Here’s what my standard framing looks like.

Because pastels must be framed under glass (or plexiglass) and framing is SO expensive, I decided early on that I would learn to do my own framing and invest in framing equipment and tools.  I have found it to be extremely worthwhile, and I even make a little money on the side doing frame jobs for friends and others, although it’s not what I want to spend all my time doing.  If you are a pastelist, I would encourage you to consider doing this yourself.  I’ll be blogging about how to do it in the coming weeks.

It’s really easy to make your own frames. There are lots of colors/styles of moldings available, but I use a plain flat black frame for most of my paintings unless a client requests something else.  Makes it a lot simpler this way!

First, you must decide what width of frame you need.  Here are some handy guidelines:

  • 8″ x 10″ to 15″ x 19″:  Use a 1″ wide frame

  • 16″ x 20″ to 23″ x 25″:  Use a 1.5″ frame

  • 24″ x 36″ and larger:  Use a 2″ frame

Then you must determine what size your mat border should be.  Click HERE for a very useful Border Finder tool provided by Framing4Yourself.com.

I purchased my tools and equipment from Framing4Yourself.  They also offer classes around the country on how to do it.  I had already taught myself how to do it when I went to one of their classes, but I still found it VERY useful and helpful.  If you’re going to do the entire framing thing, I would highly recommend their class.

Here’s what I bought:

  • a miter saw made especially for cutting moldings.  If you can afford it, I would strongly suggest a power saw made for this purpose.  However, I have decided it’s much easier to order the moldings already cut to size (chopped), and not that much more expensive.  You can order lengths of molding from Framing4Yourself, but I order my chopped moldings from FramingSupplies.com.  They are very good to work with and I think their prices are very reasonable.

  • Various types of clamps to hold the frame together.  I have a band clamp for large frames and a frame clamp for smaller frames.

  • Some glue — I user Logan’s Corner Glue, but I think Elmer’s is the same thing.

  • A joiner and V-nails to nail them together.

That’s all you need to make the frames.

Once you have your moldings cut, take a marker the same color as the molding and mark around the raw edges of all four pieces so that if there happens to be a slight gap, the raw wood will not show.  Set up your moldings in the shape of the frame and place them inside your clamp.  Then apply a little glue to the ends and clamp them securely together, ensuring that the seams are even.  I like to let them dry overnight.

Next, use your Joiner to insert the V-nails into each joint.  I usually use 2 V-nails in each joint or one if it’s a 1″ frame.  Make sure they are the right depth so they won’t come through the front of the frame.  Framing4Yourself also has some good books on how to do this.

Next time, I’ll talk about cutting the mats and the tools you need for that.