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Q. How do I mail pastel works on paper when a gallery prefers them unframed? I can’t imagine rolling or stacking the pastels without smudging them.
Donna M. Blackburn
Edgartown, MA

A. Shipping unframed pastels safely is an age-old problem. If you can decide on a mat color, you can mat a painting, apply a backing board and ship it without a frame or glass. You can even mat it with a temporary, inexpensive mat and a backing board, which the dealer can later replace. As long as the painting will be reframed with acid-free materials, the short-term mat and board can be of a cheap grade; there’s no need for expensive materials if they’ll soon be discarded.

To send several unframed pastel paintings together, you can mat each one, stack them and put a matboard over the top one. They can then be wrapped in brown paper and put into a secure container for shipping. Be aware, however, that if your pastels are unfixed, the odds are high that some of the pastel will be lost during the vibration of handling and shipping.

Jane M. Mason is president of the St. Louis Watercolor Society and former president of the Greater St. Louis Art Association. She teaches locally and exhibits in galleries across the country. More of her work can be seen on her Web site: www.watchingpaintdry.com.

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