Mike Abbot put his winter months to work learning a new hobby — framing and matting prints in his garage where he lives north of Perry.
As the manager of the American Concrete Plant in Perry, Abbott has his hands full from spring through late fall, but come the hard freezes, cold weather and snow, work grinds to a halt.
“My wife and I stayed busy for the first part of the winter with the holidays and some other things, but then there was the last three months, January, February and March,” Abbott says. “I needed something to keep me busy.”
That something grew out of the couple buying some wildlife prints at the Maynard Reese Gallery in Des Moines.
“We bought several prints, and it was a big chunk out of the checkbook,” Abbott says.
He started checking out the cost of purchasing prints off eBay and how to make frames. With lots of instructions and plenty of time on his hands, he learned to mat and frame prints. He discovered he could buy prints by well-known artists for quite a bit less online.
Since he started framing wildlife prints in January, he has matted and framed about 150 prints he has purchased online or already had.
“I call what I do a hobby, because I don’t make any money in the proposition, and when I figure out how long it takes me to frame and mat a print, that doesn’t leave very much that I make per hour,” he says.
Abbott makes all his frames from walnut, mostly because he believes a good wildlife print should be walnut. He has framed prints by the likes of Reese, Maass, Millette, Redlin and Zach. He has also matted and framed wildlife paintings from old calendars.
“My love of wildlife prints really came from a calendar that my grandfather had,” he says. Abbott recently found an original calendar with the drawing of two men getting into their canoe. Around the bend, they can see a very large moose walking their way through the water. He’s planning on framing that one to keep. In the meantime, he also is still searching for an original, signed print.
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