Framing History

Framing History
Maxine Steanson of Maxine's Custom Frames, with one of her original paintings over her right shoulder.

48 Years of Preserving Memories at Maxine's Custom Frames

For almost half a century, Maxine Steanson of Maxine's Custom Frames at 908 S. Main St. has been hard at work making people happy. 

A lifelong painter herself, she not only brings artworks to life but also carefully crafts the perfect frame for each piece. And she can handle virtually anything, from traditional paintings and photographs to a pair of boxing gloves.

"I like to make people happy if possible, and there's not too many ways you can, but if somebody brings something in that's special to them, and you work with them to try to make it something they're happy with when they come home, then for one small thing you have."

Maxine began her career as an artist specializing in custom animal portraits. "They all wanted them framed," she said. "And they wanted me to frame them since I did the artwork. So I did." 

When a local frame shop closed, Maxine seized the opportunity to establish Maxine's Custom Frames on Main Street in 1976.

The word "Custom" in the name is deliberate. "If you brought in something that is meaningful to you, then we try to work with you to make it fit what you think it should look like," she said. "And that takes a little effort because I don't want to just tell people what they should have. I want to know what they want and what appeals to them or what clicks for them. Then they're happy."

Over the past decades, Maxine and her son Daniel Whitfield have framed countless diplomas, but now and then, she gets a challenging frame project. Maxine likes a challenge. When I asked her what some of the more unusual pieces she framed were, she said: "Several collections of arrowheads, a Santa Claus outfit, a show steer—his picture and the halter that he wore."

Displayed throughout her shop are framed collections of seashells, an antique dagger, newspaper clippings, medals, jerseys, and scores of OSU diplomas — each showcasing their ability to memorialize people's treasures thoughtfully.

Over the years, they developed additional services beyond custom framing. "Because of my art background, I think we're more interested in doing more things. We restore canvases that have been scratched, punched, and torn, need to be repainted, need to be cleaned and revarnished."

Their photo restoration service, led by Daniel Whitfield, takes faded or damaged photos and expertly reconstructs and revives them to their previous glory. A former customer, Martha Seabolt, said, "I went … needing help fixing a picture for another friend who had lost her daughter. Dan is an absolute artist and went out of his way to have it ready in time for the funeral. The family adores his work." 

Maxine has seen many changes to Main Street Stillwater over the past 48 years. 

"They unfortunately took giant, well-illuminating lights out and put these small ones that make it dark on Main Street at night. They're cute, but they don't give out much light, so it makes it darker. Don't care for that," she said. 

On the plus side, she is excited about the new shops coming to Main Street, although parking is an issue. "There's not enough parking. There wasn't enough beforehand, now there really isn't."

Maxine still paints. Several of her original watercolor paintings of Scissor-tailed flycatchers and buildings from the OSU campus hang on the walls of her shop. Each is well-set in a beautiful frame.

Maxine is still going strong and has no plans to stop soon. When asked if she planned on retiring, she said, "So far, I'm keeping going." 

You can connect with Maxine here:
Maxine’s Custom Frames, Inc. - Stillwater’s Custom Picture Framers
Maxine’s Custom Frames offers full-service professional custom picture framing in Stillwater, Ok. Over 27 years of experience. Specializing in unique OSU diploma framing. Large selection and friendly service.

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