To frame or not to frame

Would you like a frame with that?

When you buy a piece of art on the internet, do you expect it to be sent to you framed and ready to hang or not? In the past, I’ve offered my work online without a frame. My reasoning was that this kept down shipping costs and allowed the collector to choose a mat and frame according to their own taste or the decor of their home.

I’ve since come to think that this is not such a good idea. For one thing, quality professional framing doesn’t come cheap. In the case of a small watercolor, for example, the framing can easily cost you more than the art. You could go the DIY route and buy a cheap frame at a hobby store, but the results are likely to be disappointing. All in all, I may have been giving my collectors a choice, but I’ve also given them a hassle.

The trouble with watercolors

Watercolors are sort of like cats. They look so dainty and elegant, but it isn’t until you get them home that they reveal just how demanding they can be (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’ve probably never been owned by a cat). Anyway, the trouble with watercolors is that framing them is a cumbersome and potentially costly business. Whereas you can pop an oil or acrylic painting in a frame, add hanging hardware and be done with it, a watercolor needs a mat and glass in addition. And when you’re shipping your art, you have to use plexiglass (acrylic glass) to avoid breakage. There’s the rub: I detest plexiglass. It scratches easily, it attracts dust (not to mention cat hair), and it just plain looks sad.

A pretty decent alternative

To get around this, I’ve been searching for alternative ways to frame watercolors, and I’ve found a pretty good one. This method eliminates the need for a mat and glass altogether, in effect allowing the watercolor to be framed like an oil or acrylic. Here you can see the result of my first experiment with this method. Bonus: no glare from picture glass! What do you think? Next time I’ll talk about the technical details, for those of you who paint watercolors and would like to give this a try.


A Time to Dream
Watercolor mounted on board, 20×20 cm, in black and silver float frame

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2 thoughts on “To frame or not to frame

  1. Alex says:

    Mineke, What are you doing to the surface of the watercolor painting, varnishing or waxing the surface.

    • mineke says:

      Thanks for asking, Alex. I’m using wax to protect the surface of the watercolor. I’ll explain in more detail in my next post.

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