drops in to visit us from time to time. It felt good to move into a space that had already been devoted to handcrafting.”

Even the shop’s name is significant. “My family has owned the same plot of land since the 1750s, when our state was still known as ‘Penn’s Woods.’ The family originally lived at the top of the hill but eventually moved down the slope. I have two younger brothers and all the other neighbor children back then were boys, too. So that made me the only ‘girl on the hill,’” she said.

A sense of nostalgia permeates the shop with its displays of antique and vintage frames, mirrors and hand-blown glassware, assorted retro cameras and many other items. “Ryan and I collected much of it while traveling,” Moser said. “Some of it’s for sale, some are just personal treasures.”

Moser takes a traditional approach to framing. For every project, each piece of the frame is measured and sawed by hand. “I work with only wood or metal,” she said. “No plastics and no materials that won’t last. I want my framing work to hang on your walls for generations.”

Even the glass is carefully considered. ”Archival glass comes in many forms,” she said. “Some have a UV coating; others have anti-reflection properties. And if you have active children, we might suggest using acrylic sheeting instead of glass, to help avert accidental breakage.”

Throughout the process, Moser relies on every conservation method she can: low-acid virgin alpha cellulose or rag-paper mat boards, handsewn glue-less construction—even using proper ventilation in special circumstances.

But modern technology also has its place. “We have a computer-controlled mat cutter that lets us precisely cut squares, circles, ovals, diamonds, stars, and other shapes in multiple locations,” Moser said.

And practically anything can go into those frames. Girl on the Hill works with the usual artworks, paintings, mirrors, and photographs, as well as needlepoint works and old quilts. Custom-built shadowboxes are used for three-dimensional objects, and those have ranged from military medals, sports jerseys, and baptismal gowns, to a 15-foot-long Japanese silk obi (which required precise folding to fit within a 60-inch box).

One such project sticks in her mind. “One of my clients volunteers for Veteran Affairs and other organizations, and her son had served in the military. She brought in charred pieces of an American flag that had hung on his porch, and told me that it was all that was saved when their home burned to the ground.

“She told me that the flag had survived a lot of heartache, and wanted to preserve the remnants for her son. After the flag was properly decommissioned, I handstitched it in a shadow box. But burnt objects in closed containers can produce off-gases that damage frames, so I included proper ventilation in the design,” she said.

“My client told me later that they’d rebuilt the house on the same lot, and that the framed flag was the first thing they’d hung in the new home.”

One of her current projects began with a delivery straight from Australia of a rolled-up 38” x 48” painting on canvas. Girl on the Hill Framing will stretch it onto custom-made stretcher bars, and then design and build a float frame for presentation (no word on where it’s going after it leaves the shop!).

“We truly strive to create something special for our clients, so they can be amazingly happy,” she said. “Why keep something you love in a box or a drawer, when you can frame it and share it with everyone? Frame what you love.” 

Girl on the Hill Framing

645 N. New St Bethlehem

Tues. – Sat. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sun. – Mon. by appointment only

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