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Framing Image: Framed pastel painting titled Ciclone and his Shadow by Lesley Harrison

Framing pastel paintings on velour paper can be a bit of a challenge. But once you figure out how to do it, you’ll feel safe that your precious artwork is protected.

After trying different things in my first years of working with velour, my framer and I came up with a solution that I have used for over 30 years. Let me save you the heartbreak of ruined paintings by sharing it with you.

First of all, if you’ve read my book, you probably remember that all of my velour paper is dry mounted on a 100% rag board. This helps a lot since paper alone just seems to naturally want to curl up or ripple with changes of humidity – not a pretty thing!

So when it comes time to frame, this is how I do it:

The frames are built as if you were framing an oil painting. What I mean by that is they will have a liner (usually made from silk or linen) and a wood molding. This is instead of a frame with a double or triple mat, Ciclone and his Shadowwhich is the traditional way that most pastels are framed.

Velour is a wonderful paper and gives a stunning visual effect, but the pastel does not adhere to it in the same way as it does on other pastel grounds.

So, what we want to do is to give it as much stability and protection as possible. The way I do that is by placing the glass directly on the painting. Yes, that’s what I said, put that glass right on your painting! This is a different school of thought from any other pastel framing method that you will usually hear of and framers usually advise that there be a spacer to keep the finished painting from touching anything – especially the glass!

So, we have a frame that has been built with a liner and a piece of glass cut to fit inside the liner. Turn the frame upside down, clean your glass and place it in the frame from the back. I usually use a hair dryer to blow off any excess dust or cat hairs (a common problem around here) or anything else that you don’t want showing up on the front of your painting.

Here’s another little tricky part. Sometimes there will be cat hairs (no…not those cat hairs again! ) on the front of your painting. I have found the best way to remove them without doing damage is to take a piece of masking tape, roll it inside out, put it on your fingers and gently lift the offending hair off the painting.

I used to have a framer who loved to call me and tell me that he had found cat hair or whatever on the face of one of my paintings and that he had taken a vacuum and sucked it off - which, as you know, would have made the painting (or parts of it) disappear! He obviously enjoyed all the shrieking and screaming, didn’t value his life, or loved to tease me!

So, now your painting is lyng face down on top of the glass that is inside the frame that is also face down. Now I take a piece of foam core that has been cut to the same size as the opening, and with brads and a brad pusher, secure the foam core (and therefore your painting and the glass) into the frame.

Next, using double-sided tape, the backing paper goes on and I usually gently hand-screw the screw eyes into the back of the frame – no power tools, please! It would be sad after investing so much energy into a painting to ruin it now by being in a rush or using the wrong tools.

I hope this will help you. The other piece of advice I can give you is that, unless you really trust your framer, do it yourself! I will spare you those stories.

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