Materials · Productivity · Step-by-step · Technique

The Framing Process

I’ve learned that I do a much better job with the framing process if I break it down into small steps. In other words do one step of the process on 3 or 4 paintings on one day and another step on those 3 or 4 on another day until all the steps are done.

In other words: Day 1: Gather all the frame-able works together and measure them carefully and select and order the frames.

When the frames arrive is Day 2 because I’ve learned that sometimes that space behind the inside edge of the frame may be a little different than expected, so I measure that space and then order the glass as I want a snug but not too tight fit.

Day 3: By this time we are probably a month to a month and a half down the line because it takes that long to get this stuff. I begin assembly of the art in frame. And the first step requires that I clear out a space in which to work. Table tops in my house fill quickly and so clearing them can take me several hours. I would prefer to spend a day clearing and cleaning in preparation.

Day 4: Actually assembling. Glass goes in with the correct side facing the art. Spacers are cut to size and go in. Art gets trimmed if needed and is then inserted. I normally mount the pastel paper BEFORE I paint now, but I have a few older ones that will require mounting before framing so that step will happen before trimming. I don’t trim until I have the frame and glass on hand because, like I said about the frames, they may not be exact. Backing (normally acid free foam core) is cut to size and inserted. At this point I’m tired and call it a day.

Day 5: I glue on white paper backing. I used to tape this on, but I found out it does not stay, so now I glue. I then attach the cleaning instruction sticker for the glass and my own identification sticker (basically my business card on a sticker) and write on it the title of the piece and the year it was painted. I will normally commandeer the dining room table for this gluing process because I can lay out all of the paintings, glue on the  paper,  lay large pieces of matt board across them and weight them down with books while the glue dries overnight.

Day 6: Installation of the hanging wires. I drill and use screws and real hanging wire for this. The hardest part for me is triple checking that I am putting the things on the right way up.

Day 7: Wrap for storage until delivery. Corner padding and clear plastic wrap seems to work pretty well. IF large, I’ll put a sheet of glassine over the glass before I wrap it.

Now, I have to admit, framing oils is a whole lot easier. I let the piece cure/dry, I varnish and let cure/dry some more. I measure again and order a frame. In 2018 all of my frames will be black or black with a gold liner. Since I work on boards that are cut commercially, I find that I can often find frames at yard sales and thrift stores that are often the right standard sizes. I may have to do some work to them, however, like gluing and clamping, sanding, filling, painting  and gilding. I love finding some cool antique frame and making the front look good and clean, but leaving the back as I found it to show it’s age but I will remove old hanging wires and attachments in most cases.  But once I have the frame in hand and ready to go and the varnish is good and dry, I pop it in the frame. I use push points or tiny tacking nails to keep it in place and insert the backing if needed to fill the rabbet space. If backing was used, I also glue on the  paper backing. My sticker goes on with the title and date. I normally also write this on the back of the actual painting in case it is separated from the frame at some point. I should probably do that on the pastels, and only just thought of it… so something to add to my steps there. Finally, out comes the drill and screw bits and hanging wire is attached. Now, I haven’t ever wrapped up the oils as I want them to continue to cure and do not want to trap moisture. When I have transported more than one, I’ve just layered them in blankets in the car. I have not yet shipped a framed oil.

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