Preserving Pretty Pastel Portrait
March 13, 2014 12:15 PM   Subscribe

I have a new pastel portrait that I'd like to preserve. Advice?

I have recently purchased a beautiful pastel portrait. I don't know what kind of pastels were used, but it is definitely pastel. The portrait is about 10"x16", very vibrant colors. Right now it is simply matted and is in a plastic sleeve. It is does not have any sort of fixative on it.

1. I have heard about pastel fixative spray. Is this safe for me to do on my own, or is there a risk of me ruining it by not being an expert? Despite what I hear on the internet, I will NOT be using hairspray instead. Can I just go to an art supply store and buy it? What should I look for?

2. I would like to frame it and hang it. Usually I peruse yard sales until I find a frame the right size, ditch the original picture, and hang the pic I want in it. Should I be looking for a frame with glass in it? What kind of glass?

3. I will not hang it in direct sunlight - I know that much. Anything else I should do for to ensure a healthy environment for the portrait?

My pretty pastel and I thank you.
posted by Elly Vortex to Media & Arts (8 answers total)
Best answer: Do not spray it with fixative. Many of them will yellow it - current best practice is to not use. Do frame it with an archival rag mat and put it under glass not plexi. This is important -the static charge that happens with plexiglas will lead to the particles of pastel ending up on the glazing. That doesn't happen with glass. I wouldn't use non-glare glass because it will blur the details - non-glare only works if it is right on the surface of what you are framing and you don't want to do that with pastel. You can pay the long, long buck for museum glass but frankly you'll be fine with regular glass and hung where direct sun doesn't hit it.
posted by leslies at 12:32 PM on March 13, 2014 [6 favorites]

What about having it laminated? This thread suggests that it could be done. I have done pastel art and I have a laminator but I have never combined the two. Perhaps someone else here would be able to add more.
posted by Lynsey at 12:57 PM on March 13, 2014

when you frame it, make sure there are spacers between the glass (yes, glass, not Plexi) and the artwork. Don't smash the glass right up on the surface of the art.
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 1:01 PM on March 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

leslies has great advice. I'd only add that I recently got something framed and was pleasantly surprised by how inexpensive UV-blocking glass is now. I think it's worth the little bit of extra that you have to pay.
posted by quince at 1:22 PM on March 13, 2014

Best answer: 1) UV protective glass. Seriously.

2) Don't use fixative, but make sure your framer understands there is no fixative.

3) Acid-free backing board.

4) Mat of at least 8-ply depth with an additional spacer between the art and the mat...the art will continually shed pigment onto the mat and look scummy over time. If it has a channel behind the mat, it'll shed into the channel and you won't see it. Acid-free mats, it should go without saying.

5) If no mat, use a spacer under the rabbet (lip) of the frame to give some air space between the glass and the art, or you will get pigment transfer/mildew.

6) Plexi has a static charge which will pull pigment off the drawing over time. Optium plexi is reduced-static, but I still don't trust it. Don't trust anyone who says they can remove static from plexi, all of the methods are minimally effective. Glass is fine, UV protected --or mark a note in your calendar three years' hence so you'll know to take time off to replace your faded art. UV damage, depending on the thing, is visible within 18 months.
posted by blnkfrnk at 2:16 PM on March 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've never found a fixitive that didn't leave spots and discolorations, and the last time I sold a piece done in charcoal my professor told me absolutely no spray fix, and put a sheet of glassine over it until it gets framed.
posted by velebita at 2:47 PM on March 13, 2014

Former Framer here: binkfrnk has it. You want a spacer between the art and the glass. You don't have to do a mat, but it will help with disguising the mounting.

Whatever you do, keep it away from moisture and direct light and don't use plexiglass or the "glare-free" glass. UV protection, but otherwise regular glass.
posted by TooFewShoes at 4:18 PM on March 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Awesome - so no fixative, and I will probably take it to a professional to get framed. After 20 years of going with cheapie garage sale frames, I think I've earned the cost of a professionally framed pic.

posted by Elly Vortex at 5:09 PM on March 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

« Older Appreciating the Density of Shakespeare in Real...   |   "Ba da ba da ba bup" Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.