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Mounting a Pastel to a Panel

Discussion in 'The Grumble' started by Woodworks by John, May 9, 2018.

  1. Woodworks by John

    Woodworks by John CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Oh boy, having never framed a pastel before and now reading through some posts about it I feel like this may be a tough one! I make custom frames and have been asked to make one for a pastel artist. Basically it's similar to a floater style frame with glass. The pastel (7" x 9") needs to be mounted on a raised box, there will be 4" of space all around it so it's inside of what could be called a shadow box which will have glass over it. My concern/question is how to I attach the pastel to that raised box? The artist wants the artwork to basically appear to be floating inside of the shadow box. Would making some sort of hinge like is done with water colors be the solution? I'm afraid that eventually there would be some gaping but if the perimeter of the art work was taped to the panel that wouldn't allow for any expansion -- any thoughts?
     
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  2. shayla

    shayla WOW Framer

    What substrate is it painted on? Is it on paper, or something else?
     
  3. CB Art & Framing

    CB Art & Framing SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Mount the paper before the artist paints.
     
    prospero, shayla and Joe B like this.
  4. Woodworks by John

    Woodworks by John CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Hi Shayla -- yes, sorry to say it is on paper. I had thought of hinges of some type but also wondered if it could be dry mounted. My disclaimer has to be that I carve and make frames and can mount canvas or panel but really not set up to do water colors, pastels, charcoal, etc. (nor do I want to be!) This is a previous client so would like to solve this dilemma. Thanks for any insight you have.
     
  5. Woodworks by John

    Woodworks by John CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Yep, that's what I'm learning and will tell her. She showed me another larger pastel she'd like to treat the same way ---- oh boy!!
     
  6. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Have the artist do the mounting if she insists on a more permanent mount. I wouldn’t touch that. If something goes wrong, you’d be the one ruining her art.

    Why the floatmount?
    How big is it?
    If you normally don’t do this kind of work, don’t start on a pastel where everything that can go wrong most likely will go wrong.
    Framing, handling a pastel can be tricky. How loose is the pastel, how much pasteldust is coming off?
     
  7. neilframer

    neilframer PFG, Picture Framing God

    I have done framing work for a nationally known pastel artist.
    She draws on 800 grit "artist" sandpaper and many of her drawings are about 40" x 60".
    They are mainly landscapes and the incredible detail in her pastels is amazing.
    You can see every vein in every leaf that she draws, I don't know how she can do it but she does.

    I always mount the 800 grit artist sandpaper to Fome Cor before she creates the artwork.
    She then takes the mounted boards and does her thing and then brings them in for framing.

    These pastels are SO delicate, they are never sprayed or fixed, and I have to be EXTREMELY careful with them.
    If you look at them the wrong way, it can cause a smear....:eek: (I never look at them the wrong way..;))
    When she brings in the finished pastel, I stand it up and block off an area around it like a crime scene so nobody can get near it...:cool:

    Then, to top it off, they get museum glass, they are shadowboxed with stained wooden strips to match the frame, and then they often get shipped to a gallery in New York.
    I always fit them from underneath so I don't turn them face down, ever.
    I worry about the shipping but that is handled by another company she uses so I've done all I can do and it seems to work.
     
    Jim Miller, tedh and shayla like this.
  8. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I would concur with the previous comments re. drymounting the paper before the drawing.
    Of course it's too late in this case. :(

    Artist's tend to not think about the practical implications of framing. But a little forethought saves
    a mountain of grief.

    As it is you are fortunate in that the piece is relatively small. You could cut a thick piece of foamcore (10mm?)
    about an inch smaller than the paper. Then hinge the piece to this by wrapping the hinges round the foam core.
    The foamcore could be bevelled inwards to cut down the viewing angle so there are no visible means of support.
    The hinges should be tight at the top and the side/bottom hinges slightly loose. Having said that, a 7x9" piece of
    paper is not going to expand too much and having the hinge point 1/2" from the edge with make the fixed portion 6x8".
    The tricky bit is applying the hinges. You will have to place the work face-down. You have to go very carefully here....
    I would give it a shake first over a sheet of white paper to see if any pigment comes off. Sounds drastic, but if it's going
    to shed particles it may as well do it before it's in a frame. If you place the work face-down on a piece of silicone release
    paper and don't slide it about you should be OK. No sudden moves. :D

    Once you have it hinged to the foamcore platform it's just a question of attaching it to the background with a few spots of PVA
    or whatever.
     
  9. Woodworks by John

    Woodworks by John CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

     
  10. Joe B

    Joe B SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Working with pastels is not easy for any of us even after having a mess of experience, one little slip can cause big problems. This is a smaller piece so shouldn't be as difficult so do as prospero recommends and you may get by without damage. Ask the artist if she will fix it so there will be less of a chance to damage to it when you or she is handling it.

    What I can't understand is why an artist will not fix a pastel. There are sprays out there today that will lock the pigments in place without doing any change to the colors. Artist just don't get it, their art is just as valuable, longer lasting, and easier to work with if it is fix when they are finished. It makes it easier for them to display it, move it, & deliver it. I just don't get it. I have about 3 or 4 artist that do fix their pastels/chalks and it is just as nice or more so than my other artist that thinks it is a crime to fix. I guess I'm just not smart enough to figure that one out...
     
    Woodworks by John likes this.
  11. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    With my artist's hat on I'd say the way to work with pastels using fixative is to do a bit - fix it lightly and
    then continue. So it's fixed in layers. Putting a heavy coat on a finished piece generally alters the whole
    look to the point where it hardly looks like a pastel.

    With my framer's hat on - never fix anyone's pastels. End of. o_O
     
    Woodworks by John likes this.
  12. shayla

    shayla WOW Framer

    Spraying lightly applied pastels seems to be safer than those that are thick. Thickly applied pastel raises the risk of layers flaking off. The area pastelist I've had the easiest time framing for works thinly, sprays in between layers, then adds one thin final coat with no spray.
     
    Woodworks by John and prospero like this.
  13. shayla

    shayla WOW Framer

    Do you use Canvas MountCor, or something more rigid?
     
  14. artfolio

    artfolio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I agree with Joe that al pastels should be fixed, preferably by the artist. The old furphy about fixative "dulling the artwork" is nonsense. Sure, the colours darken slightly when the spray hits them but it quickly evaporates and makes no difference. The biggest difference is that the artwork can be framed without the need for a paranoid level of caution.

    However, every time I see pastels exhibited there always seem to be crumbs of chalk on the Matt, probably because of handling between framing and hanging and I often wonder what my jobs look like by the time the customer gets them home.

    The best mounting technique I have seen is where the artist leaves a blank border of around half an inch so that the artwork can be mounted with a second Matt set back 5Mm or so under the visible one so that there is a sink for any crumbs to drop into.
     
    Woodworks by John and Joe B like this.
  15. shayla

    shayla WOW Framer

    Agreed! That makes them so much easier to work with. We also insert the flexpoints and drill hanger holes before fitting, and fit without lying it face down.
     
    Woodworks by John likes this.
  16. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Some folks lay the fixative on with a trowel which can make it look more like a gouache painting.
    Not so much fixing as varnishing. :confused:

    End of the day it's up to the artist. Pastels are what they are and some shedding is to be expected.
    What ever cunning methods you use there will always be one speck that ends up in the wrong place. o_O
     
    Woodworks by John likes this.
  17. Woodworks by John

    Woodworks by John CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    So, I've got some work ahead of me. Unfortunately the person needing the frame is out of town right now but you've all given me a great insight on how to best approach this --- Thanks ever so much! My plan is to have her get the piece mounted to mat or gatorboard that I can secure to the frame I'll be making with some silicone seal or other adhesive. The way I have this frame designed (in my head) I'll be able to have it face up at all times when putting it into the frame. If it's a go, I'll share my results.
     
  18. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I work with pastels. I never use fixative. I have no problems framing them.

    Fixative does alter the color. Fixative is in no way permanent. Better to frame it as a loose medium because that is what it will revert to overtime anyway.
     
    Jim Miller, prospero and neilframer like this.
  19. neilframer

    neilframer PFG, Picture Framing God

    I agree 100%.
    Yes, if the pastel is sprayed with fixative it can make the framing easier.
    But, I can always tell and see if the pastel has been sprayed as opposed to those that haven't been sprayed.
    We always frame them with a reverse bevel cut spacer mat with a slightly larger window behind the visible mat to catch any possible pastel flakes.

    The pastel artists that I work with don't want their artwork to be changed in any way by spraying with fixative.
    I defer to the artists and we frame them using techniques so that the pastels are in original condition as created.
     
    Jim Miller, Ylva and tedh like this.
  20. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Completely agree Neil. When I use pastels, I use a good toothy paper. I have done some very big pastels and I don’t always want a mat. Spacers work well.
    When I use a mat, I float the mat and reversed bevels. I also pick a color that is prominent in the art so when pastel dust falls, it is less noticeable.
     
    Jim Miller likes this.
  21. neilframer

    neilframer PFG, Picture Framing God

    I also agree with the "good toothy paper".
    The main artist I work with who creates the 40" x 60" pastel landscapes with incredible detail uses an 800 grit white sandpaper to draw on and it seems to work very well.
    It is a very fine sandpaper but it can hold the pastel just enough for artistic purposes.

    I also use the 800 grit sandpaper scraps if I need to sand a slight speck or streak out of a mat.
     
  22. Joe B

    Joe B SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    WOW Neil, you can do something many other people, including artist can't do - see the difference between fixed and unfixed pastels. If you over-fix then for sure you can but if the fixer is use the way it is suppose to be used you cannot see the difference. There are fixer spray that evaporates leaving absolutely no change to the art. I have artist that use it and swear by it. At the same time I must say that I have a couple of artist that think it is a crime to fix their pastels. Again I will say, fixing will not change the art if used properly.
     
    Woodworks by John likes this.
  23. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I should be remembered that pastel drawings are not all equal. It depends on the artist's technique and
    the substrate. Some will apply lightly and work it well into the paper. Others will just skip over the surface
    and put loads on.

    I recall one I did ages ago which was a 20x30" sheet of heavy rough paper. I'd say 80% of it was black.
    And very heavy black just clinging on. I had the bright idea of using a deep bevel (1/2"?) moulding wrapped
    in white linen tape to provide generous glass spacing. And it looked very good. But it wasn't long before it looked
    as though there had been a fall of soot on the inside. Every tried cleaning white linen tape? I ended up rubbing
    the loose pigment into the fabric to produce an allover not-quite-so-white bevel. :D
    The artist was pleased with it. In fact he came back shortly after with another one. Also very black. :confused:

    I've found that a pastel can shed quite a lot of particles with out looking too different. My usual strategy prior to
    matting is to give then a good shake over a white surface until no more bits come off. :p
     
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  24. neilframer

    neilframer PFG, Picture Framing God

    I have been Blessed, or possibly Cursed, with amazing eyesight, even at my age.
    I only wear glasses to see far when I drive, but I see very well even without them.
    I can spot a flaw from across the room, even if the client might not ever see it.

    Years ago we had a young woman working in the shop and I might walk by and see a speck under the glass.
    She called me "Eagle Eye". (I don't think that she meant it as a compliment:rolleyes:).

    At a previous job years ago my boss once told me to "keep one eye closed" when looking at the finished work.:oops:

    I see everything.:cool:
    Just on Friday, when I went to lunch, I noticed that my boss had parked his van close to a car lift that is in our back parking lot.
    I saw that if he backed straight up, he would rip off his right side view mirror.
    I told him this and he thanked me but he said that he was aware of it and always turned his steering wheel to turn away from the lift.
    My vision has also given me a perfect driving record with no accidents because I see everything on the road and I can avoid the other drivers who see nothing...;)
     
  25. Joe B

    Joe B SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I had perfect eye sight too - then I turned 40 years old :( my perfect eye sight left me at 1 second after the clock struck 12:00, now at 69....

    I don't doubt that you have great eyesight, still, with perfect eyesight no one can't see the invisible. Some of the new fixers today are so close to invisible it is crazy, no change to color, no damp look, no nothing. I to have perfect eyesight when I wear my glasses which I do from the second I wake up until I lay down for the night. I cannot see the fixers when I am wearing my glasses and I don't believe anyone else can if the fixer is properly applied. Maybe the fixers you are seeing are the old one or fixer that was over-applied.
     
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  26. neilframer

    neilframer PFG, Picture Framing God

    I'm not such an old dog that I can't still learn a few tricks...
    The fixatives that I've seen leave a film of tiny (and I mean VERY tiny) dots in the pastel.

    The pastel artists we work with actually request that no fixative is used and if they don't want it, we don't do it.
    If they want to do it, OK but we will never do it on our own.
    These are not just art students or hobbyist artists, they are recognized folks and we do what they want.

    We might need to revisit the fixative situation with the artists as well as what we do, but if the artist says NO, we won't do it.
    More to follow, stay tuned ...:D
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2018
    Joe B likes this.
  27. Joe B

    Joe B SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Agree - absolutely not - no time no way - if they want it fixed they do the fixing...and as you say "More to follow, stay tuned...":D
     
  28. Matt Chambers

    Matt Chambers Grumbler in Training

    Thanks all for the above conversation. Pastels are one of the greater causes of grey hair in my shop. I will add that I use an acid free foam insert behind the mat . 1/8 thick. It gives a little more depth to the gap, more room for dust to disappear.
     
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  29. artfolio

    artfolio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Just today I was in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam looking at some pastels which were older than any of our grandparents and wondering how those early artists got on without the benefit of toothy paper or handy spray on fixatives....?
     
  30. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I take it that these were done by 'Old Masters' and not amateur happy dabblers. :D Serious artists of that era would
    spend years learning the craft. How to make paints, prepare their grounds and wotnot. Also, a pastel will reach a stage
    in it's life where all the loose bits that are going to drop off have done so. :rolleyes:
     
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  31. shayla

    shayla WOW Framer

    I once reframed a pastel on paper from the 1800's that was in great shape. It had been tacked to a wooden strainer along all four sides tiiny nails and pressed right up to the glass. Perfectly flat. Wish I had a bit of whatever fairy dust that framer used.
     
  32. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Yes. I once had a big watercolor to reframe. Painted 1898. The paper was mounted to canvas and on strainers.
    The mat was the typical gold. Bevel a lovely brown. :confused: The original frame had been replaced. Window glass.
    The strainer bars were also a dark brown.
    Despite this it was in perfect condition. Looked like it had been done the day before. No foxing, acid burn or fading.
    After I ditched the mat and reframed it using Museum glass it looked spectacular.
    I have read up on the artist concerned and it seem he took great trouble with his materials. He let his paper 'mature'
    for a few months before using it. The paints must have been top quality. There is more to 'art' than just grabbing a
    bit of paper or whatever and diving in. :rolleyes: The old artists had a lot of tricks that have been forgotten.

    Having said that, there were plenty of cut-price cowboys around in any era. :p
     
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  33. Woodworks by John

    Woodworks by John CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I'm going to suggest to this artist that she mounts her pastel paper to some acid free foam insert as you suggested. This will be an interesting frame if (and that's a big IF) she follows through. If you can imagine a raised pastel mounted in a glass covered shadow box. I can work out the wood forming and assembly but the pastel had me concerned, plus she wants me to cut it. Ah yes, how boring life would be without a challenge!
     
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