View Full Version : Framing my pastel work

Samuel Rowe
11-09-2015, 11:37 AM

I drew a pastel work a while ago, which is about the size of an A4 paper. I've heard it's bad to fix or frame them directly, but I hate the look of mats and I don't understand how spacers work (do they come in direct contact with the pastel? That will ruin it, as mine is completely covered in pastel).

Any advice on framing? Also, the least expensive way would be nice.

11-09-2015, 01:31 PM
You can purchase spacers that you place on the glass to keep the glass from touching the pastel work then frame as you would an oil painting canvas.. There are demonstrations on Utube. Google frame spacers.

11-09-2015, 01:33 PM
Try passe partout -- although the term formally means with a mat, it's come to be used as without a mat. Glass is placed directly on the painting. Most instructions recommend sealing the edges of the glass-painting-backing "sandwich" with an acid free tape. Pastels look really good that way framed in a plein air frame--with museum glass, if you can afford it.

Samuel Rowe
11-09-2015, 01:51 PM
I can't. And a passe partout literally means a mat... It sounds like an awful, awful idea to press glass against a pastel work.

11-09-2015, 06:07 PM
It works good with Museum Glass. I would not do it with regular glass. Framing with spacers is a good option for landscapes. For portraits and still life's, matts may look better. Google Econo spacers. They come in clear, black and white as well as various thickness's. I use the black in 1/8".

11-09-2015, 06:57 PM
It works with any glass. An older couple came into a gallery that has my work, and asked if anyone knew anything about pastels because they had three old pieces that were unsigned, and they were hoping to find out if anyone might recognize the work. I went to their home, and quickly determined by way they were framed that they'd been framed most likely in the middle or maybe a little later in the last century. They were three absolutely lovely pastel landscapes their aunt had in her antique store when she passed, and they inherited. Unfortunately, I could also tell that the paper they were on was being "burned" by the acidic wooden frame that not only surrounded them, but also backed them! Since we thought they might be signed on the back, they asked me to take them out of the frames. I first cautioned them that I had no idea if the pastel would stay in place since it was directly on the glass. Well much to my surprise almost no pastel came off with the glass! There was a tiny bit though so I didn't think they'd been sprayed with fixative. There were no signatures on the backs either, but I offered archival foam board behind the artwork to prevent further damage, and they reframed them as they had been; the existing glass was cleaned and placed directly on the work.

After that experience I started doing the same with my pastels, but I do tape the edges with framers tape. However, I find dealing with strips of tape any longer than 14 inches to be a challenge. Therefore, larger paintings are framed with EconoSpacers between the glass and artwork. Oh! I do use Museum or Denglass on almost all of my work. Denglass is pre-museum glass and wonderful to use, but way more expensive. I was fortunate to have a lot of it given to me by someone who was no longer in the framing business and was going to throw it out if someone wouldn't take it. :eek:

11-09-2015, 07:27 PM
It may depend on where you live, but for the past 10 years or so in my neck of the woods (Eastern US) it is far more common to see pastels framed without a mat in the same frames as oils are framed. I use spacers - which are easy to apply as they come with a self-adhesive side. Here's a link to a spacer website which shows how they sit against the glass and against the edge of the frame:



11-09-2015, 07:39 PM
Interestingly, I was talking to Terri Ford this last weekend about this and she frames direct to glass. However, she does not tape the edges. It's just glass, the artwork, baker board and then drives in the points. She does put backing paper on afterwards.

Moises Menendez
11-10-2015, 09:22 AM
When I attended a workshop given by Susan Ogilvie I learned the pastel works can be framed without matting. She explained the use of the spacers, and the framing work looks very professional & resembles an oil paint. Since then I have been framing my pastel works with the spacers. Of course, the pastel board or paper does not touch the glass.

Samuel Rowe
11-11-2015, 09:07 AM
But it touches the spacers, damaging the pastel art.

11-11-2015, 01:35 PM
Only one eighth of a inch at the edge where it is hidden under the frame. No worse than the edge of the painting being under the mat!

Samuel Rowe
11-11-2015, 01:42 PM
I see! Much thinner than I realised! Sorry then, sounds perfect in that case.

Thank you all for your help!

11-11-2015, 03:14 PM
I think Don is right; to use or not use mats may be regional. However, I too am seeing fewer and fewer mats used with pastel paintings not only here on the west coast, but also in photographers taken of large pastel only exhibits from around the world. (See images of work mounted in the National Gallery Club gallery for the PSA exhibit.)

Even with the right sized frame (wider and therefore usually more expensive), it is less expensive than framing with mats because the size of frame and glass is considerably smaller. Furthermore, most people can do their own framing if they don't have to cut a mat, and that's a savings too.