View Full Version : A couple of framing questions.

10-11-2016, 02:51 AM
Hi, I was about to frame some pastels in some ready made frames and realized at the last minute that my mounted Pastel Premier paper has a half inch border around the sanded surface making it to large for the frames. Do most people trim this off? This seems like a hassle for the convenience of a taping margin for fixing to a drawing board. I want to frame matless.
Also can Frametek econospacers come in contact with pastel on the artwork? It seems leaving a a perfect margin in advance would be difficult.

Moqui Steps
10-11-2016, 06:39 AM
I also prefer to frame my pastels without a mat most of the time. To avoid having an unpainted area left by tape that would have to be trimmed off before framing I almost always dry mount my paper to a board before I start the painting. When composing the image I plan for the extra space around the edges that I know will be covered by the frame rabbet, usually about 1/4 inch depending on the frame.

Since the pastel covered surface that is hidden by the frame rabbet won't show, you don't need to worry about the frame spacers contacting it. From my experience the spacers don't disturb it that much anyway, but even if they did it wouldn't matter.

You might also consider framing without spacers with the glass in contact with the pastel. Two schools of thought on this but I prefer no spacers on most pieces. Glass in contact using anti reflective glass like ArtGlass AR or Museum Glass is the closest you can get to displaying your work naked. There is a significant improvement in how the piece looks on the wall when framed this way.

Some of my own previous posts on this topic as well as others on WC and elsewhere:





10-11-2016, 10:54 AM
Do most people trim this off? This seems like a hassle for the convenience of a taping margin for fixing to a drawing board.

Yup, that's what I do. For me, it is worth the convenience.

10-11-2016, 08:21 PM
'Scuse the stupid, but... What is "dry mount"?

Thanks in advance!


10-12-2016, 08:34 PM
'Scuse the stupid, but... What is "dry mount"?

Thanks in advance!

Here's a web page that describes dry mounting. Dry mounting is usually done using a heat press. A framing shop may or may not have dry mounting equipment - and if they do they can do a professional dry mounting job. As mentioned, you'll want to dry mount paper to board before you paint your painting in pastel.


Personally, if I work on paper, I never permanently mount it to a board. I want the artwork to be "loose' so it can breathe and expand and contract within the frame. I just tape it on the top edge (using a "hinge tape") of the backing board. This way if the backing board warps or is damaged, the artwork can be reframed with another backing board. But that's just me.

If I do want to mount paper to board, then I would have it dry mounted. Trying to use spray adhesive or some other adhesive often results in air bubbles and some sort of buckling of the paper eventually. Dry mounting is the best way that I know when using adhesive.


Moqui Steps
10-13-2016, 09:07 AM
I tried taping the paper down when I was first learning pastels. Didn't like it. It was constantly coming loose from the tape and once dust got on the edges it became very difficult to re-tape. I tried pastel boards and did not like the tooth on any of them.

I want the paper to lay perfectly flat with no shifting around when I am painting AND when it is in the frame. I found the only way I could achieve that was by mounting it to a board. Mounting AFTER it is painted does not work well at all.

What I see as the benefits to mounting the paper to a rigid support surface:

Flat stable surface to paint on
Drops right in to regular frames just like an oil painting on a panel with no need to worry about it shifting in the frame if / (more often WHEN than if) the tape hinges fail
Significantly easier to get the entire package to fit together quickly when framing without a mat either using spacers or with the glass in contact with the painting.
Greater protection for the paper. No chance of damaging the paper with tape hinges which is required to hold the paper in your frame. Significantly more resistant to impact damage from the back side vs a piece taped to some foam core or mat board.
Eliminates any chance of the paper curling, ripping, tearing or creasing. If the board warps a little (rarely happens much if at all if sealed properly), inserting it in the frame easily removes the warping.Drawbacks / Negatives to doing it this way:

More costly
Takes more time to get it ready to paint
Thicker than plain paper so it takes up more space and adds weight
With a piece that was built for mat-less framing, if you later decide you want to use a mat, it does add work and materials to the process
If using glass spacers plus the board, some frame rabbets end up being too shallow vs a glass / spacer / pastel paper / mat board setup. However, I don't feel that a single sheet of mat board is sufficient to protect the back of a pastel painting in a frame. I would be adding more protection to the back anyway so it might as well be a 1/8" sheet of masonite.

As for concerns about damaging the support board, I don't see ever needing to replace the support board anymore than I would ever need to replace the back side of the "paper" layers that are supporting the sanded surface of the pastel paper. Something that would damage that sealed masonite or aluminum backer board is likely also going to damage the work, whether it is dry mounted or taped in place. If you are that worried about damaging the support board just put another layer of protection in the frame on the back of the board. If anything, having it properly dry mounted to a sealed, stable, rigid support surface would make it better than bare paper as far as survive-ability goes in my view.

Once attached to an archival and sealed board it pretty much becomes the painting surface, just like an ampersand pastel board. For the record, I don't see anything with foam in it as a truly archival support board whether the paper is mounted to it or just laying on it. I have seen pastels done by fairly well known artists that were mounted on foam core that were trashed on the back side from using glazing points to hold it in the frame. If you are going to use foam core backers, then I would strongly suggest that you do NOT dry mount the paper to it. Stick with something that doesn't have a foam core such as metal, MDF or "masonite" for dry mounting.

If you are still concerned about the need to remove the paper from the board, just use an archival, removable dry mount film.

10-13-2016, 03:46 PM
If you have to mount a paper such as La Carte AFTER you have completed the painting, what is the best way? Spray mount? is this archival? How do you avoid smudging? thanks in advance...

Moqui Steps
10-13-2016, 07:58 PM
I never had good results with any spray mounting before or after having painted on the paper. Trying to stick a pastel down using pretty much any method after the painting is finished is generally not advisable and pretty difficult / risky to do.

If your paper is laying nice and flat, your best bet for a mat-less framing is probably to use spacers or direct contact with the glass, cutting the paper, glass and backer board all to the same size so they fit very closely inside your frame rabbet to prevent movement. I would go 1/16 to 1/8" of an inch smaller than the rabbet on the glass / painting / backer. Seal the "package" as described in this link below.


If your paper isn't fully covered with pastels you may want to avoid the glass contact framing method and use spacers. You might run into some fungus / mold issues in humid climates with uncovered non sanded paper touching the glass rather than pastel particles since paper is made of mold supporting organic materials, where pastels and sanded paper surfaces are not. My understanding is that the sanded paper plus the layer of pastels provide enough micro "air space" between the actual paper and the glass to prevent mold growth other than maybe in tropical climates or in non climate controlled environments.

10-14-2016, 09:51 AM
I agree with Donald. If the paper is relatively thin, the paper will eventually buckle when using spray mount - at least in my experience. As I mentioned in my earlier post, any type of thinner paper will expand and contract with changes in temperature and humidity. If you are framing without a mat, then you don't need to attach the pastel paper to the backing board at all. Glass, painting and backing board are all cut to the same size as the frame, so they can all be loose, so to speak.


10-14-2016, 02:18 PM
Wow So I skipped the spacers and tried framing against the Museum glass yesterday as you suggested and I could not believe how the glass just disappears!
I had heard of this method but was scared. On the Framtek website they say not to do it but they are selling the spacers afterall. Their theory is that all the components should hang free for air circ. and expansion/contraction. Any reports on the long term use of this? Will papers pull in moisture and warp?
It feels like sealed package. Any reports from places like the humid southeast?

10-14-2016, 03:25 PM
I'm afraid that I have never placed the painting against the glass - always use spacers or a mat. The spacers are easy to use, so I figure it may be worth it - just in case. Hopefully, some others have experience with framing up against the glass.


Moqui Steps
10-15-2016, 11:10 AM
As for warping of the paper from humidity over time, the two most secure methods of preventing that are dry mounting the paper to a support board (before you paint on it) and / or framing it with the glass in contact with the painting. If a pastel is hanging from paper hinges, or loose, either under a mat or under spacers without a mat, there is nothing to help prevent it from warping. I have seen some pretty ugly warping in pieces framed that way.

Unfortunately mold and fungus can grow on glass and paper regardless of how you frame it. I just don't see a higher risk by framing with the glass in contact with the pastel, to the contrary I feel the risk is less. Put a sticker on the back of the art advising your buyers that fine art, pastels in particular need to be kept in a climate controlled environment and out of direct sunlight so they will be an informed owner.

This is interesting reading about using a fungus preventative on watercolors and other papers.



(Stop reading here if you don't want to be further bored to tears by even more about this topic.)

If you seal the edges with tape there is going to be little to no air exchange inside the "package". I strive for as close to an air tight seal as I can get. I see that as a plus not a negative. If it is relatively dry inside and new air can't get in, then you aren't going to give mold a better climate to grow in over time.

Be sure you seal it up in a dry environment. If it is humid where you are, find a place that is climate controlled to do your framing. Your air conditioner or central air heater will significantly reduce the humidity in a room. If you are worried about how humid it is, get a gauge to check it before sealing it up. They are not that expensive and kind of fun to have around. I would let the artwork and backer sit in a low humidity environment for a few days before sealing it up if you live in a humid place. I am in the desert so I usually don't have to worry about humidity when sealing mine up. I have several pieces that have been sealed for coming on two years and they are pristine inside. One is in a room where the humidity and temps change dramatically with the weather as the windows are often left open all night in the summer.

Logically in my mind, the larger, open air space created by spacers and glass seems a more likely environment for mold growth. That space will eventually reach the ambient humidity level as it changes. Temperature and air pressure fluctuation will be constantly sucking in new air along with new moisture and NEW mold spores basically forever. The less air that is in there, relatively dry and stabilized, and the tighter the seal, the less bad stuff will get in. See the link previously about the "air pump". I have no scientific proof though, just my deduction which of course could be dangerously wrong.

As I mentioned previously I would not use this method with watercolors since gum Arabic is a known mold supporting material. Mold can grow pretty quickly on a watercolor whether framed or not if given the right humidity and temperature.

A few more links on this topic that you may not have seen. The "don't do it" pages in a search (not listed) far out number the "do it" pages which is not surprising to me.



https://jocastilloartblog.blogspot.com/2008/02/framing-pastels-against-glass-or-not.htmlFrom the link directly above
Susan Carlin (https://www.blogger.com/profile/06110529181768705593) said... Hi Jo. I've framed pastel paintings "smack up" against the glass for 30+ years and have never had a problem with it. It honors the painting as a painting to forego a mat, too. Otherwise, someone might think it was a print.
Larger paintings might need something more rigid than foamcore, is all. If the backing is flexible and pulls back away from the glass years after framing, you just take it apart, clean the glass, and reassemble with less flexible backing. Simple! -Ornery Susan
Saturday, February 16, 2008 7:01:00 AM (https://jocastilloartblog.blogspot.com/2008/02/framing-pastels-against-glass-or-not.html?showComment=1203166860000#c8796412536998479655)
Some scientist here on WC needs to do a 100 year study on mold growth in pastel framing - spacers vs glass in contact so I can stop worrying about it!

Don't take my advice to heart I could be totally off base - study it out on your own and make the most informed decision you can.

10-15-2016, 04:33 PM
"Some scientist here on WC needs to do a 100 year study on mold growth in pastel framing - spacers vs glass in contact so I can stop worrying about it!"

No need to do this Donald. The glass against painting method is centuries old in Europe. :-) You are correct in saying to make the "package" as air tight as possible. However, I had an opportunity to unframe three pastels that didn't have taped edges. The owners wanted to know if I could find signatures or knew who might have painted them. By the way they were framed, I guessed them to have been painted in the 40s or 50s. I could see the paper was being "burned" by the wood frame and wood! backing board. The owners wanted them to be protected from further damage. I told them I had no idea if removing the glass after such a long time would damage the work, but they said to go ahead. There was no tape around the glass and backing so it was very easy to carefully take the glass off the artwork. To our surprise, there was almost no pastel dust on any of the paintings! Neither was there any mold. The signature I did find on one of the pieces wasn't readable, and the other two weren't signed. However, the style of painting was enough to know they weren't painted by the same person. We didn't know the early history of where these paintings may have "lived", but they ended up in the Pacific NorthWET where humidity isn't exactly a stranger. They had belonged to the aunt of the female owner who collected paintings from auction houses for her antique shop. Off hand, now I'm not so sure just how important taping the edges may be if one uses a light hand and few layers. Those I took apart had been painting on a non-sanded surface using a light hand with few layers; they were/are drop dead gorgeous! I do it so the glass won't slip and smudge the work since most of my paintings are on a sanded paper. I also don't use this method on pieces larger than about 11x14; its too easy for me to get my fingers tangled in longer pieces of tape. lol I use Econospacers for pieces up to about 12 x 16, and Channel spacers on larger paintings per Frame Space's recommendations.

As for foam board backing; damage due to framing brads is the least of my concern. Unless one uses ArtCare Archival foam board by Bainbridge, the "foam" will out-gas and crumble causing more damage than the brads. I've had reason to reframe paintings I've done many years ago before the archival foam board was available, and was shocked to see the crumbling inner core and yellowing on the back of the paintings despite the foam board papers being acid free. Since I frame all of my own work I place a rigid backing board behind the foam board thus avoiding any damage. I could use gator board or 4 ply museum board, but I like the softer feel of foam board on my aging fingers. I usually mount all papers before painting on them using either FrameTec's double tac mounting film or for full sheet paintings I use archival spray adhesive with my vacuum press. Sometimes when using the double tac film I don't mount it until after it has been painted, but those are small works no larger than 9x12 because handling larger paper can be a challenge. Using the spray adhesive is easy to do on painted or non-painted surfaces. I don't particularly like the odor of the spray so I tend to remember to mount before painting. (I worked for a gallery/frame shop for almost 15 years at one time, and have a complete framing shop in my home including a 4 x 6 foot vacuum press, mat cutter, and wall mounted glass and board cutter thanks to said gallery going out of business after 26 years in business. I bought all of their framing equipment for $50, and my husband did a little TIC repair so all work very well now.)

10-15-2016, 08:07 PM
Great info!
Donald you said:
"....I would not use this method with watercolors since gum Arabic is a known mold supporting material. Mold can grow pretty quickly on a watercolor whether framed or not if given the right humidity and temperature."
I like to do watercolor underpaintings under my pastels. I use Wallis, Pastel Premier and Multimedia board. They are usually covered 50-98% with pastel over top. Do you think direct to glass is still a safe method in this case?

Moqui Steps
10-16-2016, 10:31 AM
Peggy - Thanks for the comments and information from your actual experience with this stuff. I am fairly new to pastels and learning as I go, so it is good to hear from someone who has a long track record with framing this way.

redcedar - An interesting question about the watercolors on the pastel paper. Logically I would say that the presence of Gum Arabic would increase the chance of mold / fungus growing in there because it is providing an ideal breeding ground for the mold.

However, if your washes are not to thick, from what I have seen the paint tends to settle down into sanded surface. They are then covered with pastels, so you have created a very air permeable space plus a non adhering surface layer between the watercolor and the glass, which might work to keep mold growth down and to prevent the painting from sticking to the glass. I still think I would avoid Gum Arabic paints as an underpainting if I planned on framing in contact with the glass.

A suggestion that might work to keep the mold supporting materials out of the mix - use Golden QoR watercolors. They are Gum Arabic free, using a known archival base medium called Aquazol. That stuff does not support mold growth from what I remember reading about it. But it too is hygroscopic like Gum Arabic, which is not a good thing in a glass in contact situation.

Some non hygroscopic alternatives to consider - Dr Martin's Bombay Inks, Alcohol inks*, Acrylic Inks. (*The glue holding the sand to the surface on Pastel Premier papers can soften when alcohol is applied, but not on some other papers.)

10-16-2016, 02:23 PM
Interesting....I wonder how fixatives play into the archival-ness of this method. I use a dash of Lascaux which is an acrylic fixative. I assume this would also inhibit mold growth as the watercolor would be sealed in.

10-20-2016, 09:10 AM
Great info here!

Lately I've been applying clear Liquitex gesso to hardboard panels (mostly 9x12 and 11x14) and painting direct, then frame just like an oil painting.