View Full Version : Framing without mat...

Barbara WC
08-14-2014, 03:26 PM
Hi All! I haven't been on WC in a long time!

I saw a post by Richard McKinley about framing a soft pastel without a mat-Passe-Partout, which I understand is basically putting the pastel directly next to the glass without a spacer! This is shocking to me! I of course came to WC and found a couple of mentions about it here...

But I have a couple of questions:

1. Does it matter what type of pastel paper is used? Sanded, or not? I mostly use PasteMat

2. I don't blend at all with my fingers or other objects, only the pastel sticks themselves. I notice a nice quality to the pastels- which seems to keep the crystal structure of the pigment preserved, and keeps strokes looking fresh. If I put a piece of glassine on my painting to carry it back from a figure painting session, sometimes that beautiful "freshness" of strokes is not as nice as it was before adding the glassine. Does this happen when framing the pastel directly next to the glass? Is it possible to keep the fresh looking strokes with the pastel directly touching the glass?

I haven't seen framing without a spacer in my area (everyone here, including me, seems to frame with mats), but I'd love to give framing without a spacer a try- I think it would be well received by the viewing public here! And I imagine it would be good preservation for the painting because the pastel isn't falling off onto the mat, which then occasionally means opening up the painting and reframing...


08-14-2014, 03:42 PM
I've seen it. You will want to use Museum glass for the best effect. It gives a nice, clean look when done so, almost as if the glass isn't there. The type of paer does not matter. It should be mounted to a board though. I've seen it on Canson, Uart that I know of. As to how it does\does not affect the "crytal structure", it's not something I've focued on.

Barbara WC
08-14-2014, 04:42 PM
Mike- cool, thanks for answering! Looks like you are down in So. California- we up here in Marin Co. must be behind the times! I am pretty sure I haven't seen any pastels exhibited around here without a mat. We have a lot of pastel artists in Marin, but only a few exhibiting their work...

I'll have to contact you about what the art scene is like down you sometime- my husband is going to retire in the coming future, and we are considering a move down to So. California- we used to live in Ventura and also spent time in San Diego. Still on the fence though- we've been up in SF Bay area now for 7 years and it's starting to feel like home... I have lots of opportunities to attend different figure and portrait painting sessions here, don't know how it is other places...


08-14-2014, 05:41 PM
I think that the usual recommendation is if you live in a humid climate, then you still want space between painting and glass, but in a dry climate no space necessary. I have no idea if this is accurate.

Personally, in my neck of the woods, framing pastels without a mat has been popular for a number of years - but still using a spacer since there is no mat.

People who frame a lot more than i do will hopefully have more of their experiences to share.


08-14-2014, 05:50 PM
Don't hesitate to spam me Barbara.

Barbara WC
08-15-2014, 04:27 PM
Doug- Thanks for the response.

I've never thought about framing without a mat, and maybe if I do, a spacer should be used. We are very dry in the summer- there is no rain here from about May-November, but we do live close to the coast and do get some fog- it's mostly cool here in the summer (and rainy and cold in the winter), but we do have fog. Hard for me to determine how "humid" it really is here though, I used to live in Houston, TX! But compared to New Mexico, it is more humid...

I like the idea of no mat- and with a spacer think a nice wood frame might look nice.


08-17-2014, 12:02 AM
Really good news for those of us who'd rather use spacers than press the art up against the mat (moist climate people maybe) and still not have to use a mat. Dakota Pastels now has got Econospace spacers, the easy ones, listed among the products they carry, at about the price they were on that site I can never find especially if I can't remember what they're called and think it's EZspacers or something. Econospace are the ones with a bit of tacky glue on one side that you press to the glass before putting the painting and the backing board down on top and sealing up the frame. It helps to get the glass cut to fit tightly, supposed to leave no more than 1/8" between glass and side of frame so the spacers really do stick to the glass and the package doesn't shift around.

This can really save some money considering the price bumps in frames as the sizes go up. Matting is easy for me, but if I want to have a 5" x 7" frame on a 5" x 7" painting, it'd be really nice to be able to cut Econospacers and put them in rather than just slivering 3/16" strips of mat board, gluing them together and tucking them in between the art and the frame. I did this for a painting on an Ampersand Pastelbord where the board was basically its own backing and it worked - but it's a lot easier to get the spacers.

I'll be getting some next time I order from Dakota. So I can finally use and frame the beautiful Pastelbords that I bought. I love the surface but matting anything on a heavy board is a real pain, it'd take doing an inset window mat exactly to fit so the art doesn't slide down busting its hinges.

08-20-2014, 03:01 PM
I have never tried putting a painting up next to the glass without some kind of spacer and I live where it is quite humid. I have used the S shaped plastic spacers which work well but it does present a problem in making sure the rabbet on the frame is cut deep enough to accommodate the space, glass, art material and the backing and still leave enough wood to insert the stays.