View Full Version : Framing a curved mounted Wallis: mat spacer, reverse cut or Econospacer?

02-28-2010, 10:49 AM
I finally ponied up and bought a mat cutter in January. It has become my mortal enemy.

Since the first of the year, on the first of each month, I have four pieces due for the gallery rotation. This is my weekend to freak out about it.

Before the mat cutter, I framed plein air style, straight into the frame. This is relatively easy to do with the Econospacers.

This month, however, I will try to frame my first pastel. It is way too busy to go straight into a frame, so I am providing some resting space with the mat and I hope I get it right before the fourth try this time.

My first question is about the Econospacer technique. I understand that you should hang pieces on the backboard so they can breathe. I have a couple issues with that. The painting is on mounted Wallis, so it is thicker. Also, mounted Wallis has a disgusting rolled up curve to it, so it would not hang flat.

Under normal circumstances, do you put the Econospacers near the mat opening or at the frame's edge or both? Do they stay stuck to paper like they do glass?

Although the mixed media pieces I matted or mounted on matboard last month eventually came out fine, I am really bad at framing and I have no idea how to do this piece. Honestly, I'd like to pull out a stapler!

Should I cut a second piece of mat board to serve as a spacer instead of the Econospacers and have it also serve to pin down the mounted Wallis as well as be the dust collector? Won't I lose a lot of the painting this way by making the presentation mat's opening smaller? Is it acceptable if you can peer in and see any of the workings under the top mat?

Or would it be easier to do a reverse cut and trap the whole thing under the top mat while also being a dust collector?

With either of the last two options, what about the mounted Wallis thickness gap behind the previous board between it and the backing board? Do I need to support it because of the space left by the thickness of the mounted Wallis? What should I use? It would be thinner that the 1/8" foam core I have. Would strips of watercolor paper or other neutral paper work?

Thank you so much for your input. I know this is a lot of questions. I have to finish this up today.

02-28-2010, 11:58 AM
When I use mats I don't use a spacer. I usually use two mats - the bottom one's opening cut just a fraction of an inch larger to act as the spacer. I don't believe anyone will notice, or peer in to see that 1/8th inch or so overlap.

Reverse cut work, too.

To attach the work to the backboard, you might want to try "See-Thru mounting Strips" which is what I use when mounting a painting that's on a thicker paper or board.


Hope this helps.


02-28-2010, 12:47 PM
Thanks, Don, for the info and the link. Unfortunately, it won't help me today! Maybe next month.

I am curious if sticky strips actually attach to sanded paper (and + or - to the pastel that might be there.) Also, they'd have to be very strong to hold down this mounted Wallis.

I guess I will do the layered mat board. Just wish I were better at cutting this stuff accurately. Thanks goodness I have lots to play with.


Deborah Secor
02-28-2010, 12:51 PM
Bonnie, when I frame with a mat I like to use a spacer mat, and then I don't need frame spacers. With a painting mounted to a board I usually arrange it so the board is the same size as the outside edge of the mats (when I can plan ahead) so that I put a clean backing board down, then my mounted painting, then the mat with the 3/16" spacer attached to the back, then the glass, and over that the frame.

However, if your mounted painting is smaller than the package (frame size), I suggest that you hinge it with several strips of good linen tape (or the product Don mentions above) to the top back rail of the bottom mat. When you put the curled board into the frame the mats will flatten it, if the warp is only slight.

We also have a framing forum where you might find more help, too!


02-28-2010, 03:45 PM
Deborah, that is a great idea. Thanks for describing it. I could add a spacer mat under a two-layer visible mat to give a dust gutter, and still have the painting come out looking lovely. I was just going to use a double mat on Charlie's painting, both archival mats. I bought self adhesive linen hinges to stick it to the foam board back board.

This is my first go at doing a serious framing job rather than just improvised, so I want to get everything right.

02-28-2010, 05:01 PM
Thanks very much, Deborah. The idea of hanging it from the back spacer mat is much more appealing than lining it up on the backing board. I've heard both ways - people only do it to the mat or to the backing board. Whatever works!

I considered going to the framing board, but I know how active and knowledgeable folks are here. You proved me right again.

Deborah Secor
02-28-2010, 07:42 PM
A long time a go a framer taught me an easy way to hinge a painting to a mat. Lay your painting flat and stick a piece or two of plain old masking tape to the back of the painting along the top, so that the tape isface up, leaving some sticking up above the top of the work. Then hover your mat opening over the painting until it's in the right spot to center the work and place the mat down. Reach behind and stick the tape in place, and then carefully turn the art and mat package over and place T-hinges along the top only. (And be sure to remove the masking tape before putting the back board in place.) It works very well for pastels.

It's my habit to mat the painting, then turn it over and sign it, so that my signature is well inside the mat. Then I clean the glass and place it on top of the matted painting, and I'm ready to begin the framing process.