View Full Version : Help! Framing of Soft Pastels holding me back!

06-01-2015, 11:04 AM

I have been working as an artist for some time now, although I still haven't landed on one medium in particular. As of late, I've been going back and forth between oils and soft pastel. For several reasons, I'd like to primarily use one or the other.

I think my ONLY reason for not going with pastels (since I love the medium) would be framing. I loathe framing. I hate the frames, the glass, the cost, and the actual "doing" part. I can get over much of this, but if it costs $200 to frame every piece, I'm not sure I can justify it. I don't have thousands of dollars around to frame enough pieces for a show/booth/gallery.

I enjoy working large, which makes it an even bigger problem. 24" x 36" is probably the smallest I'd consider working with.

Can anyone balm my concerns? Is anyone successful "framing as you go" for clients? My biggest concern isn't buying a frame or two, but the cost of framing in quantity. I've done quite a bit of research on cost cutting measures, but other than doing the framing yourself (which I am comfortable with) I've come up short. I've also done a bit of research on alternatives to framing, but there doesn't seem to be much, unless you count gooping on acrylic over top.

Any advice, suggestions, or help would be much appreciated!



06-01-2015, 01:35 PM
Hmmmm....I have always done my own framing. I buy plein air frames on line or at Jerry's Artarama and glass from the local frame shop, I don't use mats which helps to keep costs down, but I do use spacers which I buy in bulk. On the other hand I always work in standard sizes and generally don't work larger than 16 x 20 so size isn't really an issue for me. Good luck with your decision.

06-01-2015, 03:53 PM
Sorry that I can offer no comforting words. Framing pastels is the one drawback compared to oils and acrylics. For that reason, I only frame pastels when I need to - and luckily (or unlickily) it is rare when I have a pastel in a show. I usually use acrylic (plexiglass) instead of glass, but for a show, museum glass really is preferable. But the cost is very prohibitive.

Have you considered doing your larger works in oil and smaller works in pastel?


06-01-2015, 04:12 PM
I have thought of only doing small pastels, but the expense and space of having both mediums is prohibitive (I live in a small downtown loft).

Moises Menendez
06-01-2015, 04:55 PM
I am in the same predicament but I take the works that are worth showing or saving to the framing store. The owner of the shop gives me some discount since Iam her best costumer. However, I'm planning to do more landscape in pastel and demands many frames and adds the cost. I'm going to start doing my own frames in the future.

06-02-2015, 08:08 PM
I cut my own mats when I was selling. You can sell without frames, just cut a mat and back board and either shrink wrap or use clear bags the size of the outer dimensions of the mat.

I usually cut the mats to have standard outer sizes so the buyer could just buy a less expensive packaged frame for it too.

Matting is a lot cheaper than framing if you cut them yourself. I use the Team System (same as Team System 2 that they have now at Blick except I had to buy the straight cutting head separate for about $20 and it was $20 cheaper.) It does the job the more expensive ones do, very basic but it does the job. The big ones with a squaring arm do make it easier but those pay for themselves fast compared to precut mats vs. boards.

I do work small and rarely go over 9" x 12" but back in the 90s I sometimes worked large and it's not that bad for mats. A big 30" x 40" rag mat board will be under $15. The centers of big ones can be cut into mats or back boards for smaller paintings too. The other advantage is being able to work to unique dimensions if you cut your own mats.

Making frames takes more setup and my disabilities interfered. I didn't have the strength to cut the glass, so that wasn't an option. I did work in a frame shop and it was fun. You can also get discount frames in bulk from some companies. I used to have a catalog.

06-03-2015, 06:20 PM
Frame with acrylic 'glass'. However, it is more expensive than regular glass.