Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Here is the back of a painting. I have used offset clips to hold the painting into the rabbet of the frame. They are available from many suppliers but I got these from Jerrys, that link will take you to the page in their site where you can get them. You will need several different sizes. They are not very expensive so stock up. In the olden days, sometimes artists would nail their paintings into the frames, by driving a nail through the stretcher at a 45 degree angle into the frame. That is a real nuisance if like me you are routinely trading paintings in and out of frames. It also looks brutal, like something you wouldn't do to a VALUABLE painting. If I use offset clips, I can loosen them up with a Phillips head screw driver and have the painting out in a minute or so, and it doesn't chew up my stretchers.

Never force a painting into a frame for which it is to big. One of two bad things will happen. The best of which is that you will force your stretchers inwards and your canvas will now have a pucker in it. The worst thing that can happen is that you will force the corner of your frame open, breaking the miter at the corner. That's a big price to pay for your impatience.

I have a permanent fitting table set up and I use it only for framing. It is covered with an old mattress pad, because I am putting frames on it face down. I have all of my tools and framing hardware right at hand.

Here I am putting a panel into a frame with my brad gun. This is a very handy tool and I use mine a lot. I can put a panel securely into a frame in about 30 seconds, and it will look professionally done. If you routinely paint on panels this tool is handy. I use a brad gun, but a point gun works too, here is where to get one of those. They are not cheap, so I expect that unless you are a pro or a tool collector you may not want to buy one.

Now this is important. You must put your paintings securely into the frame. I know that sounds obvious, but I have never hung a show that did not have one piece falling out of its frame. Don't think the art association or a dealer is going to stop and fix that for you, they are busy and will ignore it. Eventually your canvas will fall out of its frame as it is being shuffled around or stacked and it will be damaged. Or a customer will pick it up and it will fall out of the frame and you will lose the sale. Don't give people a reason not to buy your art!


Sara Winters said...

Thank you again! Now I am hoping you will address a question I have had for a while: do I cover the back with anything, or just leave it open? Or is that just one of those "go with the gallery's preference" things?

Jonathan said...

Great tips Stapleton. I used to work at a framing shop and those offsets are great. I never knew where to get them after I left the shop, thank you for recommending the site to pick them up. The offsets are great for securing your painting into the frame. Thanks again!!

Gregory Becker said...

All very good advice. Are you going to talk about frames?
How hard is it to make your own frames? Cost, materials etc...

Bob Carter said...

I use those offset clips from Jerry's, too, in every size they sell. They also sell a good, plastic coated picture hanging wire in large spools, as well as small D-ring hangers. Wish they sold the two-screw type for larger pieces.
P.S. I'm looking for the wayback machine to get to your age.

Philip Koch said...

Yes, the offset clips Stape mentions are lifesavers. They also look cool on the back of your painting, sending a subliminal message..."professional."

Get the feeling our intrepid writer is building up to discussing frames in the next post. I confess, I'm something of a nut case on that topic. On 19th century paintings I see in museums I'm completely comfortable housing them in frames from that era. And traditionally the old frames cover over the outermost 1/4" of a paintings surface. No problem.
But with my own work, and that of other contemporary painters, it always looks "wrong" to my eye to cover up even a centimeter of the surface. I wish I didn't feel this way as it causes all sorts of technical problems coming up with alternative solutions. My advice to everyone on frames is to learn everything you can, but then just go your own way with it. Just like making a painting, framing decisions are profoundly individual choices.

Unknown said...

For those coming to the Jaffrey workshop, our little mom and pop art supply/framing store here in town(housed in a historic old mill building with mahogany trim work on the inside!) sells both the offset clips and the one and two-hole D-ring hangers. Plus, you can buy that plastic coated wire by the foot if you want.
I'm sure it's more expensive than buying a whole box of clips from Jerry's but it is so darn convenient for me to walk down and chat with Roy or Nancy while they count out however many I want, that it is worth it for me.
Bob, I remember the way back machine. I guess that makes me old!

"phatio" : where you phut your photted phlants and deck phurniture.

Sandra Galda said...

I am enjoying your blog, wish I could attend your upcoming workshop. We are still recovering from our son's wedding a month ago... I am loving your biographical posts! Hopefully someday I will attend one of your workshops and benefit from your teachiing.

armandcabrera said...


Great post. I use offset clips too but I get them from United Manufacturers, a wholesale place, for about half the price of Jerry’s but you have to buy in bulk sets of 1000 instead of 100. They also have the two hole D rings for cheap.
I’m curious why you don’t use the offsets for panels? I just flip them over so they point inward instead of outward and they seem to work fine.

Judy P. said...

Greetings Stapleton,
I have recently discovered your blog through Deb Pero's site, and am soaking up your past critiques. Perhaps it is the Asian in me, but as I read your detailed comments I think to myself "Light dawns on me!" That line came from a child's short story about a cat owned by a Chinese laundryman; why it has stayed so long in me must be one of the mysterious effects of art. Sorry to babble on; I am probably more of a beginner than most of your following, so I will now remain silent, and try to learn.
Thank you!

willek said...

Hey, Armand. I never thought of that. Great idea!

Stapleton Kearns said...

I leave them open. There are some galleries that want cardboard over the back. If you go to an auction the old paintings do not have cardboard on there backs unless a restorer or dealer added it later and they seem to be fine. I guess if you have time it is a good thing to do.Make the front REALLY good and the back will be good enough.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you.Is your avatar a self portrait?

Stapleton Kearns said...

I guess I could a little. That could be a whole nother blog.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Bob: I will talk about wiring pictures tonight.

Stapleton Kearns said...

There are some really nice "float" frames out there. I llike the ones with the gold face. They don't look good on what I do though. I tries one time using pickled oak float frames and they didn't sell.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Looking forward to the workshop. I may go to that hardware store just to see a real one.The high school kids working in our local one can't count. They do have some nice tattoos though.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Welcome back and congratulations.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I use brads on panels because they are fast and the cost almost nothing. Offsets work too, as do glaziers points.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Hi Judy:
I see in your blog you visited Stillwater. I know that area. I used to paint around there with Mary Rose Pettis about 30 years ago.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Patent it!