How to Frame a Pastel Portrait

by | Soft Pastel Tips

A lot of people ask me how to frame a pastel painting so I have written this post to show you how I do it.  I use Acid free materials because my commissions are designed to last a life time.  You can choose to use different materials. 

So to start, here is a list of the materials you will need.  Fixative spray, I use Daler Rowney Perfix. String D-Rings and screws for hanging. Framing Tape, Hinge Tape and Double Sided Tape – all acid free / archival. A hand held drill bit and a screw driver. I got this posh looking one for Christmas (aghgh what can I say 🙂 ) it has a really cool scissor attachment, before that I used an ordinary screw driver. If your screws are a Phillips head (cross shape) you’ll also need a flat screw driver. Also, and missing from this photo you will need a spare strip of mount board. And finally the frame. I use a bespoke framing service because the frames are better quality. I have tried cheap frames and there are good ones but the bad ones have fallen off the wall!! This is not what I want and I always recommend a bespoke frame to my customers.

Fixing the Pastel

I choose to fix my pastel paintings if I’m using Velour paper because I can do it without darkening the colours.   I have tested the Daler Rowney Perfix brand and I know it works.  If you are spraying for the first time, please check it works on a test piece.  If I use Pastelmat, I don’t fix the painting.

Adding A Spacer

You’ll need to dismantle the frame and take out the mount.  Then cut a strip of mount board (acid free) to act as a space between the artwork and the mount.  This is where the natural falling of tiny pastel particles will go.   You can fix this with the double sided sellotape.

spacer at bottom of mount

Glass cleaning

Next you’ll need to take the glass out and clean it.  Don’t skip this stage.  You’ll regret it.  It’s hard to see if it is clean and it will save you a lot of hassle later if you have to take the painting out and clean it.  It’s a fag but it must be done.  But, you only need to clean the inside, the outside can be done at the end.

Hinge Tape

Use the hinge tape to attach the painting to the mount.  Press hard with a very clean dry palm.  You do not need to tape the painting all the way round.  You need to hinge it – hence the name of the tape.  This prevents buckling due to temperature changes.  You can see it hanging from the hinge tape in the third photo.

Press hard with a very clean dry palm.

Here you can see the painting hanging from the hinge tape.

Now you can insert the mounted painting in the frame carefully.  My pastel work is very stable and this technique works for me.  You can take the glass out and put it on top of the painting then put the frame on top of that.  Also you can mount your work next to the glass.  In the British climate this works fine, but not so well in very humid climates.

Next add the backing board and you are ready to use the framing tape and string it for hanging on the wall.  Don’t forget to sign it, before you put it in the frame!!


Framing Tape

Now you need to seal the back with the framing tape.  You’ll need a straight edge and a safety knife to cut the 45 degree corners.  Make sure you overlap the corners otherwise you will be left with a gap when you press the tape down inside the frame.  Pressing the tape down to get it smooth is tricky.  You need to start from the middle and smooth it down gentle with your nail.

String the frame for hanging

Next you need to mark holes about one third of the way down each side and make a hole with your drill bit.  This is the pilot hole for the screw.  Screw in the screw and make sure the d-rings are horizontal.  Then take your string two and a half times the width of the frame.  Enough to tie it in a double knot and secure the ends with framing tape.  The label is the finishing touch 🙂

Sue is a Soft Pastel Artist and International Tutor from England UK
She's passionate about soft pastel art and teaching her students from around the globe.

"Art makes my heart sing and my soul smile"