How to Frame a Pastel Painting

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How to Frame a Pastel Painting

There are many things to consider when framing a work of art created with the pastel medium. The use of pastels in art dates back to the Sixteenth Century with artists like Federigo Barocci and Guido Reni. Those using the powdered pigments in modern times reflect on the illustrious history of their chosen art form. With proper care and handling, a pastel painting or sketch is a permanent medium. Pastel works never yellow with age, darken, or crack.


Considerations in Framing

The first thing to address when determining how to frame a pastel painting is the type of pastels used. There are two types: soft pastels and oil pastels. Both types require special handling when framing or transporting. Even those that have a fixative applied have a risk of damage when handled in the wrong manner. Nothing should rub or touch the surface of a pastel painting, as the pigments smear or change. This occurs whether or no a fixative has been used.

To Mat or Not to Mat

Some pastel artists prefer to use a mat or border around the pastel painting or sketch and others do not. Since oil paintings are not framed with a mat, some prefer to go without a mat when framing pastel paintings as well. Mats remind some of the border used in poster art and they believe it cheapens the effect of a framed pastel piece because of that. Many, however, prefer to use a matching or contrasting mat when framing pastel work however to prevent the glass from touching the actual pastel work.

When choosing to frame with a mat, using a non-acidic matting board is highly recommended. This is true for all artwork. Although acid-free mats limit the number of colours used in matting, they are better for the art and are more archival.

Cutting the mat or having the mat cut in a reverse bevel has a positive effect on the piece. This allows dust or debris to fall behind the matting, thus removing it from sight behind the glass. No matter how meticulous the craftsman is in framing the piece, the act itself often dislodges pastel dust. The mat should never come into direct contact with the pastel piece. The employment of spacers behind the matting prevents that.

Framing the Pastel Painting or Sketch

Considering the amount of space needed in the frame for it to accommodate the thickness of the glass, the mat, the spacers, the artwork, and the mounting board is required. Some artists prefer a wooden frame for this reason, as they tend to offer more space. Metal frame styles tend to be less accommodating. If the frame is not accommodating, using offset clips allows the frame's use.

Choosing the Glass

The glass used in the framing of a pastel piece of art should be UV filtering glass. Using Plexiglass or sheets of acrylic induces static electricity to draw the pastel dust to them. Anti-reflective glazing is encouraged. It cuts down on the glare in viewing a piece of art. Museum grade glass is also an option to consider.

Mounting the Original Pastel Painting

To prevent the original pastel painting from buckling at the bottom of the frame, it is recommended that it be mounted to an acid free backing board. Hinges at the top or corner mounts on the backing board accomplish this.


Steps in the Framing Process

There is a series of steps in the successful process of framing a pastel sketch or painting with a mat. These steps ensure that the painting does not get damaged in the framing process.

  1. Lay the frame face down.
  2. Place the clean glass within the frame
  3. Place a dust free mat with spacers over the glass
  4. Place the pastel painting and its mount over the mat. The painting should be face down.
  5. Apply a dust cover to the back of the frame. This seals the painting in the frame and protects it from dust and dirt.

Along with the previous steps, it is a good idea to look at the job from the front before entirely sealing it. This ensures that there is no visible pastel dust or smears that need to be corrected before finishing.


How to Buy Pastels and Framing Supplies on eBay

Making a list of supplies needed to execute and frame a pastel painting or sketch and then utilising the advanced search option, is the first step in the process of finding a seller. The reliable sellers on eBay have framing supplies and art supplies enough to keep every artist busy in the performance of their crafts. Pastel artwork is a well-respected field of art. When framing a pastel piece, do so with the same confidence as the masters who executed pastels in the past, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Edgar Degas.

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