View Full Version : Are there any alternative ways to frame pastels?

Eleonora Manapova
04-20-2009, 07:13 PM
Hello to lovely pastel artist's society of WC.

My question probably is typical for newbie in medium but I'll be glad to know WC member's opinions about framing abstract pastel body I already posted here.
I have an exhibition in 2 weeks and the gallery asked my to bring all of 10 pieces of this body. I've never framed pastels and paintings (most of my art had a gallery wrap).
I can't spend $100-150 for framing one piece because prices for those artworks are around $160-$250(artist price without g.% and framing costs) for one piece.
So what is better option - to frame professionally with matting 2-3 pieces(I didn't expect to frame all this this body at one time and so soon) - or to find alternative cheap way to frame it and offer to the gallery all ten as they asked. The gallery has a different price range of artworks.
First thing came to my mind - to use a photo frames with acrylic on it , 12" x16" =$15 and 24"x18" = $30 at Michaels....but it will look so cheap...
I would like to frame it without mat for having a look like a painting not drawing thats why I looked at the poster frames.
IF somebody knows where to find ready frames with mat with opening 12"x16" and 18"x24" - pleease tell me!
I've alredy bought ready made frame with glass to try - totally disappointed - deep frame and thick glass made this funny sunny abstract artwork look dull and sad with greenish grayish tints. :o

Any ideas will be appreciated!!

04-20-2009, 07:38 PM
Your work has a lovely contemporary feel to it, and I think you could easily use some good quality metal frames without mats and plain, not non-glare, glass. You could use a neutral color such as black or white, or choose one of the colors in the artwork to match the frames. Sacramento is a large enough city to have places where you should be able to get the frames and glass cut to size. Perhaps not for the very low prices at Michaels (and their custom frame shop around here is known to be very expensive so I'm not suggesting you go there). Some people have placed the artwork directly against the glass when framing this way, but if you can find the channel spacer that will hold the glass away from the artwork it will be more archivally framed. The only "down side" to this method is needing to have the artwork mounted on a firm backing board. Without doing this the paper buckles, and that doesn't look good.

There are on line places where you can get the frames and acrylic sheeting (plexi) too - such as American Frame or Dick Blick (don't know if they have the acrylic though).

Perhaps the frame and glass you bought looks unappealing is because the glass is either too thick or is non-glare. You might consider repleacing just the glass.

There's lots of advice on how to frame pastels elsewhere on this forum so you might do a search to see if another method will work better for you.


04-21-2009, 12:03 AM
I just took a pastel in to get it framed and the framer was kind enough to explain a few things. He suggested conservation glass because regular glass apparently has a green tint to it that darkens the work. To protect my work enroute I put it into an existing frame with regular glass. He took the work out of that frame, and showed me the work 1/2 behind my glass and 1/2 behind conservation glass. Yup - the my glass had a tint to it. This doesn't solve your problem of framing all these pieces at once (envy).

Now for fact and myth: Could someone please set me straight. I thought that acrylic or plexiglass holds a static charge that can attract pastel off of the support, onto the glass.

Nandia, your abstracts are wonderful!

Paula Ford
04-21-2009, 01:13 AM
Nadia, I don't use mats. Because most of my work is done on pastelbord, I just apply framespace/econospace to the inside of the glass and pop the painting in, seal the back and I'm done. I have my own point driver and usually keep lots of acid free foam board to use as a backing to the painting, if room allows. It looks neater if there is nice white foam board backing the piece.

Most of my frames (until recently) came from Hobby Lobby when they are 50% off. Glass is cheap there also. When they have a 40% coupon, you can use that for the glass. Econospace can be purchased here ... http://www.frametek.com/index.html

Peggy, I ordered recently from American Frame. They are a class act! I will definately order from them again. Thank you for the recommendation.

04-21-2009, 12:24 PM
Now for fact and myth: Could someone please set me straight. I thought that acrylic or plexiglass holds a static charge that can attract pastel off of the support, onto the glass. quote]

Yes, plexi/acrylic may produce enough static charge to attract the pastels. However, this can be controlled as well as "dusting" of a pastel under glass. First of all, lightly seal the pastels with a high quality, archival spray fixative (properly applied it will not darken your pastels!). There's even a new one on the market that doesn't have any smell and may be used in an enclosed room... it is named Spectra Fix and you can read about it on another posting in this forum. Two other brands of "smelly" fixatives are Prismacolor and Lascaux. Then use an appropriate anti-static cleaner on both sides or the plexi/acrylic, and leave at least a 1/4 inch space between the plexi/acrylic and your artwork. I've shipped pastels all over the country without incident when using this method, and then left them that way once they returned home - sometimes permanently.

Glad to know you like American Frame Paula. They really are a class act. If they make a mistake they make it right. (happened only once for me in about 15 years)


Eleonora Manapova
04-21-2009, 07:42 PM
I went to different framers yesterday and tried to find good looking frame for this abstract body ( 99% of frames just don't matches with this art)without paying $$$. All custom "appropriate" ( at least look like something not dollar store stuff) framing they estimate at least $90. At the end of my tour I went to aaron brothers and have found finally ready made frames that match with artworks (unexpectedly not golden, white, black, wooden, but German silver frame with nice thin glass without green tint) so I bought pair of frames went home put artworks into it and at first I was happy, when - puzzled because those nice looking frames($22 and $29) have very shallow profile and as they recommended to put spacer btw artwork and glass - won't be easy. I'll try to put spacer 1/16 but if it won't fit I have to find the way how to extend those securing backing metal chips for having more thick sandwich with spacers - not just glass, paper and Masonite board.:rolleyes:
With last artwork which is 20"x26" I will hardly find ready made frame :( and seems like I'll have to do custom framing.

Thank you So Much Peggy for your help, precious info!
Thank you Paula, O-oo having a pastel board instead of flimsy fragile paper is so wise and solid! Thank you for your links so again!

TO NRC - I ve been told yesterday the same by framers about acrylic or plexi. For my very econo budget for this body I don't consider plexi because they told its more expensive than glass. Thank you for your kind words about those abstracts.
I attached photo I made - it was dark in room and not a best photo at all( my camera's settings or smt. is saturating the colors) but I can't wait to hear your opinions about how it looks and advices how to secure more thicker backing if it is possible.

Paula Ford
04-21-2009, 07:49 PM
They look great in those frames!!

With last artwork which is 20"x26" I will hardly find ready made frame and seems like I'll have to do custom framing.

That's why I only use standard sizes... 5x7, 8x10, 11x14, 16x20, and 18x24.

04-21-2009, 08:54 PM
Perhaps not for these particular paintings, but something to think about in the future is buying the pieces and putting things together yourself. I like to use metal frames, and when I do, I buy the glass (or plexi) and the frame from the framers. The frame comes in pieces (with the hardware) so I have to assemble it - but it is very easy. I also cut my own mats, but have had mats cut at the framers, too. I don't know how much I save, but it is cheaper than having the framer assemble it all.


Eleonora Manapova
04-21-2009, 10:15 PM
You right, Don! Think about framing before painting and do frames by yourself (or at least assemble it, as at aaron brothers they asked $29 dollars for just spacer $9 + work $20-putting it into a frame for one piece.
I'm glad you like frames I picked, Paula!

04-22-2009, 03:54 PM
Nandia your frames are lovely, but I don't have an acceptable answer to your question about extending the back to create room for the spacers. One thing galleries and customers look for is professional looking framing, and having the back extend beyone the back of the frame isn't professional. There is a reason those shallow depth frames are inexpensive! They want you to buy thier more expensive custome stuff. I agree with Don. It doesn't take much to learn how to assemble your own metal frames, and you can buy them deep enough to use the spacers. They come in some very nice designs now - not just those narrow strips we've known for years.

As for the framers opinion regarding plexi and pastels... I didn't mention I worked in a gallery that did framing for 14 years because I've mentioned it so many times before on WC. Yes, plexi may be more expensive than glass, but check out the prices on American Frames and you'll probably learn it isn't that much more expensive. They even have the very nice museum acrylic that is much like museum glass. That one is more expensive, but sometimes worth the expense! Unfortunately, saving money on framing is very difficult for artists who don't want to or can't do the work themselves nor have access to buying wholesale. You can do it, but the "price" is often a finished product that isn't professional in presentation.

btw Don, I think if you wanted to take the time to do a price comparison you'd find you do save a large amount of money by doing as you are in framing. I'm fortunate to own professional framing equipment, purchased when a frame shop went out of business, and I have access to buying all framing supplies at wholesale in Seattle. When I did a comparison of several commercial framers (including Aaron Bros and Michaels), I found their mark-up over wholesale is anywhere from 8 to 10 times wholesale prices!


Eleonora Manapova
04-22-2009, 06:34 PM
Thank you Peggy for your answer, you right ready made frame doesn't have a potential for any kind of "inventions"
I went to there again to buy more frames with different sizes, which is luck, because my two artworks hae a 20"x26" and I found the same design frame with 20"x24" which is fine so I don't need custom framing for bigger pieces now :thumbsup:. I'm not affiliated with that aaron store but seemed like it was an option for this body (I didn't even plan its gonna be a body when I started with first one)
They showed me yesterday over there how amazingly smallest spacer (1/16) will fit into this frames so I think I'll order it in bundle from online stores you gave me, thank you, its much cheaper for sure.
They told me yesterday that this spacer will hold paper in place in artworks with 12"x16" without any mounting it on backing, and for bigger pieces I'll mount it with adhesive tape (TOMBO, acid free). I hope paper won't start buckling as they promised. There are 6-7 months of pretty hot and dry weather in Sacto.
I really like the fact all works with 3 sizes are framed in same design frames and it look like a whole body, even its cheap ( I think its a plactic) "budjet" frames without mats.

04-22-2009, 07:04 PM
I always get my frames at Aaron Brothers during their semi-annual 1 cent sales, so basically for half their normal price, which gets them somewhat closer to affordable. I also pick up matting there or at a local art store, then I do my own matting. And of course you price to make it worth your time.

October Artist
08-01-2009, 09:17 AM
I would also like some input on the glass/plexiglass question. I only use glass at this point, but really get concerned transporting all my art in my vehicle and would like to experiment with the plexiglass. I have read somewhere that you can spray the plexiglass to prevent the static. does anyone do this? And what do you use? Also, I have tried to fix some test sheets of theWallis that I work on and it just ruins the pastel, blows it around. Any feedback on this also?

08-01-2009, 04:47 PM
Hi, Octoberartist, welcome! Can't help with the static reducer, but I'm sure someone will know. One thing to do is to always use a damp cloth when dusting, never a dry one as it will generate static.

What brand of fixative did you use? You may have sprayed too close to the painting, so the gases blew the dust around. I think a distance of 2 feet or so is fine. Not too far away, as it will make the fixative dry in the air before reaching the painting, and not too close as that will usually drench the area, but may also blow off dust.


08-02-2009, 08:40 PM
I have read several times that the static preventing spray is only temporary. If it eventually wears off it would mean taking the painting apart and cleaning the glass and reapplying the spray. I have never tried the spray myself.