Framer finds her passion
Mia Frama's Cherise Miller completes works of art in Springdale
Her delicate hands work confidently as Cherise Miller assembles a frame.
Beneath a prayer flag with the emblems of several religions, and surrounded by photographs, paintings and the tools of her trade, the professional framer, who works out of a room in the Historic Springdale School, is living her passion. Artists and photographers from around the region flock to her Mia Frama studio to have their work accentuated.
It is easy to see why. Miller has hundreds of styles of frames in her cozy space and 20 years of experience in framing. But it is her manner of inquiry that yields the best results, she says.
Before choosing a frame, the soft-spoken Miller gets to know clients to find out their tastes, lifestyle and the aesthetic of their homes. Some people know exactly what they want; others simply hand over the framing subject and trust her experience.
Visual from the beginning
As child growing up in Southern California and Ashland, she gravitated toward sports and art.
'I was always a very visual person,' Miller says. 'I like making things look good.'
At 19, she started Birds of a Feather, an Ashland clothing store that offered vintage outfits from the Victorian era up through the 1940s. She fell in love with framing after a busy Ashland frame shop asked her to help out, and the entrepreneurial skills she learned in her first business came in handy when she opened Mia Frama three years ago.
Miller learned about the Springdale space during a chance conversation at a now-closed bakery. The Corbett School District, which oversees the historic school, leased her the room, which wasn't much to look at in the beginning. She says the former storage space was dusty and filled with old computers.
Miller, as secretary of the Springdale School Community Association, has played a role in the building's renaissance. The association is taking over management and restoration duties from the school district, and volunteers have repaired the roof, put on fresh coats of paint and completed other renovations. The Corbett Children's Theater occupies most of the building, which is also home to a couple of artist studios.
The cozy space and mellow vibe has allowed Miller to fulfill her dream 'of choosing a lifestyle and being able to live it.
'Once (framing) gets in your blood, you can't get it out,' she says. 'I absolutely love it.'
Miller frames a good deal of the artwork of Gresham business owners Judy and Sunny Han and many of the works at Yoshida's Fine Art Gallery in the Pearl District, where she was a manager before opening Mia Frama. Her work has also appeared in summer art shows at the Classical Chinese Garden in downtown Portland, and she recently framed more than 30 pieces for a recent show by the photographer Thomas Kiefer.
Many of her clients are longtime customers or learn about her through word-of-mouth. One woman even flew in from Spokane, Wash., to work with Miller.
There is no limit to what can be framed, she says, ticking off a list of items she has worked with, including T-shirts, dresses and baby shoes. The goal is to add to the centerpiece and 'make it complete so it can be on the walls and enjoyed.'
In completing art, she has also made her life complete. Mia Frama has allowed her to create her own reality and thrive, she says.
'Framing is really, really important,' Miller says. 'It surrounds (clients') art and that enriches their lives.
'It enhances artwork and that's the beauty of it.'
For more information
Who: Cherise Miller, owner of Mia Frama
What: Custom framing
Where: 32405 E. Columbia River Highway, Springdale
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday (closed for lunch 1 to 2 p.m.)