To frame or not to frame?
Historically, an unframed painting was considered incomplete. Frames were used to enhance the work, separate it from the wall, and add additional support by preventing the stretchers and canvases from warping. We’ve all seen those HUGE ornate gilded frames in museums.
Traditionally photography is framed in simple black, natural, or white frames so that the frame doesn’t overbear the image. The images are usually matted and placed under glass.
In modern times, this notion of a work being incomplete has faded and as artists, we have an entire array of framing options and artistic choices available.
Finishing Encaustic Edges | Smooth Sides or Wax dripping down the sides?
One of the reasons I’m drawn to encaustic as a medium is that it doesn’t need to be under glass. I love the textured surface and frequently invite people to touch and feel (and sometimes even smell) the texture of the work.
I have a lot of students who love the organic feel of the wax dripping down the sides and are quite intent to leave it at that. I personally love this look and feel, but rarely leave my work finished this way.
Paint the sides of a cradled panel
It’s my practice to paint the sides of my cradled boards with a dark brown paint and scrape sides clean of wax when I’m done. I’ve found that it’s a huge hassle to repair the lovely drips if they become damaged, they are more difficult to frame, and many people don’t love the drips as much as the artist does. It feels unfinished to them.
It was during the mid 20th century the display of unframed canvases became trendy and acceptable, which I’m very thankful for as much of my work is unframed.
Framing Options | Floater Frames
When framing work it’s imperative to protect the surface of the wax. Never place a frame directly upon the wax. If you like the more traditional look of a frame coming slightly over the image make sure that there are spacers build into your frame and the frame does not touch the surface of the wax.
Most encaustic painters use ‘floater frames’ which are available in a number of styles, heights, and depths. The art is attached to the back thus allowing for a variable space between the art and the side of the frame. It’s your choice how far back to set your work just make sure it’s far enough to protect the entire face if laid face down on a table.
When I do frame my work, I use floater frames usually leaving a ¼ inch gap between the frame and the work. This is a personal preference, it isn’t wrong to have the frame almost butt up to the piece.
Honor your work!
Framing your piece (or finishing it) is a way to honor your work. Of course, this means different things to different people. One of the ways I honor my work when I need a frame I invest in having the work professionally framed. Nash Frame in Minneapolis is my ‘go to’ for all my framing. I’d rather concentrate on what I do best, which is create the work.
One of my all time favorite frames was for a small 5×5 piece done on a thin 1/8 inch board. I really wasn’t sure what to do with it but with the help of Nash Frame we created the most beautiful little floater frame by mounting the piece on a backing board and choosing a frame with a slight ‘swoop’. It’s one of the sweetest little pieces I’ve ever done.
But don’t stop here. There are tons of non-traditional ways to frame and present your work if you use your imagination.
If you liked this post you may also be interested in The Encaustic Iron and Edges another option for finishing the edges of your encaustic painting