You might remember our post on Second Line Frames’ work a few months back – we were really impressed with their product and with the idea behind the salvaged frames made from reclaimed New Orleans housing siding, so we decided to ask them a few questions and got so much more! Thanks to Anika and her family for taking the time to give us such a great interview. Check out Second Line Frames’ etsy store here.
Who are you?
We created Second Line Frames as a way to shed a little hope on what was left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. It stands for a new beginning and cherishes the past at the same time. We salvage wood from homes that were destroyed in the storm and remake it into picture frames that people can use for their own memories. It’s our way of giving something that has been through so much, a new life. The whole idea of our shop is to remind people that there is always something to look forward to, even when you’re looking back.
The name comes from the “Second Line” – a timeless New Orleans tradition. It’s the colorful parade that follows a funeral procession to turn tragedy into a celebration of rebirth.
It was important to us that those who experienced it up close and those of us who watched from afar be able to own a piece of the New Orleans story. We see it as an American tragedy that is significant to all of us. There is a preciousness in the lives we create and the homes we build. And in the wake of destruction, that should not be forgotten. So that’s what we hope to do, reinvigorate the survival part of it all…reclaim what had been disregarded and give it a renewed purpose.
We currently donate ten percent of our proceeds to The Katrina Foundation for Recovery. It’s a relief organization that disburses funds across the Gulf Coast to groups working to rebuild from Hurricane Katrina. Any amount can make a difference when it’s going toward a focused effort like this. If you’d like to learn more, visit www.bandforkatrina.org.
There are four people involved:
Anika Easter: I am an artist, clothing designer and writer living in Tampa, FL. I visualize the design layout of most of the frames and am responsible for putting together most of the tinier frames and mosaics. I also manage the website and all correspondence.
Kris Anderson: Kris owns a boutique called Dunia in Orange Beach, Alabama full of unique home décor and clothing where she also sells the frames. After living in New Orleans for 22 years, she’s definitely got that “flavor” and a great artsy personality because of it. It’s Mom (Kris) that is primarily in charge of collecting the wood. She can spot an amazing piece in a pile of rubbish a mile away.
Terry Easter: Terry is the chief frame maker and a self admitted perfectionist. He has always had a naturally expert hand at anything he’s picked up, whether it’s a basketball, golf club, tool or cooking utensil. So it was no surprise that frame-making came just as naturally!
Michael: Michael takes care of Second Line Frames’ more intricate layouts, and is also our resident mathematician – the go-to-guy for frame symmetry.
When did you start doing this?
We haven’t been doing Second Line Frames long at all. Actually, we just started in January of this year!
Where did you get your inspiration for making frames out reclaimed frame siding from damaged Hurricane Katrina homes? Where does the material come from? Do you have to get permission to use the materials?
In the several times we went back to New Orleans within the first two years after the hurricane, we couldn’t quite get over the shock of how much was still left to be done, although with each visit, it was getting better. We’d see an old restaurant had finally reopened, or a whole family energetically taking on a fresh remodel. The street music was starting up again. Night life was coming back. But on the other hand, there was that pile of debris you’d see where there was once a quaint old house. Or that completely empty lot roped off with construction tape. Or stains of flood water levels up to the windows on homes throughout entire neighborhoods. And that was unsettling. We all felt an unignorable inclination to do something. We wanted to create something that could give back to the cause while at the same time giving people something to hold onto. Luckily, we found something we could all do together.
We’re people who, if it’s possible, try to find something beautiful where you don’t expect to see it. We all love walking the French Quarter and seeing the amazing walls down there, layers and layers of paint, so delightful, and colorfully complex in their history. That’s what the wood is like. Years and years of bright new paint colors. All the times it was given a fresh start. All that it survived. That’s what we find so valuable.
What is your process for producing the frames?
We get the wood by driving up and down the streets of New Orleans. All the wood we collect has either already been put into piles for trash pickup or we get permission from a family currently doing renovations. They have always been more than happy to give us the wood, and often, would like us to haul away more than we can carry.
One thing we are committed to doing sometime in the future is to give a frame back to the original person we got the wood from so they can have a preserved piece of their old house. That would be a fantastic moment!
As far as cleaning it goes, we wash it down through and through with a bleach and disinfectant solution, then lay it outside until it dries thoroughly in the sun. We sand it to remove any loose paint and to reveal some of the underlying layers, then seal it with a satin varnish.
When it comes to the designs, we pick out a plank of wood and think about what would best fit it, not how it would fit into our design. The wood inspires the frame. Sometimes we use the tiny leftover pieces to make mosaics. We try to maximize the wood we have and the dimensions of each frame are based on the most we could get out of each piece, in an attempt to produce as little waste as possible.
Why frames (as opposed to furniture, etc)?
Frames seemed only natural as a way to preserve a memory. They also allow for people to include their own personal touch and make it their own. We have a few ideas for other products too, though. So keep an eye out…there very well may be more items coming soon.