Archives

All posts for the month December, 2016

FRAMING ON A BUDGET—PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Published December 31, 2016 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

framing-standards-grouphttp://www.thepracticalartist.com/the-practical-artists-blog.php

 Framing fine art can enhance the overall appeal of a piece of artwork. The drawback is if you don’t frame your art wisely it can ultimately ruin the paintings appeal altogether. Choosing the right frame for the right art looks simple, right? Step one is choosing the right type of frame. Wood or Metal? Wide or Narrow? The most important rule is to make sure the frame you choose doesn’t clash or overpower your art. A too-small frame around a large painting or a large frame around  a small artwork can overpower it and ruin the presentation. So first consider what type of art you will be framing and decide what type of frame will make the best presentation of your art. When choosing a frame it may be helpful to take the art with you and put it behind the frame choices. Ask yourself, what is the first thing you notice about the painting? Is it the art or the frame? If it is the frame, then you should consider selecting a different frame. If it isn’t practical to bring the art with you because of the size, you are going to have to use some imagination. Personally, I have found that the simpler the frame, the more attention is drawn to the art. There is a wide variety of ways out there to frame photos and other art. It may be a good idea to assess putting your art into a frame with as much consideration as you took with the actual painting. After all, your painting and its frame are going to be spending a long time together, so it is important to make sure they are a good match.

Types Of Frames: Frames loosely fall into three categories: traditional (often wood frames with some embellishment such as ornate carving, Oriental accents, appliqué curlicues, or canvas or linen inserts), modern (metal or ultra-plain wood, perhaps only a sliver of it showing as you face the picture) and transitional (minimal ornamentation with a moderate amount of frame showing on its face). Frames designed for canvas (oils or acrylics) usually have a linen mat and then a small wooden piece rounding off the inside frame, although some more modern frames have dispensed with this feature. Metal frames with glass or plexi-glass and a thick paper mat are generally used with watercolors or pastels. A word of warning here: most pastel artists prefer not to use plexi-glass because static electricity is picked up from it and the pastel chalk may be attracted away from the paper and onto the plexi-glass. Don’t underestimate a good frame; I have assisted at many art shows and I can’t remember how many times I overheard a judge say “The art is good, but that frame just (ruins, overpowers, clashes, etc.) it. Framing and matting should enhance and compliment your art. Have you seen the effect an ornate baroque frame on an abstract painting? Or maybe a steel frame on a lovely still life or floral caught your eye? Not Pretty was it.

Matting: The correct mat can enhance the appearance of a frame, hence your art. While some modern frames or Plein Aire frames come without mats, traditionally most art frames include some type of mat. A simple rule for choosing a mat is, do you like the look of it around your art. Usually, you want to select a lighter tone or neutral color than the dominant color in your art. You can look for a paler version of a color that is within the painting itself. If the mat color is too dark or too busy with designs, it will overshadow the image and detract from the art. Check the proportions of the mat to your art. If your framed art looks off, then your mat maybe either too big or too small. Black mats can be powerful, but be careful. They are so dark they will overpower most art.

The back can be as important as the front in an art show. I once saw a judge reject a lovely piece of art because she didn’t like the way the frame appeared on the back! Very seldom is art left naked on the back. While the backs of Oils are sometimes not covered in order to allow the canvas to breathe (oils take a long time to dry), most framed paintings have a backing. The most commonly used material is acid free brown paper but more decorative types can be used.

Gallery Wrap Framing. Gallery wrap does not have a conventional frame; in fact the edges of the art are painted and left bare to the eye, sometimes giving a wraparound effect to the art. A gallery wrap canvas is stapled on the back of the stretcher bars so the staples can’t be seen. Historically gallery wrap has had a wider edge than regular canvas (1-1/2” to 2” wide). Some confusion has arisen recently because art stores have begun selling canvas that is ¾’ wide and calling it gallery wrap since it is stapled on the back and not on the sides. FYI here, most commercial stores no longer sell any canvases stapled on the side. Be warned about this type of “gallery wrap”: many art shows and galleries do not consider this “true” gallery wrap and will not accept them into a show or gallery unframed. Another type of Gallery Wrap is not canvas but clayboard, ampersand board or gesso board. These also come in the 1-1/2” to 2” wide varieties called “deep cradle”, and can be painted around the edges and so considered gallery wrap. Typically this type of Gallery Wrap can also less expensive than some canvas sizes and so preferred by artists on a limited budget.

Gallery wrap is a preferred arrangement with certain types of art where frames would detract from the presentation, such as triptychs (three paintings presented as one) or multiple pieces of art that must be presented as a unit.

Showing Professionally. If you are planning to enter your work in art shows you can run into pitfalls with poor framing or the system used to hang your work. Hardware and art stores sell a wide variety of systems to hang art and while they will all work in a home setting, some of them are not suited to venues where there is a lot of public traffic. Most art shows have very specific framing dos and don’ts about how art is to be hung and they will only accept art that meets these standards. The following is typical:  Flat hangers only, no Saw-tooth, eyelet hangers or quick frames and no screw eyes. The ends of the wire must be taped or sleeved.  Screws for hanging must be no more than 4” inches from the top of the frame and the wire must not show over the top of the frame. Some shows and Galleries will accept the wide edge Gallery Wrap, some will not.

Art for The Home or Décor Market: Keep in mind also that framing art to go in the home or office as a decorator accent is not the same as show presentation. In show presentation, if the judge notices the mat before the art you may be in trouble. In the decorator market, you want a frame and mat to go with the style and colors chosen by the decorator for the room. Often, the decorator will pick the mat and frame to go with or compliment the colors in the room, not necessarily the painting.

Advertisements

REPAIRING A PLASTER FRAME

Published December 24, 2016 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

repair-plaster-of-paris-framehttp://www.thepracticalartist.com/the-practical-artists-blog.php

As I stated earlier, I don’t recommend re-fitting ornate Plaster Of Paris frames. However, if it means the difference between repairing an existing frame you already own and purchasing a new one there is a way to fix chipped or broken edges. First, I want you to notice that on most plaster frames such as the one shown in the photo, there is a repeating pattern on the corners and sides. To do this repair, you will need to make a clay mold of the unbroken matching side of the frame, fill it with plaster and use the new piece to repair the broken side.

What kind of clay should you use to make your mold?

The easiest clay to work with is made by Crayola and it air dries. Soft and pliable, Crayola Air-Dry (brand name) modeling clay allows the formation stable arts and crafts without the need for an oven or kiln. Smoother, finer, and less sticky than traditional clay, Air-Dry Clay softens easily with water and is a quick clean up. It’s ideal for traditional methods. It works just fine for this type of quick project and doesn’t require much more than your kitchen table and sink as a workspace. Most art supply houses carry it, or you can order it from http://www.dickblick.com/products/crayola-air-dry-clay/.

Working with Plaster of Paris

Plaster of Paris is a great material to use for basic sculptures and craft projects because it is easy to prepare and sets in a few minutes. Mixing Plaster of Paris is easy. The powder is very light and fine. to avoid getting the powder to the eyes and nose, wear a dust mask. Never mix Plaster of Paris with your bare hands.

Cover your work area with a plastic mat or with newspapers. Find a mixing container (preferably a disposable one) that will hold the size of the concoction you intend to make up.
The ideal ratio for the mixture is 2 parts Plaster of Paris to 1 part water.

Mixing Steps

Start with the water. Measure out the Plaster of Paris in another container. Break up any lumps of powder with a spoon.

Start adding the Plaster of Paris powder to the water in your mixing container by sprinkling or sifting the powder over the water. Do not add the powder in one clump; instead try to sprinkle the powder over as much area as you can.

Do not mix yet. Instead, tap the side of your mixing container with a spoon to disperse the powder into the water and remove any air bubbles.

Continue adding the Plaster of Paris, patting the sides of the container as you add the powder. Your cue to stop is when you notice that the powder has almost covering the surface and is no longer being as easily absorbed. Gently blend the Plaster of Paris mixture until it reaches a smooth consistency. Do not stir strongly or you may create air bubbles.

*If colored Plaster of Paris mixture is desired, add some poster paint once the mixture is free of lumps and has a smooth consistency. Continue mixing from side to side until the color is uniformly dispersed.

Allow the mixture to stand for a minute before pouring it into your mold. Don’t attempt to wash your left over residue down the drain! It will clog your pipes! Left over mixture should be allowed to harden and then thrown into the garbage can.

Using the Mold

Step 1: find the broken pattern on the side of the frame or corner. Using plaster carving tools try to make the broken edge as flat as possible.

Step 2: make a clay mold of the opposite unbroken side. You can find the instructions for making a simple clay mold on this site: http://www.instructables.com/id/Simple-Clay-Mold/

Soften the clay and then push it onto the unbroken side of the frame. You should use a large enough piece of clay so that when you turn the mold over, it will fit squarely on a flat surface. If the clay has dried before you pour the plaster, it might be wise to take the precaution of spraying the inside of the mold with cooking spray. If you do this, take a small brush or Q-tip and smooth out any bubbles in the oil before pouring the plaster. Allow the plaster to set.

Step 3: Fill it with Plaster of Paris and let it set hard, peel off the mold and glue the replacement piece to the broken place. Since it is on the opposite side, you will probably need to reverse it in order for it to fit properly.

It will also be necessary to fit the new piece to the broken space by doing some scraping with plaster knives and probably some sanding once it is glued down to make the new piece fit smoothly with the frame. I then recommend re-painting or if you are using gold leaf covering the entire frame for better color matching.

REFURBISHING A USED FRAME

Published December 17, 2016 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

framing-part-3

By the Practical Artist

http://www.thepracticalartist.com/the-practical-artists-blog.php

 

Refinishing Frames The first thing you are going to need is an outdoor workspace. Refinishing frames is messy, and the materials used need good ventilation. You may also want to invest in a folding table that can be put up when not in use.

MATERIALS NEEDED

To repair a wooden frame you will need, shop rags, a box knife, painters tape, small can of wood putty, a hammer, screwdriver, small woodscrews, finish nails, glue, wood stripper, paint or stain (probably both), sandpaper (both fine and coarse), a putty knife or plastic scraper, and sponges and brushes for applying the stripper, stain or paint and clear wood varnish. Gloves to protect your hands from the paint stripper and a mask for the fumes are also going to be needed. You may not use all of these; it depends on the type of repairs you are planning to do to the frame.

To repair a metal frame, you will need ), shop rags, sandpaper (both fine and coarse), metal primer, a mask to protect yourself from paint fumes, protective goggles, several cans of spray metal paint (matte finish) and can of clear metal varnish. Gloves to protect your hands from the paint are also going to be needed.

REPAIR & REFURBISHING

Metal Frame: begin by taking the glass or plexi out of the frame and setting it aside in a safe place. You will be re-using it so make sure you put it somewhere it won’t be damaged while you are working. Remove any backing or hanging system attached and examine the frame carefully. Sand out any rust spots using the coarse sandpaper and follow up by smoothing with the fine sandpaper. Depending on the deepness of the scratches you may elect to use either grade of sandpaper to smooth out any scratches. Wipe the frame to remove any excess dust left over from sanding. Lay the frame out flat and spray with primer using a side-to-side motion allow to dry and repeat until completely covered. Do NOT rush this process. Applying too many coats of paint too fast will cause it to run! Allow the primer to dry overnight and repeat process with the metal paint using the same technique on the 2nd day. The next day you may apply the clear varnish. On the fourth day you can replace the glass or plexi into frame and Wallah! You have a ready to use frame!

Wood Frame: begin by removing any canvas, hanging hardware and leftover backing paper from the frame. Do any repair work requiring nails or screws and then cover the linen mat with the painters tape, cutting off any excess tape in the corners with the box knife. Remove any sharp edges on the front of the frame by sanding them smooth. If you plan to re-stain the frame, follow the directions on the wood stripper for removing the varnish. This will cause the wood to swell a little bit. Let it dry overnight and then touch up with the sandpaper. Wipe the frame clean of any sanded residue, fill any cracks or holes with wood putty you have prepped by adding the stain to match the color (if you are going to paint over it, it isn’t necessary to prep the wood putty with color). Wipe off any excess stain and allow it to dry overnight (staining may also cause the wood to swell). The next day smooth over any raised edges left over from the stain before applying the coat of clear varnish.  Allow the varnish to set overnight. If you have painted the frame you can skip this step, although the extra varnish coat will provide some protection, it will also tend to show scratches later. You are now ready to repair the mat.

The Linen Mat: remove the painters tape from the mat and apply new strips of tape to the newly varnished or painted frame. If there is a dark stain, you may want to apply a small mixture of household bleach to the stain before repainting it. Once the stain is gone, rinse off the bleach with a soft sponge and allow the linen to dry. If the mat is torn use a small amount of glue and press it down firmly, making sure there  are no lumps of glue left.

To paint the linen mat I find that Acrylic paints work best. After selecting your color (I prefer either Unbleached Titanium or Parchment) Thin and extend acrylic paint with a textile medium or water. Many artists prefer to a water-soluble medium to produce a smoother finish to the final product. You want the paint to be thin but not runny. Using a small brush, lightly apply several coats of this mixture to the linen mat, allowing to dry between coats. Once you are satisfied with the color remove the painters tape from the wood part of the frame and you are ready to frame your art.

 

HOW TO CHOOSE A GOOD USED FRAME

Published December 10, 2016 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

framing-part-2

By the Practical Artist

http://www.thepracticalartist.com/the-practical-artists-blog.php

Another way to frame inexpensively is by restoring used frames. Where can you find used frames? A good source for used frames is flea markets, second hand stores and yard sales.

Choosing A Good Used Frame is not as difficult as you may think. Take your tape measure with you because frames and framed art found here may or may not meet the usual size requirements of the standard canvas sizes sold in the art store. The frame probably won’t be in pristine condition eiher so you may have to do some refinishing. I recommend wood or metal frames because they are easiest to clean up and refurbish. Because of the difficulty of repairing the faux carvings, I prefer to stay away from the more ornate frames with raised plaster designs.

Metal Frames: A good used metal frame may have scratches, but it will be square (no warping) without bent edges. Depending on the size of the art you are planning to frame, it should probably be at least ¾” to 1” wide. Make sure the corners fit together well without any danger of coming apart. A little rust or scratches are okay as they can be sanded off and smoothed out. Check the sizing with your tape measure to be sure your art will fit. Metal frames are typically used to frame watercolors or pastels, which are done on paper, and while the art paper may be cut to fit the frame, pastels and watercolors are also usually presented with a mat. Unless you have a mat-cutter, you will be using pre-cut mats, which come in the same standard sizes as canvas so making sure the frame is a standard size will cut down on the amount of work you will need to do when you frame the art. The used mat may also be reusable depending on its condition but if it free from stains this is an easy fix. Scratches on the glass or plexi means it will have to be replaced, although if the glass is scratched very near the edge of the frame it might not be noticed.

Wood Frames: A used wooden frame may or may not come with a canvas painting or print. The good news here is that after you have checked to make sure you won’t be covering up a lost masterpiece, you will also have a blank canvas or board that you can use to paint your masterpiece! (Look for a separate blog on re-using canvas).

Non-fixable issues: Check the frame for warping. Warping can be caused by water damage or just simply damage done to the frame itself. While warping can be corrected it requires wood shop tools like vises and such. Probably not worth your trouble.

Chipped Corners or edges:  Unless you are going to go for a distressed or really rustic look this can’t be fixed. It can be minimized with paint but it will still show up to the eyes.

Fixable Issues: check for loose corners. This is an easy fix, usually requiring some wood putty and finish nails. Scratches and stains are also fixable requiring stripping, re-sanding and either re-staining or painting of the wood part of the frame.

Linen Mat Issues On A Wood Frame: The most common flaw in a used wooden frame is the linen mat is stained or discolored. This is a pretty easy fix; just repaint it with off-white or parchment color. A tear in the mat may or may not be fixable, depending on the size of the damage. Usually a little glue and repainting the mat will suffice.

*For How-To procedures on refinishing old frames, please see the blog Refurbishing A Used Frame (part 3 of this series).

 

FRAMING ON A BUDGET

Published December 3, 2016 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

framing-pt-1

By the Practical Artist

http://www.thepracticalartist.com/the-practical-artists-blog.php

Framing fine art can enhance the overall appeal of a piece of artwork; unfortunately, if you don’t frame your art wisely a poor framing job can ultimately ruin the appeal of the painting or photograph altogether.   We all want our art to look its best, so artists inexperienced in the art of framing usually begin by using a commercial framer. A commercial framer will give you a nice, professional looking frame for your art. They will also give you sticker shock when quoting the price. Depending on the size of the frame wanted, a commercial framer can charge anywhere from $200 to $600 for a simple frame for a painting. Keep in mind that the cost can go much higher if you want an elaborate, ornate frame for your art. Contrary to popular supposition, using a metal frame is not cheaper (metal frames are favored by watercolorists and pastel artists). A commercial framer must not only charge you for the materials, but also for the labor it takes to actually frame the art.

The simplest way to avoid this type of sticker shock is to do your own framing. This isn’t really that hard; the first step is finding an inexpensive frame that looks good. The local art store will have a variety of frames to select from in standard sizes so watch the sales flyers for Coupons from your local art store and use them. Depending on the size of the art you are framing, you may be able to find suitable frames from other sources also.  Dollar and discount stores such as Walmart and Target typically have photo frames available in sizes that can be adapted to art. Words of warning here however; make sure that the frames you purchase from this source are made of wood and not plastic or acrylic. Plastic or acrylic frames can’t easily be adapted to the hanging methods required by most art shows. The saw-tooth or eyelet hangers that come with the frames probably won’t be accepted at a professional art show or gallery. Another difficulty is sizing. Take your tape measure with you; some of the frames sold at these places are not the standard sizes used by artists. Frames that look to be 11 x 14 can turn out to be 10 x 13 or some other odd size that won’t fit canvas or canvas boards sold to painters.

Another good source for finding inexpensive frames is On-line catalogs or internet stores. Typically these sites will charge less than your local art store because you are circumventing the middleman’s markup. This is my favorite source when purchasing new frames because the cost is usually 30 to 50% less than that of my local retail store. Of course the shipping does add an extra fee which cuts down on the savings somewhat. I buy frames from these places in bulk once or twice a year because there is an additional discount if you buy at least 3 or 4 frames at the same time. Think ahead and sign up for the stores e-mail program so you will be notified when they are having a sale. If you can’t afford the initial cost of buying in bulk up front, you might consider buying in bulk and sharing the cost with other artists. Some good sources of Catalogs are to name only a few:

ASW (Art Supply Warehouse) http://www.aswexpress.com/,

The Frame Place http://www.frameplace.com/xwoodfrm.htm,

Frame USA http://www.frameusa.com/wood-frames

Another way to frame inexpensively is to find used frames and refurbish them. Where can you find used frames? Well the two main sources I have found for used frames are second hand stores and yard sales. Again, take your tape measure with you because framed art found here may or may not meet the size requirements of standard canvas sizes sold in the art store. The frame probably won’t be in pristine condition so you may have to do some refurbishing and refinishing. Look for wooden or metal frames because they are easiest to clean up and refurbish. This subject is covered in more detail in Part two How To Find A Good Used Frame, Part three of this series on inexpensive framing covers ways to refurbish a used frame, and Part four explains how to refinish one of those ornate frames.

%d bloggers like this: