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COMMON AUDIT ISSUES FOR ARTISTS & GALLERIES

Published August 12, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

By the Practical Artist

Information for this blog was taken from REG 121584-05 page 523 http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=254019,00.html– 77.3KB

 

Probably the one agency that terrifies Americans the most is not the NSA, but the IRS and being audited by the IRS ranks up there with being on some mobster’s hit list. The best way to avoid being audited is to know what items will considered red flags by the IRS. The following are a few audit issues looked at by the IRS that may be found in the examination of an art gallery or home studio.

Unreported income through cashed checks from galleries to the artists leading to related returns to be examined;

Barter transactions between artists and others in the art field;

Taxability and inventory assessment issues for trades between gallery owners and artists;

Avoidance of state sales taxes;

Treatment of ordinary income as capital gains by mischaracterizing inventory as investments;

Identification of sources who failed to file/report transactions through “cost of goods sold” by studying cancelled checks and payment/transaction records;

Framing costs not properly recorded;

A History of losses or very high travel and entertainment costs with low gross receipts suggesting potential Activity Not Engaged in for Profit pursuant to I.R.C. § 183;

Sales of artwork disguised as “loans” secured by art as collateral and possible “money laundering”;

Other “financial status” indicators which show an artist’s or gallery owner’s reported income is incompatible to his or her lifestyle;

Potential issue on Non Resident Alien Artist, Art Galleries, Dealers and Brokers (International Referral Required);

Artwork being deducted as a charitable contribution at fair market value rather than adjusted cost basis and/or not being taken out of cost of sales;

Business use of the home.

If the gallery purchases its inventory, there should be a very detailed inventory listing showing the purchase date, the purchase price, any restoration and framing costs, the sales date, and price.

If the gallery sells on consignment, there will be a system in place to track consigned items. This system will generally contain the artist’s name, his or her address, a description of artwork, the date on which the artwork was received by the gallery, the asking price by the artist, and any other specific terms. It also indicates the date the piece was sold, the sales price, and terms of the sale.

The sales invoice for an art piece needs to  display the buyer’s name, address, date of sale, amount paid (if not fully paid), terms of any installment plan, sales tax, shipping charges, and framing charges if it is the type of artwork that would require framing.

Since artists are not offering a service, galleries are not required to complete a Form 1099 for the payments made. However, artists should receive a consignment check either monthly, at the time of sale, or at a time specified in an agreement between the artist and the gallery.

The best way to keep issues like those above from impacting your career as an artist is to keep good records for your home studio/gallery. If you sell your art, it is considered income and over a certain amount, it must be reported as such to the IRS on your federal taxes. If you participate in a booth event, you are usually required to have a seller’s permit, collect sales tax, and then report and pay that sales tax to the State.  Art is a business as well as a creative endeavor. Losing your art can be a financial loss. Not being aware of losing money because you don’t keep track of costs can create a huge problem.

Hey, relax; this isn’t as difficult as it sounds! Let’s take this one step at a time, using one piece of work. Step one: decide in what form you are going to keep your work log.While it is very helpful to have this information stored on a computer, artists were tracking their work using paper files long before computers became popular. I personally prefer using a computer worksheet, however, all of this stuff can be put on a sheet of paper and kept in a binder. For the initial record, I recommend a single sheet or worksheet per art piece. (Please see the Art Information Sheet in the Sample section)

ITEM 1—a pictorial image of your work. This can be in the form a printed photograph, a slide or a digital image. If your work is 3-deminsional, be sure to take photos of all sides of the work. Since this image is not going to be used to reproduce the work, a small, low-resolution image will suffice. The image should be large enough to see details of the work, clear and without blurring.

ITEM 2—the title of your work, size, style/genre and when it was finished.

ITEM 3—a brief description of the work (use complete sentences—why will become clear later). Optional—I also like to keep a kind of diary as to what I wanted to achieve, why I chose this image, and what was going on in my life when I created this art piece.

ITEM 4—Keywords to be used when downloading the photo of your art to your web site or other internet media.

ITEM 5—Show and exhibit record is a list of what shows or exhibits were entered, when they took place and if the art won awards.

ITEM 6—wholesale and Retail price. This is probably the hardest thing for an artist to decide on—how much to charge for an artwork! What is the difference between Wholesale and Retail? Wholesale is always lower than Retail. Your wholesale price at a minimum should cover the cost of what it cost you to create the art, plus any gallery commission fees and hopefully with a small profit margin. Retail price for an art piece should cover all this plus what you as an artist feel the art is worth. I realize this is very subjective but most of art issubjective.

ITEM 7—Incidental information such as the date you formally copyrighted the work, cost of the copyright, etc. More about copyrights later in the Copyright section.

ITEM 8—If you had limited editions of a painting or photograph or copies of a sculpture made, when, how many , how much it cost to make them, how many sold and how much you made when you did.

ITEM 9—the date you sold the original art and the name and address of the Buyer.

Learn More

Defining Your Artistic Genre

Published June 25, 2018 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

Abstract/Non-Objective

I was always a little confused as to how certain types of art are placed into certain genres at art shows. For one thing, it seemed to be purely subjective, depending on each artist’s concept of that particular Genre and some art didn’t seem to fit into any division at all! I did find a definition on the internet: “Genre is the general classification of your image.” One of the best examples of saying nothing while seeming to say everything I’ve ever found! Most artists I know seem to classify their art first by the media used to create it and then by the subject matter. For instance, many artists will describe their work as a “watercolor landscape” or an “oil still life”. From the internet, I also got a list of what was considered genre classifications. In many cases, the definition of a Genre was very narrow. Obviously, not all images fit into the Genre categories and I found myself taking issue with the clearness of the description of some them as well so I went looking for comparisons of the definitions and sure enough, everyone has a different opinion! Like many fields, the definition of a Genre seems to depend on which expert you consult. I also found about 30 different genres described, with many of them having sub-genres.

Abstract/Non-Objective Art seemed to be images not reflecting pictorial reality as opposed to Realism, which tries to show exactly what is seen. On About.com, I found this 1“In its purest form in Western art, an abstract art is one without a recognizable subject, one which doesn’t relate to anything external or try to “look like” something. Instead, the colour and form (and often the materials and support) are the subject of the abstract painting. It’s completely non-objective or non-representational.” I also found sub-genres in abstract art as well: geometric, figurative, etc. In other words, it did seem to me that anything they couldn’t find a Genre for at art shows got stuck here. Occasionally, I found this category confused with Contemporary art at art shows, which as I later discovered was not the same thing at all! 

A truly abstract work of art is derived from an actual object or things in the real world, something found in nature that the artist has ‘abstracted’.  Abstract art can include abstractions of real-life objects such as trees or it can be non-representational. A non objectivework of art has no ties to any real world objects or things and so it is not an abstraction of anything, it is aptly named, non objective.Non-objective art is a type of abstract or non-representational art. It tends to be geometric and does not represent specific objects, people, or other subjects found in the natural world.

ARE YOU READY TO SELL YOUR WORK OVER THE HOLIDAYS?

Published September 29, 2017 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

The holidays are fast approaching, and with them comes craft fairs, booth events, and other ways to show and sell your work I call events where you bring your work out and set up a mini art gallery “Booth Events” because usually you will be selling your own work. As a rule, there are 3 types of these events Outdoor, Indoor and Tabletop. Some of these Events will be geared to sell art only; some will allow different types of vendors and you may find yourself set up next door to a food vendor. Outdoor events are usually larger than the Indoor ones and attract a larger crowd.  A Tabletop can be either indoors or outdoors; the main difference between a Tabletop and the others is the space size. Most booth events allow you a 10’ x 10’ space. With a tabletop you have a space about the length and width of a table (usually 8’ long by 3’ wide) to display your work.

Your booth set up should be light and portable, easy for one person to set up in about 20 minutes, and fit into your vehicle along with the products you are planning to sell. To take part in booth events you should have the following items:

OUTDOOR EVENT

Pop-Up booth: Pop-Ups come in several price ranges and styles. Ideally, you will have help setting it up, but I would recommend the E-Z Up brand with the white top because it can be set up by one person. If you have never set up a booth, I advise a couple of practice trials setting it up in your yard before you go out to the event. The best Pop-Ups for displaying art have white tops and straight sides. The white top provides more light to see the art and the straight sides give you somewhere to fasten display racks. You can also purchase sidewalls to hang from the sides of the booth. You will need these if you are taking part in an event that lasts several days; you can use the sidewalls to enclose the booth when you go home for the night. FYI, unless the event has very good security, I wouldn’t recommend leaving your work out, but you can leave your display stands set up inside.

Display stands or racks: You can buy display set-ups from the art supply catalogs; but these can be pricey. However, it is possible to make your own. I bought 8’ wire closet shelving from the local hardware store. Turned on end, they can be fastened together with plastic tie straps or Velcro. The wire bars make ideal places to hang different sizes of art. (This portable shelving can also be made into stand-alone shapes: boxes, triangles and rectangles). For all events, I suggest that sandbags or weighted milk cartons be fastened to the corners to prevent tipping and as additional security for stand-alone shapes.

Portable easels can also be used as a part of your display. The art supply catalogs have some excellent display easels that hold multiple pieces of art and they look very professional. You can also make display easels yourself out of copper, PVC pipe or wood; just make sure they look professional. Remember you are going to be carrying them so they should be very light-weight!

Small fold up tables with a nice tablecloth to hold your cash box and give you a hard surface when making out receipts. They can also be used to display very small or 3-deminsional art, cards, etc. Just don’t make your space so crowded buyers won’t enter it. In addition, if your work is light, cardboard boxes covered by tablecloths or white sheets that reach the ground look very professional and provide a good backdrop to show off your work.

Sandbags or weights to hold down the booth in case of high winds: Weights of some kind are a must. A Pop-Up booth makes a big kite when the wind blows and it doesn’t have to be hurricane strength either. You need about 20 to 30 lbs. on each corner. Many booth events are on blacktop so you can’t use the handy stakes that come with the Pop-Ups to secure your booth against winds. Sandbags are available either from the Art Supply warehouse where you got your Pop-Up, or from the hardware store where you can also obtain clean, dry sand. You can also fill empty gallon milk cartons and use the handle to fasten to the legs of the booth.

Cash box: a locking cash box to keep change for cash sales and checks can be bought at the local office supply store.

Chair to sit in; while you will be spending a lot of time on your feet, it’s nice to have a place to sit down and relax so potential buyers don’t think you are just waiting to pounce.

Your work and any other items you plan to sell: Plastic boxes with good, snap-lock lids work really well to transport small items. They are waterproof and if you are doing a lot of events they hold up much better than cardboard. If you are going to be carrying your product in a pickup bed, make sure the lids of the boxes are fastened down and won’t blow open (bungee cords work well here). You will need either bubble wrap or some type of padding to wrap around or separate delicate items. For larger pieces of art such as framed paintings or photographs, I recommend that you carry them inside your vehicle (in which case they can be separated by large pieces of foam board or cardboard to prevent scratching the frames), or wrapped in bubble wrap. The thing you are most looking to prevent is damage caused by the items moving around when you stop, start and turn the vehicle. I also carry either a large, wide-tip marker in either brown or black to touch up frames.

A hand truck or dolly: You may have park some distance from your booth set up. While most places allow you to drive into the event area to set up your display, it might not be feasible for you to do so. A hand truck or dolly will enable you to haul your art, display stands and Pop-Up into the area without having to transport everything a piece at a time. This is a big plus because you may have a limited time in which to set up your booth.

A way to take debit or credit cards: If you want to make sales over $20, you will need either an I-Pad, I-Phone or some other brand of smart phone and the APP enabling either Square technology or PayPal. Both companies provide  a small square you can order off the internet free, attach it your smart phone  or tablet It’s small, portable and easy to learn to use. The company takes a small percentage of each sale as a fee (2.75% per swipe) and the money is in your account the next day. The site is https://squareup.com/  or https://paypal.com check it out. Although other companies are beginning to develop this tech these both have a proven track record.

Sales Receipts, a calculator and bags: A receipt book is a handy way for you to keep track of cash sales. Don’t spend a lot on the bags; you can get small paper bags and larger plastic ones with handles at the local Dollar Store. A small printing calculator because some customers who buy large ticket items are going to want a printed receipt, even if you are also e-mailing them one.

INDOOR EVENT

Requirements for an Indoor event will be slightly different. Some indoor events will allow you a 10 x 10 area, but you may find the spaces allotted aren’t exactly that size or aren’t square, so there will be difficulty fitting the Pop-Up frame into the space. In addition, the top cover will keep the overhead lighting from coming through, and the ceiling in the room may not be high enough to accommodate your booth. Even if the cover is white, poor lighting will make your booth dark and unattractive. if the canvas or vinyl cover is removable and the ceiling is tall enough, you might still be able to use only the Pop-Ups frame.

Stand-alone display racks are best for an indoor event. I use the same 8’ wire closet shelving from the local hardware store I used for the outdoor event, except that I fasten them together in a shape instead of to the booth. An indoor event is more likely to be crowded than an outdoor one, so to prevent accidents if your display is bumped, I suggest that sandbags or weighted milk cartons be fastened inside the shape to prevent tipping if someone does bump into the display. However, you can purchase this type of display from Art Supply catalogs and warehouses.

If you use portable easels to display your work, they can serve the same function indoors as they did outdoors.

You will also be able to use the small tables with a nice tablecloth used in your outdoor display

TABLETOPS

If you do a lot of Church or School sponsored Boutiques, a Tabletop Event is the most common type. At a Tabletop, you are probably going to be given just enough space to set up one 8’x2.5’ table with room for a chair behind it, so be prepared to cut your display down and bring only what you consider the most “sellable” items.

When I go to an event, especially an Indoor event, I always ask for access to electricity. Since space is usually at a premium it is difficult to display a lot of large art so I seldom take many large pieces of art to these events anymore, instead I take a plug-in digital picture frame (you can do the same with either a laptop or a tablet) loaded with photos of my work. I have a power point presentation showing my work set to music. The moving slide show and music attract a lot of attention and I can display more art.

Remember to have fun and talk about your work.

Good Luck

Gail

Is Your Work Ready For A Gallery?

Published February 23, 2017 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

A great many artistically talented people are discouraged from pursuing an art career because agents and gallery owners won’t consider their work. In many cases, this lack of interest on the part of galleries is not because the art is bad, but to the work being poorly prepared for showing on a professional level. Most Art Associations attempt to help teach beginning artists how to frame their art for art shows and presentation to galleries. This helps beginners learn how to prepare their work to be shown at a professional level.  Most groups have learned the easist, fastest way to teach this is by setting framing standards for their own shows.

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 paintings, 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.

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 reverse side. 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

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.

Why are they so fussy? The principal reason is no one wants to be responsible for damage to your art. Typically sawtooth and quick frames are put in with tiny finish nails and are too fragile to hold a heavy painting for very long. Screw eyes extend backward and could potentially poke a hole in the standard or the wall where the art is hung if an accident causes the art to be bumped. If you follow the rules given below your art will probably not be knocked out of consideration because of the framing.

General Guidelines

All paintings should be framed; gallery wrap (1.5” to 2” wide on the edge) is acceptable. Frames should be in good repair and ready to hang. The art show director may set size and weight standards, so read the show prospectus carefully!

Use flat hangers with wires only, no Saw-tooth, eyelet hangers or quick frames and no screw eyes. The ends of the wire should be taped or sleeved.

Screws for hanging should be no more than 4” inches from the top of the frame and the wire should not show over the top of the frame.

All oils should be completely dry. Watercolor, Pastel, Drawing and some types of mixed media should be under glass or plexi-glass, unless larger than 24” x 28” and then plexi-glass is may be required.D

ELEPHANT DUNG

Published January 7, 2017 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

Mother and Baby Elephant

Let’s talk about the pile of elephant dung in the middle of the room; namely, that  adults in Fresno and Clovis consider a print from Target or Wal-Mart to be on the same level as an original painting from a local artist. Why is this? Well, I believe it is because they don’t think of paintings as a cultural medium, but as mere decorator objects. I think this belief was created because they were not taught to appreciate art as children, either from parents (who probably weren’t taught it either) or exposed to the idea of art and music as cultural mediums enriching society in the local schools. Why don’t we teach the appreciation of arts and music to our young people here in Fresno and Clovis? The dirty little secret is Money.

Despite numerous studies showing that students who are consistently exposed to and taught to appreciate art and music do better scholastically in Math and Science, Art and Music  subjects always get the short straw when it comes to allocating school funds. Art and Music are “soft” subjects and consequently hard to measure on tests. We do need both math and science in order to compete in a technological world; however, it is well established that in spite of spending more money per student than any other state, California students continue to fall behind not only national, but world, averages and I believe that is due to poor emphasis on the subjects of art and music. Now, of course if asked, Fresno county Schools administration will agree, “There ought to be an art or a music class taught”. Nevertheless, this isn’t really happening and the classes that are taught don’t really address the problem. A single class that lets students play around with band instruments won’t teach our children to appreciate different types of music and its contributions to our culture. Neither will a class allowing students to draw pictures, although both of the options are a good start in the right direction. Art and Music must be integrated into all our subjects in order for our children to learn how valuable they really are. For instance, you can’t study Greek and Roman historical contributions without being exposed to their art and music as well. American history should include more than a paragraph mentioning Francis Scott Key’s National Anthem! A study of the American Revolution should include the contributions made by American artists in getting the message out to colonists. Many musical notes are based on mathematical formulas, but is this taught in math? Architectural structures, roads and bridges are part art, part geometry is this taught in geometry? I could go on and on, but I hope you get the point.

I believe that until our schools are committed to giving our young people a well-rounded appreciation of art and music as well as math, science and sports, our graduating students are going to continue to fall further and further behind the national standard. Creativity teaches independent thinking and without independent thinkers, we have no future leaders, only little robots who can recite by rote the party line without once understanding or considering the consequences. What do you think?

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.

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).

 

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