Mirror Creations at McLean Frames

TR Staff
Staff Writer

By Ellie Boese
McLean Frames in Valley City has been offering the community unique framing creations to serve as mementos, art, decor and taxidermy, among many other items of custom work, for nearly 30 years. The newest addition to their collection is custom laser-engraved, backlit mirrors.
The mirrors, a collection called “Mirror Image,” were unveiled to the public at McLean Frame studio in Valley City on December 12, 2018. The process through which an engraving is made begins when the laser hits the desired medium, fracturing small pores in the surface and causing them to expand and create indentations within the material. Images can also be laser cut or marked onto many substrates, including wood, leather, steel, cloth, marble and plastic, to name a few.
But, as Delmere says, before a photo is even ready to be engraved, it goes through four different computer processes, creating a proper resolution, pixelating the image, and going back through editing. Depending upon the desired effect or “look” of the finished product, Delmere has to experiment with different resolutions, pixelation, and the like. With some of the projects he’s done, photos have taken up to 6 hours to be fully processed and completed in a mirror engraving.
Engraving is a deeper and more intricate process than the others, calling for a steady hand and expertise in the speed, power and focus of a machine and its operator to create the best results. Machines have different settings for adjustments, depending on a photo’s resolution and many other factors. Though there are guidelines for working with the machine, Delmere says that it takes practice to yield truly beautiful results. He finds his combined computer skills and artistry vital in working with the technology and artistic vision to create the product. It’s not a “push two buttons and bam, you’ve got a pretty mirror” process.
After the engraving of the mirrors is complete, McLean backlights them to highlight the intricate details. Because of the intricacies the photo processing software and laser engraving bring to the surface, certain details—some even invisible in the original photo—are crisp and clear. Delmere recalls a mirror he engraved for an anniversary, using a black and white photo. As the image was processing, he began seeing lines down the suit and initially thought there was an error in the program. It turns out the man was wearing a pinstripe suit, though the original photograph didn’t show much of it. Delmere says that the detailed images engraving produces brings a lot of customers to tears. He knows that artists need to have a passion for making heirloom-quality art with items like this, too.
Delmere has also begun creating another kind of touching art: wall-hanging urns. Those that he has created have a stunning portrait of beloved animal companions engraved onto a backlit mirror, paired with a space in the bottom for the pet’s cremated remains and a ridge for a collar.
There are hundreds of different fonts that can be used for personalizing items of many mediums, and McLean specializes in creating uniquely personalized shadow boxes as well. He does everything from custom framing and matting to hand casting/bronzing to skullpture mounting. Delmere was even commissioned to frame the arrow that was used in harvesting the largest green scoring whitetail buck in the world.
Stop in to see the new mirrors or any of the other creations McLean Frames offers. They’re located at 256 Central Ave. N, Valley City, and you can call them to find out more at 701-282-7345. Check out their website at http://www.mclean-frames.com/ or look them up on Facebook.

Photo courtesy of George Dutton/Dutton’s Photography
Delmere & Kris McLean’s grandchildren admire backlit mirror created by McLean Frames.