Mounting Pastels

The requirements for matting and framing pastels are similar to those for other works on paper, but with two additional cautions. First, pastels can be very dusty, even if you use fixatives, so the picture must be well separated from the glass in the frame with a 6- or 8-ply rag mat. Second, you should avoid using Plexiglas, as it can accumulate a static charge that could draw pastel particles to its inner surface.

That said, cutting mats is a routine operation but one that would require much more space to explain than we have here. I suggest you consult one of the many books that describe the process in detail. My book, The Painter’s Handbook (Watson-Guptill), does a pretty good job, but also check the art technique section of your local bookstore or library.

Also consider the costs of getting set up to do this kind of job. It can involve a substantial capital investment in equipment and supplies—a good-quality mat cutter can cost several hundred dollars, for instance. And you’ll inevitably make mistakes as you’re learning, so the costs for matboards will add up. If you’re a professional artist who needs to prepare a lot of mats, it might be worth the investment. Otherwise, if quality mats are only an occasional need, I’d stick with a professional framer. In the long run, you’ll save time, money and aggravation.

Artist and instructor Butch Krieger is a contributing editor for The Artist’s Magazine. He lives in Port Angeles, Washington.

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