Processing the “F” Words

This one actually made it into a frame

FRAMING.  Sorry if you thought this was about something else.

I hate to frame.  But custom framing is expensive, and my art career has not yet reached the point where I can afford to pay someone to do the nasty.

Show season is soon approaching, my paint brushes have been singing and it’s time to slap some of my creations into “The Frame”.  Oh that slapping were the process.  Watercolor framing involves cutting mats and cleaning glass.  Or put simply, utilizing the left (logical, mathmatical, analytical) side of my brain.   That process involves frustration, another “F” word.

Starting with affirmations and deep breathing:   I am going to have a good framing session.  I worked at a frame shop, I know how to frame. I can do math.  I am centered and competent.  I can do this.

It all goes to hell in a handbasket starting with the mat cutter.  Big and bulky, I keep it hidden in the closet in my studio.  It’s the only place it fits and I can’t stand looking at it.   I think it has bad karma.  The best spot in the house for the process of cutting mats is the kitchen breakfast bar.  Coincidently, that’s also the best spot for a lot of things:  junk mail, the binoculars, the coffee cup, notes, magazines, newpapers, an occasional stale potato chip.

Once it’s cleaned off  and the mat cutter assembled, we are faced with which frame to use.   And, I like the look of a double mat.  Using a white outer mat with a liner to complement the painting.   This process involves math (might as well be quantum physics) as it includes fractions.  Another “F” word.

Fast forward in the process a couple hours.  The mats are cut,  the paintings are mounted and we’re cleaning glass, trying not to get Windex on the paintings or mat board.  Streaks, chibbities, dust bunnies, overcuts….. was that mark on the mat when I cut it? While gently blowing off that speck of something, I manage to spit on the glass. Putting the frame down over the glass, mat and painting set-up invariably dislodges something, or  I smudged the glass with my fingers again.  When it finally looks good enough to secure into the frame, I hold my breath as I use the pointing gun to secure it.  And the Ta Dah ……..when I turn it over…..where’d that cat hair come from!!!!!!  God almighty, what I’d do to the idiot who dictated the archival way to frame watercolor is under glass with a mat.

Next in the process we attempt the dust cover.  This is done with double sided tape that sticks to itself and everything else in its way (especially the aforementioned mats, paintings and clean glass.).  The rolled up brown craft paper curls and wiggles as I try to lay it flat on top of that tape that I have managed to attach to the back of the frame.  It wrinkles.  Eye hooks won’t go in, wire gets under your nails as you try to secure it with that neat pretzel knot they taught me at the frame shop.  Somehow it’s wired upside down when finished.  I once sliced my hand on a point that hadn’t gone in properly while smoothing the dust cover.  Bad enough it hurt, but I bled all over the dust cover and had to redo it.

There is a new product out for watercolorists. As I understand it,  basically a textured clay that is secured to an archival panel.  You paint on it,  seal it and “slap” it into a frame.  It’s a bit pricey and on my list to purchase after my next commission.  As my oil painting class did not go quite as planned (see my blog entitled “Menu Choices”) its looking like watercolor will stay my medium.

So for now  I’ll still be using “F” words –  just part of the process.


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