How to frame watercolors without a mount

How to frame watercolors without a mount

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Framing watercolors without a mount, also known as “floating” or “float framing,” is a popular and elegant way to display watercolor paintings. This method allows the painting to be seen in its entirety, without any distractions from a mount or matting. Here are some tips and considerations for floating watercolor paintings in frames.

Hand made watercolour papers have very attractive rough edges. Fine artists often chose to leave the edge exposed, floating or surface mounting being their preferred choice.

To correct cockling in the paper (caused by water absorption as watercolour is applied) lightly spray the back of the paper with water and leave the paper under a large weight overnight. 

First and foremost, it’s essential to choose the right type of frame for floating watercolors. A frame with a deep rebate, or recess, is necessary to hold the painting in place without the need for a mount. This type of frame is also known as a “shadow box” frame. The depth of the rebate should be at least equal to the thickness of the watercolor paper to ensure a secure fit.

The next step is to prepare the painting. This includes making sure that the painting is dry and any wrinkles or creases have been removed. It’s also a good idea to add a backing board to the painting to keep it flat and to provide some extra support. The backing board should be cut slightly larger than the painting to ensure that it’s not visible from the front.

Once the painting and frame are prepared, it’s time to insert the painting into the frame. Carefully place the painting into the rebate, making sure that it’s centered and straight. If the painting is not the exact size of the frame, it’s best to use spacers to ensure that the painting is not in contact with the glass. Spacers are small plastic or metal strips that are placed between the painting and the glass to create a gap. This will prevent any damage to the painting from moisture or humidity.

When it comes to hanging a floating watercolor painting, it’s essential to use the correct hardware. D-rings and wire are the most common hanging hardware used for this type of framing. The D-rings should be attached to the back of the frame and the wire should be strung through them. This will provide a secure way to hang the painting without damaging the paper.

It’s also important to consider the lighting when displaying floating watercolors. Direct sunlight or bright overhead lighting can cause fading or discoloration over time. It’s best to hang the painting in a location that receives indirect light and avoid exposure to extreme temperature changes.

In conclusion, floating watercolors in frames can be a beautiful and elegant way to display these delicate paintings.