View Full Version : Reverse Bevel Mounting/matting

04-06-2008, 06:53 PM
Hi Everyone,

I am really dim and I can't seem to find the exact answer I am looking for so wondered if anyone could explain reverse bevel framing to me with regards to single mat/mounts or double mounts.

How exactly does it work?

Does it not look strange with the bevel reversed?

I am really getting into my pastels now, and would like to move over to them exclusively for my portrait work, but would like to know the best way of framing them as a lot of my work is shipped framed.

Many thanks

04-06-2008, 07:07 PM

if you want to show the bevel (namely if the bevel has a different colour), then you'll need two mats since the one placed the opposite way will stand behind (forming a pyramid with the bevels) - I don't know if there may be mats with a two sideways bevels.
Anyway, the reason to have a mat placed with it's bevel against the work (where talking pastels here) is so that the pastel particles that eventualy may dislodge from the work may fall behind the bevel, this no becomming visible.
Mind that the bigger the distance between the work and the glaze, the less clear/defined becomes the image (unless using a quality glazing)

Kind regards,


04-06-2008, 08:15 PM
a reverse bevel is a mat in which the 'white line' of the 45-degree angle cut is not seen. it is basicly cut from the front of the mat instead of the backside, and you can use one,two, three mats, whatever you like. it does have a nice look, too, but i find it more difficult to cut using the simple mat cutters us 'common folk' general have. it eliminates the white line because the bevel is 'reversed'.

we are all sooooo used to that white line, it does sound odd to not have it! but it is used more often than you'd think. i'll include a couple photos (sorry about the glare, but you get the idea). i used a rusty top mat, and a very dark coffee bottom mat. i'd do it alot more if it weren't so tricky. i esp. like it on a darker painting, as the white line can be a distraction, or instead i could just use a black core mat. i also think that many ppl see a mat and think ''print'', which does nothing for the sales and respect issues pastel sometimes comes across! this piece also had mat board strips between the 2 mats, by adhering them to the backside of the top mat, to add some dimension.

04-06-2008, 09:30 PM

You can also use a thin undermat under your main mats to hide pastel particles that might dislodge. I make those out of thinner mat board when I use mats, and those help. If the inner showing mat has an interior dimension of 14x16, I would cut the undermat to be about 14.5x16.5 with the same outer dimensions so that there would be about 1/4 of an inch around on all sides so the undermat does its job and doesn't show. Hope this helps, too.

Donna A
04-07-2008, 12:54 AM
<snip> i also think that many ppl see a mat and think ''print'', which does nothing for the sales and respect issues pastel sometimes comes across!

I think chewie has a great point, unfortunately. I've always preferred the look of linen liners, so have always used them on my pastels, though the last couple/three years have gone more and more to simply using a framing spacer and used only a 3" or wider frame and nothing else.

We can also simply cover a mat with 'linen' (only needs to look good! and doesn't have to be terrifically pricey!) Also---covering a mat can 'fix up' an old smudged mat or one that's been overcut. And---just looks so much richer!!!

I have been doing most of my linen liners by covering pH-balanced mat board---often with filets on the inner edge, but I've also used the thinner versions of the mat board and simply burnished an easy curve on the inside edge. Any of those methods can look soooo good!

I know a lot of people add a space behind a mat but I have trouble imagining how it does any great good except in earthquake-prone areas when vibrations as a painting hangs on the wall might let some pigment fall straight down. But I think it's with handling a painting that it's most likely any errant pigment may go flying---and then how is it to know to go hiding behind the mat unless it's always held very, very carefully vertical with top always on top---and I can't fantasize that happening every time when someone carries our painting when unpacking for a show, or hanging in a gallery---or shipping FedEx, etc. And on top of that---I've never cared for the shadows that are cast on the painting's surface. But I know it makes some folks feel better---and that's important, too.

I've never had any trouble at all with pastel coming off on to the liner, but then I always spray fix (and have never had a painting darken.)

One thing the white edge does between two colored mats is give an extra color accent. Then there are the black-core mat boards---and then I've seen the white edge colored, which can also give an additional colored accent.

Still, the reverse bevel does give yet another option. Lots of possibilities! Take good care! Donna ;-}

04-07-2008, 07:04 AM

Thanks everyone for your replies. I feel I have a much better understanding now, and lots of different options

Jose (sorry don't how to get the accent above the 'e' in your name)

Just to clarify your description I have drawn a rough diagram to make sure I have understood correctly cos as I mentioned earlier I am a bit dim!!!

In it the mats are both same width or would it be better to make the mat with the reverse bevel smaller than the outside mat as artist_pw describes?

Chewie That looks great. Lovely painting. I am suprised at how little you notice the mats with reverse bevels. So apart from the strips between th 2 mats you used nothing else. Oh how did you stick the strips to the mounts?

Artist_pw This is similar to Jose's method if I have understood you correctly. Do you use a normal/visible bevel for the mat you see? What type of cut do you use for the hidden mat, straight cut or reverse bevel or visible bevel?

Donna I have never heard of Linen liners before - could you show me an example? Do they have bevel cuts?

So do you think really at the end of the day that there maybe no need for reverse bevels etc. Your point about the pastel dust falling off is very true, its oly likely to happen when it is being manhandled by a delivery man (or lady!!!) and its likely to be at all sorts of angles rather than upright!!

With regards to fixing - what fixiative do you use? and what paper do you use for your pastels?

Thanks again everyone for all your help

Best wishes

04-07-2008, 01:07 PM
in the diagram you post, the reverse bevel would be further behind the 'showing' mat. usually i go about a quarter inch. its like this---you make a double mat, then flip it over so the 'top' is now bottom....you wouldn't see it, right? like that for a channel to let loose dust fly. i dont' see so much help in loose dust getting caught, but if the painting happens to rub against the mat edge, i get pigment on my mats that way, so if i use this 'channel', the pretty top mats dont' touch the painting, and i dont' get dirty mats. i use either ph nuetral glue or acid free atg tape for the strips i use on back, the strips are just cut off parts of previous mat jobs. less waste! this way i don't have to use up good board for unseen purposes, and it works just fine. some ppl use foam board to add space for extra dimension. i seldom have frames that can handle that 'fat' of a package.

the spacer and wide frames is also a great way to go, i like doing that with bigger pieces so there wont' be added weight of the glass that has to then cover huge mats.

go to donna's website, you can learn lots there about fix, wrapping mats, etc.

Donna A
04-07-2008, 01:39 PM

Thanks everyone for your replies. I feel I have a much better understanding now, and lots of different options

Donna I have never heard of Linen liners before - could you show me an example? Do they have bevel cuts?
Hi, Sarah! Linen Liners have traditionally been wooden 'framework' with a beveled edge (to trim down the thickness of the wood's edge for ''cosmetic" reasons (that is, to make it look less bulky and have more visual interest) and then the wood is covered with a linen fabric. Liners have also had profiles with curves rather than only flat planes.

I found that the pH-balanced (or acid-free, as is also known) foamcore board could make a wonderful lightweight base for a linen liner for a pastel painting (or a watercolor or an oil that is painted on a 'large flat, unstretched piece of canvas,' etc. With this liner and the backing board cut the same size, it makes for a wonderful lightweight, elegant, fairly easy and rather expensive-looking low-cost surrounding for a painting---and a 3" linen liner (with or without a strip of filet along the inner edge) looks wonderful in a good 1" to 1.5" frame.

Here is a link to directions and illustrations on wrapping a liner:

Scroll down the center column to "Wrapping Linen Liners and click on the link to take you to that page. There are step-by-step illustrations---and notes on the left about the general directions for each step. I MUST get the details added in the paragraphs to the right. :rolleyes: One of these days---but will answer any questions you have in the meantime. I use 3-M Super 77 Spray Contact Cement and VERY carefully spray both the face of the already-cut foam board and the back of the uncut fabric.

The cool trick is----don't try to place the fabric over the board! Have the nicely wrinkle-free uncut, sprayed fabric laying face down (can be on the sheet where you sprayed it) and then pick up the sprayed, cut foam board---hold it carefully over the fabric to visually line up the two pieces---then gently lay down the foam onto the fabric. Press against one side to make sure it holds well, then carefully pick it all up and lay face up onto a clean backing paper on another area of the table. Then you can carefully press down everything perfectly. Then you can easily follow the illustrations on the Linen Liners page.

What I described above actually goes really fast---once the board is cut and measured (drastically faster than cutting a mat!!!) and cut and perhaps ironed the fabric if needed. All EASY things!

So do you think really at the end of the day that there maybe no need for reverse bevels etc. Your point about the pastel dust falling off is very true, its oly likely to happen when it is being manhandled by a delivery man (or lady!!!) and its likely to be at all sorts of angles rather than upright!!

I just would never bother with adding that gap. I'm going to make sure that, unless there is a massive crashing blow that would likely also be damaging frame and/or glass---the pastel will be able to stay in place with anything up to and including "reasonably rough-ish" handling. :rolleyes: So far, over many years, across the country and beyond---so good. Lot of Fed-Ex, etc. trips, in vans across town and across the country many times.

With regards to fixing - what fixiative do you use? and what paper do you use for your pastels?
I'm using the information shared by the Head Curator of the National Gallery, Ross Merrill---and their extensive research there on this subject suggested to them that the best choice was Grumbacher's Tuffilm Final---and that product was sold to PrimsaColor last year---so that is what I'm using now and Ross Merrill noted several other brands that are also very good---Lascaux, being one of them. Here is a link to a page about Fixative with a number of illustrations plus Ross Merrill's comments.

I've never had a pastel painting darken using this way of fixing. You have to get a painting wet to darken it. For those who complain about fixing runining their paintings---they are not using the fix correctly. Yes--the pigment will still wipe off if smeared---but otherwise, has worked perfectly for me.

I use Art Spectrum's Colourfix papers, boards and/or Primers and have come to adore them madly joyfully after decades of trying--always experimenting considerably---with pretty much everything! I'm working on a Pan Pastel on a 40"x28" board right now. Of course, a lot of the PanP paintings don't even need fixing. They are sooo much lower dust in general, but with some of those pieces, I have also used some fix mid-way thru for isolating areas for technical reasons.

Anywayyyyyy---when I can, I'll photo a couple of different liner looks for you---with and without filet, etc. Take good care! Best wishes! Donna ;-}

Thanks again everyone for all your help

Best wishes

04-07-2008, 05:05 PM
Chewie I have attached another diagram - I am rather fond of my diagrams :lol: is this what you mean?

I had never really thought of the fact the mount may rub against the painting and cause the pigment to drop. Of course I can see that is very likely. Great point.

Thanks for all this wonderful info Donna. I am going to take the time to follow your link and the info in more detail over the next couple of days (i have an 18 month old who runs me ragged most of the time!! I have attached a photo of her - any excuse to show off my pride and joy :D ) so I would like to read it carefully and take it in porperly.

I have a Lascaux Fixative - called Acrylic Fixative designed for everything virtually bar oils. I thought it was a final fixative, but reading the back it says 'one good coat is adequate for most wrok. Dries in minutes and may be covered with any artistic medium'

So it implies to me it may be a workable fixative??

I must be honest and haven't noticed any fixative darkening my work when I have used it. I spray at a reasonble distance, and perhaps a few times but only very lightly. I never viewed a fixative as sealing a painting completely but just to give that extra bit of protection.

I have not used Colourfix yet, but have some to try and can't wait. I am trying Fisher400 paper which is a sanded paper with a very fine grit at the moment. It is made in the UK but I think you can get it shipped elsewhere. I will find out if anyone is interested.

I have tried velour, love it and hate it. I do mainly animal portraits and this paper is great for fur, but it takes very few layers, no option to erase and one light tap and all the pastel seems to fall off :eek:

I have some suede mount baord to try too, but I really like this Fisher400 paper as it seems to take many layers which I am hoping the colourfix will too. I love layers.

I want to try Wallis and Royal Soveriegn card. Eric Wilson does awesome work on the RS card.

Once again thanks for all the info and I look forward to reading it in depth

Take care

04-07-2008, 06:58 PM
You don't even need that inside reverse if you use that configuration. As Chewie said, you can just glue mat trims to create a space between the front mat and your painting. The front mat bevel can be reversed or not, as you prefer. You'd only use a reverse bevel on the inside mat if you are wanted to add a trim color but didn't want colored dust falling down on the mats. You might also want to use a reverse bevel on the outside mat, but the white line can be a decorative element. And for some paintings, an added space creates an attractive "shadow box" effect.

Here are some of my observations: if a painting is framed soon after it is made, that is when you are most likely to get dislodged particles (I've seen them especially on other folks paintings that are "touched up" for shows, or on paintings with many layers, or heavy applications of pastel).

I've noticed that at least where I live, if I let a painting set for a day or so, the pastel layers tend to consolidate. This is probably also what happens when a pastel is wrapped and stored for a while. In the summer, when the air here is very humid (sucky), sometimes the pastel builds up so quickly that it gets almost pasty and overloads the support. (I've learned not to do pastel painting on days like that-- I don't have air conditioning.)

It seems that dustiness is more likely to be a problem in dry climates. I get much more dust when I paint on our winter days with dry heated air. No wonder you folks in the desert prize sanded supports for their holding power so much! Those dry air days are the ones I am most likely to use a lightly sanded surface, or lightly fix. I also learned to really think about how to create my painting with as few layers as possible, and without the heavy hand I sometimes am guilty of (oh that luscious color!).

I've often wondered if perhaps those pastelists of earlier generations were using steam simply trying to raise the humidity in the area of the painting , not directly steaming the paintings themselves. That's a conjecture, unsupported by a search of literature-- but it makes some sense. The point would not be to actually dampen the paper or pastels, but allow the temporarily increased humidity to give the pastel particles a chance to "set".

When I first started framing my pastels, I used several techniques to create a space for the anticipated dust to fall into. Then I noticed that as long as I handled my pastels by the edges, and protected them from abrasion, I didn't have problems with dust falling. I even turned the things upside down to secure and cover the back. No dust on the glass.

I always do use a spacer of some sort to keep some distance between the glazing and the pastel, but that is mainly to keep the painting, which is, after all, usually on flexible paper, away from the glass. Mostly I use a regular double mat with a decorative inner mat, or a top mat with mat strips underneath as spacers. (You would need to allow more space though if you used acrylic instead of glass, as many galleries and shows require if you ship.)

Recently, while picking up a pastel I was framing but had not yet secured, I did not support it properly, and it fell out of the frame. Luckily, this was one I'd done up with Frametek (the kind that goes on the edges of the glass), and then taped the edges of the glass to the foamcore backing that supported the painting. The taped "sandwich" dropped on a corner and fell over, first onto the edge, then flat onto its face. I stood there stunned, envisioning broken corner, fractured glass, torn painting, and dust all over.

Unbelievably, the plastic edging absorbed the shock so the glass didn't break, and everything was intact (wood floor, doubt this would have happened on some other floor surfaces). There were a few specks of dust on the glass-- I gently tapped the bottom edge on the table and they dropped to the bottom. Whew.

I don't advise this as a test! But it does show that maybe we don't always need to worry quite so much about falling dust as we thought. One of the reasons I began to seal the edges of my glass/mat/painting/backing package was to stabelize it against humidity and air movement. So far, so good.

Dayle Ann