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Monday, February 23, 2015

Framing a Pastel Painting with Spacers

'Magical Memories'         6x6           pastel             ©Karen Margulis
 Framing is not my favorite part of painting. In fact I only frame paintings when I absolutely have to. I store my finished paintings in boxes, flat with glassine paper in between layers. I sell paintings unframed and ship them packaged in foam core and glassine sandwiches. I do know how to frame but I'd rather spend my time painting!

I do get a lot of questions about framing so today I decided to take apart an old painting that I had professionally framed so I could share how it was done. This is a 6x6 pastel. It was framed with spacers and museum glass. The framer made a neat little package that pops into the frame. Have a closer look:

This is the 'package' taken out of the frame.
This is the framing method used when you don't want to have a mat. The painting is not right up against the glass but it is held away from the glass by the use of EconoSpace Spacers. The spacers are thin plastic strips with a sticky side. The spacers can be cut and attached to the edge of the glass using the peel and stick strip on the spacer.  Visit the FrameTek website for more information and turtorials on spacers.

Here you can see the top layer glass, the black spacer and the backing cardboard

The painting is now ready for the frame. If the painting is already mounted and rigid it is placed on top of the spacers facing the glass. If the painting is not mounted it can be attached to acid free foamcore using hinged tape. This painting was done on a rigid board so it was ready to go.

In this case the frame was deep so it needed some more backing  material so it would be flush to the frame edge. The framer added a piece of cardboard to add the necessary thickness. I would use acid free materials instead of cardboard.

Here is another view of the package of glass, spacer, painting and cardboard backing.

Tape holds all the layers together

Once all of the layers of this sandwich are together the framer used clear tape to secure the layers together. Tape was used on all four corners. Notice that the tape edge does not go past the edge of the spacer. You don't want the tape to show.

Here is a picture of the glass with the black spacers attached.

This little package is now ready to be put into the frame. The tape holds the layers securely and the painting is not touching the glass! To finish the framing job the package can be secured into the frame with points and a point driver. I prefer to use offset clips which are small metal clips that are screwed to the frame. See them here on Blicks.   I like to add backing paper to the back of the frame to add a finishing touch.

Note that Tru Vue Museum Glass was used. This is my preferred glass. I don't care for non glare glass which has a slight hazy look. Museum glass is clear but looks almost invisible. It is amazing!

I was very interested to see how my commissions would be framed. They were unveiled on Sunday at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton. They are big at 30x40 each. They used a thin wood frame with a wide linen liner. I like how they were framed!


Unknown said...

awesome subject. i really dont like framing but I most of the time can't afford to take a painting to be framed. I prefer to frame without mats and make my own spacers with a double stick tape (usually command strips)and acid free mat board. I cut thin strips of the tape and equal size strips of the mat board, then i adhere the tape to the glass so it will be hidden by the lip of the frame and put the strip of mat board on the tape that the pastel will be resting on. Seems to be fairly similar to what the framer is doing. :)

Unknown said...

Your work is beautiful! I always frame my pastels without a mat also, and usually with Econo spacers, but one article in the Pastel Journal years ago said sometimes the French frame the pastels right up against the glass! I've tried this with small paintings with no problems - sometimes even reframing years later!

Melissa said...

Hi Karen! Quick question, do you always mount your paintings if done on paper before you frame them? I agree it is such a pain to frame that I really don't want to have to do it twice. Also, where do you buy your glass? Just at a local frame shop? Thank you for your post! I love your blog.

Dana Strotheide said...

So helpful! Thank you so much!!

Karen said...

Thanks everyone for sharing!! Melissa I don't pre mount my paper. If I have to frame then I mount with tape hinges before I frame.

robertsloan2art said...

Thank you for showing what this looks like! I've been meaning to get econospace spacers for ages, just needed the money. That's too cool!

I once improvised spacers with a very narrow strip of mat board only 1/4" wide, stacked two of them on the edge of the painting on all four sides and stuck it in. It worked. It was an Ampersand Pastelbord and I could not mat it.

Spacers are a real benefit if you use heavy MDF Boards and can't mat them. I love PastelBord but I hate framing it. Partly because I actually like how mats look and can crop to save a composition by deciding mat window shape. But for some sizes, surfaces and paintings a spacer really works better!

Sharon Will said...

Hi Karen,
I too like framing my standard size pastels with acrylic spacers and Museum Glass. I also do custom framing on the side and am passionate about conservation. I'm surprised your framer used cardboard to fill the back! I think our original art is important enough to use archival materials within the whole framing package to preserve it for longevity. Along with UV Glass, that also includes acid free foam core, acid free hinging tapes to hinge art, sealing the inside of a wood framed to protect from acids migrating into the art. Then finishing with an acid free paper dust cover. Your framer looks like they used a scotch tape to hold the art package together? "Framers Tape" is a better choice - it will not break down & turn yellow in future. I see so many artists (and framers)using practices that potentialy do our work harm in time, (like using the white "artists tape" to mount art to the mat - yikes!)so I've become very passionate about it. Thanks for the article!

Sharon Hicks said...

I do hope that cardboard backing is acid free ... it appears to be in direct contact with the back of the painting, which could cause damage over time if it is not acid-free ... I know many framers do use cardboard as backing, but those framers with more experience prefer to use acid-free foamcore, or even the reverse side of acid-free matboard to be the layer in direct contact with the back of the painting paper. I do most of my own framing, and I would never ever use cardboard as a backing. If it is necessary to do so, then I would suggest adding a 'buffer layer' of an acid-free paper between the painting and the cardboard backing. Better safe than sorry.

Karen said...

Thank you for the comments! I appreciate the framers out there sharing advice! I dod mention that I would use archival materials rather than cardboard but I appreciate your confirmation and tips!!

Tania said...

Im glad you said it.
Iv read the same thing.
And iv no means to buy stuff for spacing and backing bords etc..
Struggling artists unite! My frames cost 15!