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Going for the Gold
Preserving a momento from an
Olympic triumph is a medal-worthy effort

Michael Phelps' U of M training swim trunks
Some events are so extraordinary they must be commemorated with something equally impressive. When Michael Phelps won his eighth Olympic gold medal of the Beijing Games Summer, 2008 to beat Mark Spitz's 1972 record of seven, the world took notice. When a customer brought this signed pair of Michael Phelps' swim trunks to A Frame Above in Jackson, Mich., the souvenir required a gold medal presentation.

The customer received the Speedo-brand swimsuit from the swim coach at the University of Michigan, where Phelps trained. The inscription, "Go Blue" refers to the university colors.

Shop owner Wendy Clifton was thrilled to design a shadow box as a fitting tribute to the athlete. As soon as she saw the swim trunks, she knew she wanted to create a frame to symbolize the Olympics. First, a gold frame would not only signify the medals Phelps had won, but also give the presentation an Asian feel. She then considered using an American flag as a backdrop for the Speedo, but remembered reading an article that stated nothing should be placed directly on top of the American flag.

As a substitute for the real thing, Wendy created a mat board background, alternating red and white stripes. Since the trunks are blue, the overall look still represents an American flag. The stripes, she thought, also denote the lanes of the swimming pool where Phelps made his mark on history.

Bainbridge Fabrics, No. 4111, Scarlet, and Crescent Moorman Fabrics, No. 7519, White, are the mats used for the stripes. The red stripes are 1.75 inches wide and the white are 2 inches, except on the top and bottom, where they are 2.25 inches, and cut with a reverse bevel to accommodate the lip of the frame. Wendy top cut (from the linen side, not from the back) several of each color to make a reverse bevel and a regular bevel without having to turn the mat over with each cut. The regular and reverse bevels of adjacent mat strips fit together in a seamless pattern without any gaps.

Since the Speedo is quite large, Wendy chose to extend the mat only a couple inches beyond the swimsuit on all sides.

Tru Vue Conservation Clear glass, a Dupont Tyvek dust cover, screw hanger, and 50-pound wire complete the piece, which measures 16.5-by-26.0 inches. It took approximately two hours to finish the project.

from Professional Picture Framers Magazine, February 2009

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