- Framing Flash Fiction, Part I
I frequently tweet threads of various processes, mostly as a way to stay focused and motivated. The side perk is that I end up with a record of how I did something, complete with photos. Would totally make a great blog post (or series) right?
I thought so, too. #obvious
Flash Fiction is an older body of work that’s needed framing. Badly. The pieces were originally painted on metal flashing, with encaustic paint I made from scratch. Protip: Wax does not stick to metal, and however much fun it might be to work on it does not have the kind of longevity needed in the kind of work you hang on a wall in your home. (It’s one thing if the work is meant to be temporary, but these weren’t.) So, with some help of my husband, Steve, we worked out at least three ways of framing these pieces, and with a bit of trial and error, settled on the most efficient and visually appealing method. (It ended up becoming my go-to framing method for all new works, that’s how well it works for how I paint, and it works for whatever substrate I use.)
We worked this out a while ago, but because I juggle so many other projects, it took me a while to get around to framing the remaining pieces in Flash Fiction. (Truthfully, at the time of writing this, I’m STILL not done – I keep getting side tracked by other things that need doing.) But hey, I finally got tired of seeing them stored in a box under my desk, had a bit of unscheduled time, and really needed to do some art work. I figured there’d be feels, but didn’t quite anticipate the kind. But you’re here for the framing, so, I’ll get to the photos, and sneak in the thoughts between process, because, like it or not, feels are a major part of the process for art. (I mean, face it, if you wanted no-feels framing guides, you’d be reading a carpentry blog or watching a YouTube video, not reading an artist’s blog. So, yeah, that’s on you, dude.)
Disclaimer: THIS is the second method of framing we tested. The third and final is minor tweaks, but I like it better for how much cleaner the sides look. But this is about framing Flash Fiction, not just about framing.
Right, Well, We need A Frame
These frames wouldn’t really be worth mentioning (outside of the bragging rights of OMG I MAKE MY OWN FRAMES BITCHES) except that they have a couple of special bits about their final use that need to be taken into consideration, things that make their manufacture an absolute detailed-oriented pain in the ass. (This is all thanks to my being a materials-use-deviant when it comes to my paintings, but I digress.)
The biggest is that these frames need to be watertight once they’re finished. That means no gaps in the corners, or joins, or edges… or at all. But not because I’m putting paint in them, oh no, it’s because I’m putting a finished painting in the bottom of them and then filling them with a two part epoxy resin. (Much to the horror and mocking from other self-proclaimed encaustic painters, the last time I made the mistake of mentioning it around them.) Oh, and, that resin gets hot while curing and has a tendency to detach silicone caulk from wood (we tried that first, you would NOT believe the mess this makes) AND it seeps under basically everything so you better fasten that painting down or it will just float on top. Oh, and if you pour it in too thick of layers, it melts encaustic paint.
But WHY?! Why not just pour the resin in thin layers over the painting and them frame it?
Because nothing sticks to wax, which is what encaustic paint is made out of.
We tested it. The resin peels right off. Even if you give it wood on the side under the painting that you let it run down on. (Which also looks like crap, incidentally.) So it has to be in a wood box. A watertight wood box.
This soup sandwich of WTF factors is why it took us so long to figure out how to (a) build the frames, (b) get the paintings in the frames and keep them there, and (c) not melt the paintings unless I wanted that effect. But we had to figure it out, because I really, really needed/wanted the effect and protection the resin lent to my encaustic paintings.
That is why this process was worth documenting, because to pull something like this off means you’re not just giving a double flying bird salute to the people who say it shouldn’t be done, you’re also wrestling materials into doing something they don’t want to do.
We figured it out – and I’ve used it on some glorious, massive pieces in the years since. But it took until this year before I really got the whole system in place, from painting surface to finished framing, thanks to framing up Flash Fiction. Practice (lots and lots, it’s a fairly large series) makes you work out better ways of doing things.
Now, all that said – here’s the first installment of the process. Enjoy.
Obviously, or hopefully at least, measuring the paintings is first up. Since most of the pieces were roughly the same size, most of the frames were.
Most. We ended up doing two batches of frames, one for frame that fit the smaller set, and one for the small handful of pieces that were a little larger.
(Look, I had cut the flashing these were on with tin snips years ago, and if I have a hard time with straight lines now, when equipped with squares, rulers, levels, and a second person checking my work for safety, what makes you think they’d be anywhere near even back then? Yeah. Straight lines are just not my thing naturally, and I can own that.)
But frames. We cut the base shape, and then cut the sides, and using wood glue, attached the sides to the base. With a lot of little clamps. Clamps are YOUR FRIEND when you’re framing.
For people who know framing already: No, not a framing strap clamp. We wanted to pinch the wood DOWN for these. Eventually, in the third and final framing arrangement, the one I use in frames after Flash Fiction, a strap sorta works. Sorta. It’s still fiddly.
It’s sanding and spray paint next. Sanding is 80 grit to clean up followed by 220 grit to smooth everything out, using my workhorse of a palm sander. For paint, initially I was using high gloss black, but eventually switched over to furniture lacquer. Works a lot better.
And then it’s just wait for the paint to dry. Doesn’t take too long, but I usually wait until the next day to actually frame anything in it. Just to be safe.
This one’s gotten long, so I’ll save the resin steps for the next post. It’s a LOT of pictures, and that’s just not fair to your data plan to do all of them at once.