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Matting a painting on stretcher bars


MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Mar 24, 2002
Clearfield, PA
I am hoping some of our resident “guru’s” of The Grumble could help me out w/ this:

We have a customer that brought in a 16x20 acrylic painting that he had completed several weeks ago. It is on canvas stretched over bars. Our normal procedure is to put it into a 16x20 frame and secure the canvas to the frame w/ spring clips. However -

The moulding he selected only has a 3/8” rabbet (it HAS TO match his other frames). He also wants it double-matted with glass.

Because of the depth of the canvas ¾” – and the thickness of the mats & glass ¼” – I am trying to figure out how to hold everything together in the frame. I will most likely use a foam-core “sink-mat” around the stretched canvas to help keep the mats flat against the glass. Do I affix the painting in the sink-mat or does it just “float” in there? Also, how to secure the entire package into the frame? The best idea I could come up with was to use “Z” clips to hold the package into the moulding. It’s not going to look pretty, but that’s what I came up with – HELP!

Why the heck does he want to mat over a painting on canvas? Tell him that there is a possiblity that the mats will stick to the paint.

Unless.... is he matting to make the picture larger? The idea being to put a 16x20 into a 20x 24? If that is the case, tell him it is not stucturally sound, and show him liners. That is what they are for. Just plain refuse to do such a daft thing as mat to enlarge a stretched canvas.
You get 2" liners in just about any color you want from Raphael, and then you don't need glass.

I have put canvases into shallow frames by shooting long staples into the sides (the kind that stick out about 3/8 inch) and then stapling those "handles" to the back of the frame.
I have a painting at home that I framed in a fabric wrapped mat with fillet and a gold frame of appropriate depth. I did it this way because I wanted a substantial border around the image. There is no glass on this, but it has remained structually sound after about 10 years. The painting is held in place with a sinkmat made of stacked foamcore, glued to the reverse of the mat. 1/8" foamcore the size of the frame holds the painting and package in place. Looks great.

:cool: Rick

P.S. A neat looking version of Hanna's staple method is to use Fletcher's flexible Multi-Points into the edge of the canvas, and screw these into the back of the frame with small screws thru the Multi-Point's hole.
It is funny that you brought this up Mike. I just did one yesterday. Almost exactly like your suggesting. I also needed additional rabbet space so I used Rabbet Space from FrameTech. I didn't take the order in, one of my employees did but it worked out OK. The finished product is very heavy due to all the added foamboard to make a sink mat so deep.

It is what the customer really wanted and I always try to give them just that.
Hanna - I tried! - I tried! - I even begged!
Our normal procedure w/ canvas is to fit it in the frame using clips or “Z” clips.

Our customer had seen other canvases that had been matted and that was what he wanted. And, as you know not everyone will take your advice – no matter how much you plead!
However, it’s challenges like this that makes this business “fun”. :D

The procedure in my original post was the best I could think of – it wouldn’t be pretty, but I felt it would get the job done.

Jerry - I searched the archives and the web for “Rabbet Space from FrameTech” and wasn’t able to find anything – do you have a URL?

Well, you got some really good ideas on how to handle a project that I would probably have laughed at had a customer brought it to me.

(I guess there have been worse things done to a canvas.)

RabbetSpace is carried by UMS in their catalog.

Acrylic paint is a very complicated medium to
deal with. When the water leaves the paint, it
leaves holes in the paint surface, which can
become filled with grime, over time. As the paint
dries, surfactants that kept the polymer in suspension, come to the surface of the paint for
weeks, thereafter. Whether they should be washed
off or not, is not clearly understood, but it seems wise to protect the paint from grime with
glazing and to allow the polymer to air out for
some weeks, after the painting is complete.

Hugh - That is another reason the customer requested matting w/ glazing.

In the past he had "sprayed" his paintings with a fixative but found out that they would yellow over time. Hence, he came up with the matting & framing idea.

I would much rather use a nice wide linen liner w/ the glazing over-top that and then frame the entire package. I have also been in contact w/ Falcon East (by way of "Frank's Fabrics") for samples in case this comes up again.

Of course, the customer needed "yesterday" and can't wait for me to do it the "proper" way (if there is such a thing)

Mike; a long time ago Orton suggested a method of attching Rag mat Strips to the sides of the stretcher bars ,at ahight just higher than the tallest paint peak ,and then resting the Glazing on top of the matting strips , and then adding a nice frame over that.

Maybe if you check the Search feature you can find it. If memory serves me Hugh also concred that Museems also glaze Canvases in a similar method to protect them from air borne pollutants and even human fingers.LOL
I have always thought (been taught) that oil or acrylics on canvas were NOT to be glazed because they needed to “breath” :rolleyes: – but, like Buddy mentioned, it is not unusual for museums to glaze their paintings for protection. I know that this has been discussed on The Grumble and Hitchhikers – both pro & con. It would be nice if we could get a definitive answer. Anyone?

I have several customers that like their oils to be glazed because they smoke in the house. Glazing in the front and a tight dust cover in the back help to protect the art from nicotine.

I actually gained a couple customers because their previous framer flat refused to put glass on their paintings. Hopefully, all my competition continues this process. Maybe I should advertise that I am willing to do this for MY customers.
Mike if you remeber the thread or find it on "SEARCH" you will discover that my information came from Hugh"PRESERVATOR" Phibbs and Orton ,which should be Definative enough. But if not,be advised that in my RECERTIFICATION of CPF the instructor agreed and furthermore the accepted opinion is that even venting the Dust Cover is nothing more than a good home for BUGS (Insert your Local favorites)and also a good place for mold to grow.

Maybe if Hugh,Rebecca or any of our other Conservators care to, they can confirm my memory.
Especially since BUDDY is by no means an expert but I try to remember things like this when REAL experts say them.LOL
PS I did however start a thread way back when about commonly held Framing Myths of which Canvases needing to breath was one of the main myths.I think the Axiom is "Only things with Lungs need to Breath"
This subject has been covered in "Preservation
Practices" in Picture Framing Magazine, Nov.,
2004. As Buddy reminded us, breathing is what
insect pests, molds and mildews, need air to
do. Circulating modern air through cellulose will
result in pollution accumulating among the
fibers. Window mats have shown discoloration at
their upper and side edges, but with none along
the bottom edge, where contact with the wood of
the frame had been present. One can infer that
contact with wood causes less change than exposure
to household air. Keeping pollution out of paper
and canvas should be a critical function for a
preservation frame.