View Full Version : Framing School

07-02-2007, 10:23 AM
Just letting you know that I recently attended professional framing school and wanted to tell you some of what I learned (as encouraged by Sophie/Soap).

First off the focus wasn't on pastels but I certainly asked about the best methods being used.

The main focus that applies to all art was how to frame "archivally". You should hing mount pastels (all art on paper) on rag board (acid free cotton board). Original art work should never be dry mounted since it's permanent and not reversable. Spacers should be used for pastels and can be made from foam board by cutting an opening smaller than your mat opening. You could also build up with acid free mats cut the same way. The plastic spacers that I use when framing a pastel on board was not discussed but they are used as well and you should judge whether or not a linen liner should be added.

The border mat size is relative to the size of the painting and also one should consider double and even triple matting. (I've always shortchanged the painting by putting on too narrow of a mat and then making the whole presentation look too cramped - likewise with the single mat.) Another beautiful way of matting is to use linen mats with fillets. (I think Handel uses this method.)

Tomorrow I will start my new part-time job at a high-end frame shop where the main business is restoration and conservation. I'll be learning how to restore frames and apply gold leaf and also oil painting restoration. I can't wait!:)

07-02-2007, 11:05 AM
Sounds very interesting doe, and good luck and best wishes for the new job!!

07-02-2007, 11:10 AM
Just logged on to your online portfolio, and loved the Marsh. It's very similar to what we have round parts of where I live, and something I would like to capture too. Well done - a good piece of work.

lacey sprocket
07-02-2007, 11:30 AM
And just in time! I have a stack of about 200 drawings I've done this year, and I'm going to need to frame a couple of them sooner or later. How do you do this "hinging"? Is it like when you collect stamps (don't laugh, but when I was a kid...)?

Have fun at your new job!

07-02-2007, 02:50 PM

For works on paper, instead of using messy hinging tape, I like to use Lineco 'See Through Mounting Strips' that have a mylar-foam ledge for your work. You attach these to the backing board, and then no adhesive is actually placed on the artwork paper, so the piece floats.

When I've matted my own work, I always use an undermat so that any loose pastel particles will stay hidden on the undermat, without dirtying the top mat.

I'd be interested to find out if when you gold leaf, if you use actual gold leaf or imitation gold leaf.

Any advice you can pass along is appreciated.

07-02-2007, 05:13 PM
Thanks Pabs for the compliment on my marsh painting!

Lacey, here's a link to a good article on hinging - I don't know anything about how stamps are hinged.: http://www.pictureframingmagazine.com/pdfs/mastermount/NOV04_USINGHINGES.pdf

(hope I put the link in correctly)

Artist - those lineco things sound interesting, I'll have to look into that! Yes it's real 22k gold. I've already seen most of the frames I'll be working on and the restoration work will usually be with the real gold (It's so beautiful!) and following procedures and materials used on the original frame. Usually the frames need some rebuilding first then there is surface prep and then the leaf is applied and finally it is toned to match the era.

Thanks for all your well wishes - this is the type of job I've always wanted! Originally I was going to open my own shop but as it turns out this shop needs help and will teach me so much more than I could learn by attending workshops.

07-02-2007, 11:21 PM
Yes it's real 22k gold. I've already seen most of the frames I'll be working on and the restoration work will usually be with the real gold (It's so beautiful!) and following procedures and materials used on the original frame. Usually the frames need some rebuilding first then there is surface prep and then the leaf is applied and finally it is toned to match the era.

Hey, also to let you all know about one fragile point of gold leaf frames.....make sure you don't get tape anywhere on it as I made that mistake and a small amount of the gold pulled off the frame when I tried to remove the tape. I bought this frame so I did not have the original/exact color gold leaf with which to reapply it. An artist friend has applied gold leaf to frames and said that it's sometimes difficult to match the subtle shades of gold leaf when trying to repair spots. My quick fix.....I put the clear tape with the lifted gold leaf back on and kept the frame for my own walls. You can't really see it on first glance but I know it's there.

Doe, thanks for sharing your info!

07-03-2007, 02:32 AM

Thanks for this info about the real gold leaf. About the gold leaf on frames - was the gold leaf sealed - I think you're supposed to put a layer or so of sealer over the gold because it is so fragile. I keep thinking about getting some actual gold leaf from an art supply store like Jerry's when it's on sale with a good coupon in addition. I think they currently have some actual 22 and 23 carat gold leaf on sale for around $25 for 25 or so sheets and I have a cool 20% off a total order, so I might get some.

07-03-2007, 08:13 AM
Too bad about the tape incident Cindy. All I know right now is that it can be repaired and what is done is new gold is applied to the spot and then you use stains to match it to the rest of the frame.

Yes Paula - get some gold! And yes there are sealers applied. Some people use gold leaf in their art work too and it looks really great.

07-03-2007, 10:04 AM
....what is done is new gold is applied to the spot and then you use stains to match it to the rest of the frame.

Thanks, Doe!! :) We didn't know about stains. I'll look into that then.
Do you think that the frame company didn't seal their frame properly or does regular scotch tape have a very strong adherance to it and that pulling off of gold would have happened no matter?


07-04-2007, 08:36 AM
Cindy - it seems like it may not have a very heavy seal on it although the gold leaf is fragile and I would expect that a sticky tape might be able to remove it. Also it depends on which type of gilding it is. I'm learning that the newer antique frames are oil gilded and the application on the brand new frames can vary. Yesterday I was working on a very old frame that was water gilded and the gold was still very sturdy. The repairs were mainly to the corners that get bumped and chipped and that had nothing to do with the gold peeling off.

If there is a framer in your neighborhood that does conservation and restoration work they might be able to fix your frame pretty quickly since they would have all the necessary materials on hand already.

So much to learn and so little time!

07-05-2007, 08:44 AM
Hi Doe, thanks for doing this.
I am always a bit at a loss with spacers. I have never seen plastic spacers here in the UK and always see pastels just framed with a mat, and no spacers. I prefer spacers though as it keeps the mat clean over time.

For a while I used double sided tape to stick strips of matboard behind my mat, but I figured the double sided tape was hardly archival and will get brittle (spelling?) and dry up over time, perhaps even creating stains. So now I thought it best to cut a mat with a slightly smaller opening than the top mat. That works good, but I do find I need an awful lot of material to frame. In all I'd need three pieces of mat board, one for backing board, one as a spacer and one as a mat (four pieces if I want a double mat). That is a huge package to put in a frame but mostly it is expensive!!

Then there is choice of matting with, say, 2 inches around the picturre (seems standard here) or what I sometimes like, only half an inch for a double mat. With a narrow mat like that the mat becomes an extension of th frame and I quite like that look.
But to frame to suit all tastes (you never know who's gonna buy) I suppose I should go with the wide mat. The trouble with that is that a 12x16" picture becomes 14x18 mat-sized and probably 16x20 framed and all. That's huge for most walls!
So there you go - all my framing ponderings.

Good for you re the frame school and job - sounds like fun!!

07-05-2007, 07:29 PM
Thanks Sophie - the new job is fun - and I'm learning alot!

Regarding all your framing ponderings - they're the same as mine which is partly what drove me to go to framing school. (Yes, I think the tape will get brittle over time.) Framers use an ATG - Automatic Tape Gun that rolls the glue out in a neat line and there is no tape to break down later on. It would be a nice tool to have along with a decent point driver.

The 2" mat might be ok for smaller work...

(although recently I framed a very small painting - 6x8 - with a double mat - 5" border - with a weighted bottom and loved it because it looked so important!)...

but makes the art look cramped on larger pieces and with matted pieces you can go large - 3" or 3 1/2" then use a narrow frame and have an elegant look. A narrower frame can keep the size and price down a bit.

If you double mat you don't really need a spacer though because you can use a color on the bottom mat and it will hide pastel dust better. The bevel on the mat can also be colored or gilded. An 8 ply mat will give you more space and again I'd probably gild the bevel especially with pastels. The method that I mentioned that Albert Handell uses with a linen mat and fillets gives you space and the fillet protects the mat, although you need another piece of 2 ply ragboard mat under the linen mat because it is not acid free - pricey.

Re the plastic spacers -here's where I get mine:

Framing can become costly but I've seen the difference in presentation and think that sometimes it might be worth it to do it right. The museum glass is also very impressive and costly but I'm starting to think it makes a huge difference in appearance. My own plan is to start choosing one piece at a time to "upgrade" the framing on and I'm sure some won't make the cut.:)

07-07-2007, 01:15 PM
Hi Doe,

Has your teacher mentioned about the lower part of the mat being eventually wider than the top one ?

Kind regards,


07-07-2007, 05:36 PM
Hi Jose' - I'm not sure what you mean but possibly you mean that the border width is the same on three sides and wider on the bottom - that's called a weighted bottom or museum matting. It looks really sharp!

07-07-2007, 08:05 PM
Hi again,

Yes, that's what I meant. I usually do that.

Kind regards,