Framing Charcoal Drawings

Okay, so I’m used to framing my artwork myself. Got my matt board, cutter, and have a friend whose dry-mount press I use. That’s right, drymount press – I’m used to framing my photos.

But what the heck am I supposed to do with my conté drawings??

Conté, for those unfamiliar, is a very similar medium to charcoal. I can’t drymount it of course, but I have no experience framing anything that’s not photographic. Google has only yielded results that point to wear I can buy charcoal drawings or do-it-yourself supplies.

Anyone have any resouces/links/recommendations?

Artist checkin’ in here. I personally can’t stand drymount - it’s the bane of my existence. I think it did a better job at scorching some of my stuff than it did at mounting them.

Now when you say you use the press to frame your photos - do you mount them onto the backing of a frame, which then sits within the wood of the frame, with glass overtop? In that case, if you want to mount a conte drawing, I might suggest spray glue. It’s evil and can be carcinogenic, but I used it to mount some of my conte work. It’s pretty tacky, so you shouldn’t have to touch the drawing much when you press it down. In any case, you might want to use a spray fixative on the drawing to help prevent it from transferring. Hope that helps.

For my exhibition photos I use fibre based paper which curls viciously so I pretty much have to drymount them. I use gallery quality material only (acid free mattboard etc.) In theory, they should last 100 years (but since I won’t be around then, I won’t be able to post back to verify that :wink: ) Never had a problem scorching anything. I’ve got the drymounting of photos down to a science though. Especially after my last show. Quite labor intensive.

Oo! That sounds awful. No, mine are drymounted onto acid-free mattboard, with a matt frame overtop first so that nothing ever touches the actual surface of the photo itself. (Og, forbid!) The backing of the frame is usually some kind of acid free foam core type material. It touches the back of the mattboard only, no the photo itself. It’s totally independent of the drymounted photo on matt board inside. I occasionally re-use my frames depending on the show and whether or not anyone wants to buy the frame along with the photo. The drymounted photos within the mattboard frames are stored separately when not on display.

My frames are… er, specific… I’d have to look at the catalog, the wholesale place that supplies my frames and glass know what I always get, so I don’t even need to fill out the paperwork. They cut the metal and glass to spec for me, and I pick it up and assemble it myself.

Conté is a touch more oily than charcoal, I would assume that in the drymount press it would bleed. Hm. I should rip an unimportant page out of my sketchbook to see what would happen.

Some of my conté work I do go back to over time. It’s usually been sprayed with either a fixative or a working fixative. Thank Og, it’s not as messy as pastels (Oy! One stroke and you’ve turned half the stick into powder!). In this case, it would have a matt board overlay as well, again to prevent the glass from touching the actual surface of the work.

I know they make acid-free spray glue, but is it kosher for archival, conservation framing? For that matter, what about the fixative? Nasty stuff! But I’d assume it’s okay.

It’s weird, I’ve never exhibited my non-photo work before (well, okay a few paintings, but they don’t get framed the same way), so I’m really quite clueless. No idea what to do at all.

Okay, so I did a Google search on framing pastels (pretty similar properties to conté), which was a little helpful.

Indeed, it seems that they are not mounted on to the backing at all, and there was a handy trick about using a reverse bevel (or a spacer) for the mat so that any dust that may drop off will not collect on the lip of the matt. Good idea.

So that answers a portion of my question, but… how is the drawing/painting mounted to the mat frame? This is the goofy question which I know is a no-brainer – that’s why I’m not seeing it anywhere. It’s too basic a question.

So is it linen tape or something? (The hinged at the top kind of thing?)

Oog. No, that doesn’t sound quite right.

I’m going to let this thread die. But PLEASE NOTE: While I drymount FB paper photos, I would of course never ever drymount any original artwork permanently to any backing. The above quote was just because I’m curious to see what would happened to such a medium put through a drymount press.

As per the OP, I know full well I can’t drymount charcoal drawings, conté paintings, and whatnot. (But I’d still love to see what would happen if I cooked a sketchbook page in the press! Mwa-ha-ha-ha!)

So if anyone was getting any bad ideas – Dont’ ever do that! Not with original artwork: pencil, pen, pastels, watercolour, whatever.

I still don’t know how to properly fix the artwork to the mat board and mat cadre to meet conservation guidelines (which means it’s not permanenty fixed to either surface), but I’m going to visit a gallery tomorrow.

It’s been yonks and yonks since I’ve worked at a frame shop, but I’d go with the linen tape hinges as they don’t affect the visible side of the art. And rather than a reverse-cut mat, I’d do an under mat, straight- cut about half an inch larger than the top (visible) and usually bevel-cut mat.

If your paper is at all curly, you may want to also “hinge” the bottom of the art, unless the under-mat will be able to hold it down - YMMV here, depending on how close to the paper’s edge you were drawing.

Heck, I’ve done hinge mounts with masking tape on photos for temporary exhibits. It’s a useful technique to have in your back pocket when there’s something you can’t or shouldn’t permanently glue down.

A standard triple mat is all that’s required. Non-glare glass is nice, as charcoal tends to shine at certain angles, so if the glass is shiny there may be no good viewing angle.

Oo! Cool. The paper actually behaves itself but/because it’s big. (Hey it’s too expensive for me to print my photos bigger then 30" so I’m figuring I may as well may my conté paintings so large.) So linen tape hinges are the standard for framing art on paper? That seemed weird to me. Only because I’ve grown so accustomed to FB photos and fighting with them to finally drymount.

My mats are all always custom, cut to suit the artwork. Same with the frames. And I also get myself some generously sized paper to guarantee that I tend to have a lot of room to spare. If my overlap is so generous can I expect the paper to stay reasonably flat? (I’d worry that a bottom hinge would cause buckling if the humidity changes for a day)

In fact for prints that are destined for gallery exhibition, I flatten the super-curly FB paper in the press and mount them “temporarily” with hinges (drymouting isn’t considered “conservation museum quality” although there is a school of thought that feels the mounting protects the back from moisture). For the most part though the dry mounted prints make my life a lot easier. Museums and fastidious galleries don’t go for drymounting (if anything happens to the matting , you’re doomed!), so if ever my work was deeemed worthy enough to be in a fancy-schmancy place, I assumed I’d have to use my “temporary” hinging.

But I’ve always thought of hinges as so temporary are they really so stable that you can treat them so… permanent?

Are you telling me that all along I’ve had the know-how to mount these correctly???

Like when that bitch Glenda forgot to mention tha the ruby slippers could’ve take Dorothy home all along :wink:

The conté isn’t quite as pesky as charcoal with the shine. I’m pretty aggressive and heap it on thick, so I usually use a workable fixative. I’ve found the fixative tends to dull down the shine (but maybe that’s just me).

Is fixative okay? As far as vile chemicals go, I mean? In the interest of long lasting artwork, I could probably forgo the fixative. I haven’t worried too much about it because it doesn’t seem to affect the conté pigments as much as it does the pure tonal qualities of pastels. But I may be mistaken. Is fixative a no-no?

And my glass is good. My photos are very dark, so I have to get glass that has little glare because dark prints behind glass turn your frame into a mirror. :rolleyes:

Eats_Crayons has asked that this thread be closed. Seems that Eats is almost the only one posting to it.

Eats has been in contact with some museum curators who say that spray glue, like any method of “permanently affixing any original artwork (as opposed to a photo which can be reprinted from the negative) is the equivalent of destroying the work.”

I’d like to add the obvious but simple warning that you should be very cautious of any advice that you get from an open, online Message Board. Even people with the best intentions can still provide bad advice – and what works for them may not work for you.