Tom Bippus and Jill Isaac, siblings and third-generation owners of Bippus Frame Shop in Evansville, have yet to be given a framing challenge they couldn’t solve.
“Haven’t found it yet,” says Jill, standing in the stucco, terracotta-colored shop on the edge of Evansville’s historic district at 200 Cherry Street. “We do it all.”
Clients have brought the pair interesting possessions suitable for framing. In addition to a lot of collectible coins and arrowheads, and ceremonial headpieces, Bippus has framed golf clubs, bagpipes, a marionette puppet, and even roofing shingles.
Jill says the most unusual thing the business has framed is an antique cameo pin and floral bouquet shadow box, both made from human hair.
“A painted working scroll of the book of Genesis,” says Tom, adding to the list of unusual items framed by Bippus. “We’ve done a silk World War II bomber scarf/map.”
Tom’s dedication to his work extends beyond his shop. One of his biceps is tattooed with a bevel gauge and the other is “inked” with a right angle square; both tools used in custom framing.
Jill and Tom’s father, Ray Bippus, and their grandmother, Berenice Bippus, started Bippus Frame Shop in 1977. The original location was across from the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science. The current shop, which has been used as housing for nursing students, a bookstore and a drug rehab facility, was built in 1858 as a single dwelling, renovated in 1911 by F. Manson Gilbert to its current two-story structure and then renovated again by the Bippus family in 1986. The shop consists of about 1,600 square feet of workspace on the first floor, with two occupied apartments on the second level.
“A lot of what we do is help to get things that are important to people up on a wall,” says Tom. “So you can enjoy the things that you like.”
Tom, who has a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Southern Indiana, emphasized every frame is custom-made.
“We manufacture each piece individually. It doesn’t matter if it’s an 8-foot by 10-foot photograph or a peacock,” says Tom, pointing to a large painting of a peacock that belonged to a customer’s grandmother and was recently found in an attic. “Nothing is standard.”
Bippus works with both residential and commercial clients. Recently, the company completed all the framing work for St. Mary’s Epworth facility in Warrick County, and installation that included mostly local art created for the new facility (see story on page 172).
Tom and Jill agree they enjoy being located downtown and have enjoyed seeing the area improve over the years.
“We wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” says Jill. “I love being downtown. We do a lot of work with old things.”