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Framing Pastelbord

by Michelle Weise. Artwork provided by Mike Etie

A painting by Michelle Weise on pastelbord

Step 1–Securing Artwork to a Backing Board

For an 8 x 10 Pastelbord, begin by cutting down a 3/16" sheet of foamboard to 15" x 13". This is called the backboard. Use a comfortable craft knife with a new blade. The first cut should score the board and the 2nd cut should go all the way through. Your glass size and frame size will be 15"x 13". This will allow a 2-3/4" mat on all sides of the finished artwork. Cut four 2-1/2" strips of foam board. Two at 10-1/2" and two at 12-1/2". Center the artwork on the backboard. Lay the cut strips around the Pastelbord in a mosaic pattern. Secure three of the strips to the backboard with two strips of ATG tape along the backs of each strip, making sure the foamboard fits very snug against the artwork. Remove the artwork and put a few 2" lengths of ATG tape on to the center of the backboard. Reposition the Pastelbord and press lightly to secure it. Now secure the 4th and last strip snug against the artwork.

Diagram showing placement of foamboard srips

Step 2–Creating a Spacer

Cut more foamcore strips. This time, use a 2" width (narrower than the previous strips). Cut 2 at 10-1/4" and 2 at 12-1/4". This time, stagger the mosaic pattern over the previous strips (See Illustration). Secure these strips with ATG tape 1/4" away from the artwork. The 1/4" space prevents the viewer from seeing the structural support of the spacer. The spacer provides protective air between the glass and the artwork. Conservationally, it is healthier for the artwork. It also allows a drop/fall area for any floating pastel dust.

Diagram showing the finished frameDiagram showing spacer placement

Step 3–Cutting the Mat and Fitting

Cut your mat with a mat cutter with the outside dimension of 15" x 13". Measure off a 2 3/4" border on all sides and make your beveled window cut. Lay the cut mat on top of the spacer. It is not necessary to secure this mat, but you can hinge it like a book page if you wish with conservation white tape. A slight attractive shadow will appear between the mat board and the artwork. Lay the glass over the mat board. Lay your wood frame over the glass, turn over and secure with a point driver and framer’s points. Finish off with a craft paper duster sheet and hanging hardware. If you are using a metal frame, join three sides of the frame and carefully slip the glass and artwork package into the frame. Adjust and fit the 4th side of the metal frame together. Use your hanging hardware and finish off. See Illustration #3


There are many ways to frame. This is only one way. You can change the dimensions of your frame, mat and glass if you are purchasing standard sizes. Be creative in your approach and just take it one step at a time. You can achieve impressive results with this wonderful panel.

Tip: Glass, Not Plexiglas

The more space left between the glass and artwork, the better. Since pastel dust tends to fall off a little over time and with movement, glass is the best protective barrier. Plexiglas will create static electricity and actually draw the particles towards its surface and they will stay there.