Maryland Pastel Society Summer Meeting

This weekend's MPS meeting featured a framing demonstration which was followed by stations for experienced individuals to critique other members' paintings.

The framer was Julian A. Manelli, the owner of Mat About You Gallery and Custom Framing in Ellicott City, MD; he's an experienced conservator as well. I thought it was wonderful that instead of framing a piece, he deconstructed and unframed a piece that he'd put together for a MPS member a few weeks ago.

He also deconstructed some framing myths as well. I'd read that pastels should be sealed, because opening doors suck the air out of the room as well as the framed paintings. This entails making a sandwich of glass, matting (if applicable), spacers (if applicable), artwork, and foam core by putting tape around the edge of the unit. Manelli does not use this method, because he feels that inside the painting is an ecosystem that needs to equilibrate so that condensation does not occur.

This framer always puts linen or other tape around the inside of the frame's rabbet and any fillet, because they could convey acid or leaf flakes to the art. This is the back of the frame; apologies for not getting a shot of the gold leaf front. He also inserts spacers so that there is no movement of the glass.

On this piece, because of the fillet used to preserve as much of the edge of the painting as possible, he used a cut out in the foam core and his backing was merely watercolor paper. Here he peels away the watercolor paper to reveal the back of the painting, the fillet, and several layers of foam core.

He is lifting out the fillet and painting from the surrounding mat and foam core. Notice the acid free tape inside the fillet.

Here he is pulling away a bit of the watercolor paper to show the lip of the back side of the mat and the build up of foam core for the fillet to rest.

Although it would have been great to see a hinged piece framed, he felt that there are so many techniques and supplies available that it would have been difficult to pull off in that setting.

He mentioned a 60% UV glass he bought a large stock of as the company was going out of business. He only offers it to artists, so ask for it when you go. He gives great price breaks to artists; this complicated and beautiful frame job was only about $100. For size and price comparison, I'd guess the frame was about 18x24".

One last framing tip: do not use alcohol solutions to clean the glass. Use microfiber and lighter fluid. Yes, a small amount of lighter fluid.

Manelli also showed secure flat storage units that can be made at home. They're layers of foam core with a bottom, plus a removable top fastened in the corners by velcro.

The passion Manelli has for framing certainly shows in his work. He'd be worth a road trip!


ariel freeman said...

Glad you could make it to the meeting. I am sorry I missed it. It is just so hard to spend 4 hrs driving for a 4 hr meeting. Thanks for the notes!

Bonnie said...

Ariel, when you begin the Pastel Society of Virginia, I will happily drive to both!

Lynne Eve Grossman said...

Hi Bonnie,
This sounds like a fascinating demo. I couldn't make the MD meeting either.
Thank you for the informative post.
Bonnie, I'd pitch in for gas and meet you and/or Ariel to carpool.

Ariel, are you seriously going to start one in VA? People have asked me for years if I'd start one, but I've had other pressing obligations.

Bonnie said...

I said that to Ariel to stir the pot b/c she knows how much I want to start one. I have some VA people lined up, mostly through WetCanvas. I would like to contact IAPS, which might know of VA people, and I have lots of advice from others who have begun one.

Alas, time is an issue. Also, my preference would be to gather and start, not run, so there'd have to be someone who could take over.

I know some people in VA horse country who'd be interested, too, and I'm not sure how much a driving commitment I'd (or any of us) would want to make, so I've considered both Pastel Society of Virginia and Pastel Society of Northern Virginia. It'd be cool to have them overlap at start up and then work cooperatively later.

I'd also toyed with the idea of having it start more like a club-ish organization, that it couldn't bother with Signature Status or higher level shows. Start slow and build.

Starting is the thing, though!

I'd love your (or anyone else's) input!