Custom picture framing and gilding

Hours & Contact

The Workshop is owned and operated by Jonathan Syme, a B.F.A. recipient from the Alberta College of Art and Design, he is also a practicing Vancouver artist. As a lifelong student of art Jonathan has a keen eye for colour and design, a sensitivity to artwork and a deep understanding of art history, contemporary and period styles. 

After an extensive three year apprenticeship under the scrutinizing tutelage of master gilder Brian Dedora, Jonathan had the opportunity to take over The Workshop in January 2011. He now continues the traditions at a wonderful new location off Commercial Drive.

You will find confidence in his combined education in fine art, his dedication to standards of excellence in his craft and that this expertise will result in the perfect unison between frame and artwork..


One of the most difficult business negotiations is selling a sole proprietor business because the proprietor usually is the business. When I put word out in the art community of Vancouver to say I was looking for a studio assistant I was lucky to find Jonathan Syme. Jonathan came to the position with already acquired skills, as a painter. He had an “eye”, colour and colour mixing skills combined with compositional knowledge plus being already adept at work in a studio and an open personality augured well. It’s not exactly corporate or modernly technical as it relies, for water gilding, on the acquisition of skills based on a manipulation of materials prior to the invention of plastics, another world entirely.

I took Jonathan through the work from frame cutting and joining to final finishes and fitting artwork and included him in discussions with clients. One of the perks with this type of work is being able to talk about art all day every day and the application of our frames in all their aspects including appropriate period framing for anything that came our way.

One of the most difficult skills to teach, as much of the work is hand done, is hand pressure. I would, with some excuse or another, back off certain jobs to let Jonathan, after I’d shown him how to use particular formulas and how they proceeded, to leave him on his own. If a mistake was to be made these jobs were recoverable... there were few mistakes.

In the tradecraft of gilding, or any of the traditional trades, there is always the occasion where one’s masterpiece has to be completed without the supervision of the master. Jonathan’s piece was an 18th century raw wood sofa frame to be water gilded in 23K gold leaf from start to finish. It was brilliant, as intended. With this piece I knew he was there, knew that he could both literally and figuratively handle it. Secure in this knowledge I was able to retire knowing the business could be handed on to Jonathan who possessed both skill and grace. Knowing the clientele I had passed on would be treated personably with Jonathan’s acquired skills and expertise.

Brian Dedora

The Workshop

The Workshop is a purveyor of fine quality goods and honest workmanship 
Est. 1990 Vancouver BC

1654 Franklin Street | 604.684.1999 | 
Copyright © 2011, The Workshop. All rights reserved.