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Monday, February 27, 2017

How to Share Unframed Pastel Paintings

'Make a Little Magic'         5x7         pastel
 It's a Daily Painter Dilemma.  How will I  decide what paintings to share and which to retire to the pile?  I paint just about everyday so that adds up to a lot of paintings. Sure some are just small studies and some have  been sold and some just aren't up to par.... but that still leaves quite a few paintings that need to be organized.

I certainly don't want to frame them all. The cost wouldn't be feasible. But I would like some paintings  available for easy viewing by studio visitors or at my workshops. How do I keep the pastel protected while still allowing for the painting to be handled?

I need  a good compromise! I think I found one.  A way to display unframed pastels while keeping them protected...and no frames are needed!

Crystal Clear Bags to the rescue!

A painting with it's foamcore and clearbag package
I've actually used this method of displaying pastels for years. And I can vouch that paintings left in the bags for years are no worse for wear. Here is what I do:
  • Order a selection of Crystal Clear bags to fit your painting sizes. I usually allow for a bag slightly larger than my painting size so it fit's snugly.  What are Crystal Clear bags? They are high quality clear bags with an adhesive flap seal. They are acid free and archival safe. They come in an huge array of sizes. I order mine from clearbags.com
  • Cut a piece of foam core the size of the painting. Slip this piece of foamcore into the bag.
  • Slip the painting into the bag. The foam core backing will provide support. Since it fits snugly in the bag there is no need to tape the painting to the board. Also the snug fir means the painitng won't move around and get smudged.
  • I take an extra step and include a preprinted slip of paper with my contact information and care instructions. I suggest that the bag be cut off and pulled away from the painting. You can take the painting out without cutting the bag if you are careful.
Yes you do get some residual pastel dust on the inside of the bag but it isn't enough to make a difference. The key is to make sure the painting and foamcore fit snugly inside the bag. You do not want the painting to be able to slide around.

To give you an idea I order bag B75 for my 5x7 paintings. They measure 5 7/16 x 7 1/4
Here is the list of the bags I recently ordered:

B75 for 5x7
B86 for 6x8
B811 for 8x10
B1012 for 9x12
B11 for 11x14

(I ordered 2.5 x.3.5 inch bags for my minis but I didn't remember to allow room for the foamcore so they are too small!)

My new stash pf clear bags!

A basket full of older 5x7 pastel paintings


Deborah Rose said...

Karen: Thanks so much for all the valuable tips. For the past 2 years, I've been using glassine sheets to protect my unframed pastels, and I have a special chest of drawers where I keep them.

However the idea of the plastic bags would also work. They would be useful if you were giving an unframed pastel to someone, to protect until it is framed.

I thought your Canadian readers might be interested to know that there is a company called "U-Line" which offers archival, acid-free bags and foamcore boards for artists. I believe U-Line also has a US parent company.

Countryfolks said...

Hey Karen! What thickness of foam core do you place inside with the painting to achieve the snug fit?

Karen said...

Thanks for sharing Deborah!

I am using 1/4 inch thick foamcore.

robertsloan2art said...

I love these! They protect pastel well and keep it entirely viewable. I've used them for some time, though before I'd use shrink wrap for the same purpose.

The minis can be mounted with bits of mat board cut to size instead of foam core, that might fit inside the bag better. I use archival mat board anyway so it's just as safe for the painting. There are little clear bags for minis that are for sports cards that don't have the adhesive seal, these soft sleeves are sold in sports card shops along with 3" x 4" Top Loaders. This is how I mounted and sold and shipped minis for years - I just used the archival supplies for sports cards and they worked fine. I use a soft sleeve inside a top loader and it's as good as framing for preservation. The top loaders are archival and so stiff that they can be mounted in a mat, put into a photo frame, anything like that. When I use a top loader, I don't put another stiffener in with it because I know the top loader is solid enough not to bend in the mail. Then I send them to people in the top loader and never had one bend or get damaged - except if the painting was on velour board, velour does not stand up to shaking and will blur hopelessly. I think because the hairs are actually touching the front is why the velour board ones can't be mounted that way.

Bird Peterson said...

Great resource, thank you!

Irene Duma said...

Hi Karen,
Quick question: is the foam core you use to package art in the clear plastic bags acid-free? And where do you buy it?

I don't think it needs to be acid free for your packing sandwich, though, right?

Love your blog! Thanks for sharing all your tips.


Karen said...

Hi Irene,
Thanks for asking. The foamcore is not acid free in either because they are only meant to be temporary solutions both for storage and shipping. I only keep the paintings in the clear bags for shows and events otherwise I vote paintings flat in between sheets of glassine paper.

Irene Duma said...

Gotcha. Thanks. I'm living on an island in the North Atlantic (Newfoundland) so specialty art products are rare. Now to find glassine...

Karen said...

Hi Irene,
I understand! I also use plain newsprint in between paintings for storage. Not archival I know but certainly good for my lifetime! And more readily available. I get my glassine online in rolls so it really does go a long way!

Deborah Rose said...

You can also get glassine sheets 500 12x12" for $31 CDN from Uline.ca