Watercolour Framing - page 2 of 2
I would highly recommend a training course in framing or gather lots of advice from framers before buying any equipment.
The courses can be from one day to a week and cover specific sections of the framing process or the whole process (from beginners to professional level). This will give you a better understanding of what's involved and more importantly, do you enjoy doing the framing.
Making the Frame
Establish the frame dimensions.

As an example: a Watercolour painting of 9" x 13", you need to add the dimension for the mount/mat surround, 3" for each side & top and 3½" at the bottom (this is an example only, the size can be larger or smaller), giving a final mount/mat size of 15½" x 19".

These measurements need to be transferred to the main scale on the Morsų. I place a small pencil line at the 19" and 15½" marks on the main scale. The width of the moulding is measured and a pencil mark is placed on the stop bar sliding scale. It is then easy to line these pencil marks up (helps when doing a number of frames to the same size).

Insert a length of moulding and adjust the rebate support bars to the correct height - this stops the lip being forced down or splitting as the blade cuts through.

At the end just inserted, cut the first mitre (this needs to be done to fit the stop bar on the sliding scale) and then move the moulding along until it hits the stop bar (for this example 19" - for the top length). Check fit, then cut first length and place on a flat surface. For each length of moulding I work clockwise around a frame. The first length is for the top, then the right-hand side, followed by bottom and finally left-hand side. This ensures that the corners match when joined as the moulding can vary (colour wise) along its length.

Adjust stop bar scale pencil mark to 15½" (side length measurement) on the main scale. Push moulding to stop, check and cut.

Place length to right-hand side of first length on the table.

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Adjust stop bar scale pencil mark to 19" (bottom length measurement) on the main scale.

Push moulding to stop, check and cut. Place length bottom on the table.

Adjust stop bar scale pencil mark to 15½" (side length measurement) on the main scale. Push moulding to stop, check and cut.

Place length to left-hand side of first length on the table.

Select two lengths of moulding - top and right-hand side - remember which ends join and place some wood glue on these ends. Place in under pinner and if using an old machine hold the sections so the joint is lined up correctly and insert one 'V' (having first checked that it's in the correct position). Return the jointed section to the table. I only insert one 'V' at this stage as it allows some movement if required.

Repeat for the other two lengths - left-hand side and bottom.

Next join the two 'L' shaped sections together, by inserting one 'V' at each of the opposite corners.

Adjust the under pinner for the second 'V' is to be inserted and then working in an opposite corner manner insert the second 'V' until the four corners are done. Larger moulding will require more 'V'.

Place the frame on a flat surface and leave for a few hours so the glue can dry. Clamps are available to hold the whole frame secure while the glue dries.
Making the Mount
The first decision to make is what width the window mount surround will be. For a 9"x13" painting I use 3" with 3½" for the bottom and for a 13"x20" painting 4" with 4½" for the bottom but the choice is yours.

To save adjusting the mount cutter when cutting the window I add the ½" (added to the bottom) to the other three side giving a board size of 16"x20". You can get four sheets (four paintings) from a full sheet at this size.

Set the mount cutter to 20" and using the vertical cutter trim the board.

Set the mount cutter to 16" and using the vertical cutter trim the board. You now have a board 16"x20".

Adjust the stops to 3½" (Note: not 3") and if necessary change the head to the bevel cutter. Test on a scrap piece that there is no over cut and the centre of the aperture comes out cleanly.

Turn the board face down (so you are cutting it from the back face) and place a scrap piece underneath for the blade to cut into.

Cut the four sides of the window and remove the board, the centre of the window should fall out freely, if not adjust the stops or cut carefully (try not to damage the bevel edge) with a sharp blade.

The last part is to trim the ½" added from three sides to give the final board size. Set the mount cutter/mat cutter to 15½" and using the vertical cutter trim the top of the board, then set measurement to 19½" and trim one side the board and finally, set measurement to 19" and trim the other side.

You should have a 15½"x19" mount board with a 9"x13" window with 3" surround on three sides and 3½" for the bottom.
Lines and embossing:
If you are going to apply any form of decoration to the window mount it should be done now.

A Washline Corner Gauge should be used to mark (lightly) out the corner points of the lines.

You can use a pen for the lines (Pilot Gold and Silver Pens - extra fine, fine or medium) but I've had much better looking results with a ruling (mapping) pen and Daler-Rowney Pearlescent Inks.

I use a sable brush to apply the ink to the ruling pen but only sufficient to complete one line, also make sure there are no bubbles in the mixture and that no ink has got onto the edge that runs along the ruler. Complete the first line (between two of the marks you made) then rotate the mount/mat 180° and do that line, then connect the two lines with the last two.

Always work from the outside, so your ruler never comes into contact with the ink (the ruler I use has a rubber strip underneath which stops movement but also lifts the front edge (this is vital) above the board surface.

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The ruling pen needs cleaning with warm water after doing eight or so mounts in a row before the ink dries.

As with all things, some practice is needed on a scrap piece (the same board you will use), especially the starting and stopping at a mark, getting the ruler the correct distance from the marks and holding the ruling pen at the same angle along the line or you will end up with curved lines.

These decoration lines can be single, double, or used in combination with grooves, colour washes etc. Pearlescent is a unique range of 21 water based acrylic colours producing a shimmering pearl effect which changes as the light strikes from different angles.

Although water soluble, acrylic based inks become water resistant when dry and also extremely lightfast.

The under mount (that I use), glass and backing board can now be cut to 15½"x19".
Attaching painting to the under mount:
The artwork should be hinged to the under mount (not the back of the window mount) with hinges on the top edge, or a similarly reversible process should be used, such as corner pockets. I use the hinge method.

Note: Hinges should be torn, not cut. Hinges should be weaker than, or the same paper weight as, the artwork - never heavier. Turn the painting over so the back is towards you.

Tear a strip of P90 tape (about 12mm or ½" in length) and place on the top edge and about 1" in from each side, with half on, half off, the artwork (some recommend less stuck to artwork, or just enough to hold the artwork).

Not everyone does but I place a further strip (cut in half along length) at right angles to cover the section of the first strip stuck to the artwork (like an inverted 'T').

Turn the artwork the correct way up and place on the under mount (location marks or lines should be made on this board (using a knife blade to lightly mark the surface, it is recommended not to use a pencil) for accurate location of the painting).

Next tear and place a final strip, at right angle, over the section projecting from the artwork. The artwork is now attached to the under mount with two hinges on its top edge.

The next part is to create the hinge between the window mount and the under mount the painting is attached to.

Place the window mount over the painting, making sure it's the correct way up (bigger section at bottom).

Flip the window mount over the top edge, so that the top edges meet, with both boards flat and the side edges line up.

Place a strip of P90 tape over the join line of these two boards (creating an internal hinge) then flip the window mount back. Check that edges line up.
Putting it all together
You should have all to the correct size: a frame, glass, window mount with decoration completed attached to under mount/under mat and backing board.

If not already done, clean both sides of the glass.

Place clean glass over combined window mount, painting and under mount/under mat.

Check, and check again for particles of dust, hair, insects etc. Remove all before proceeding; it is not easy to take the frame apart later to remove any of the above later. I find a strip of the backing film, from the P90 tape, very useful for sliding in and removing particles etc.

Next seal one edge with the P90 tape (some framers combine the backing board; others don't do this stage at all). Start by sticking about 2mm (1/8") onto the top surface of the glass - must be less that rebate (so it does not show) of the frame - then by pressing the glass, mount etc together with one hand, push the tape down over the edge and onto the back. I do the centre of each length first and work to each end.

Repeat for the opposite edge and then the two ends.

The sealed glass etc can now be placed in the frame and the backing board (unless sealed as one unit) placed over it.
Depending on moulding and/or depth of glass, mounts etc insert framers points or flexi points. If using flexi points remove glass etc from the frame rebate and using a piece of card (thickness about half the depth of rebate) as a guide for the point gun. Insert a number along each length and bend up vertically so glass, mount etc will slide in. If it's tight do not force in or the glass will break some space can be made by pushing the bent section with a screwdriver to make it flat.

With the frame face down the lengths of the gummed brown tape needed, can be easily worked out and the four lengths cut. I trim a 45 deg. section off two of the lengths (short length). Wet the gummed side of the tape and stick down the first two longer lengths, followed by the two short ones. Make sure all the edges are stuck down. Then put aside to dry.

Mark (1/3 from the top on both upright sections of the frame) the position of the two 'D-rings'. I drill a small hole before inserting the screw, do not over tighten as some moulding are of soft wood or sometimes the frame can split.

Thread a piece of wire or cord between the two 'd-rings' and tie at both ends. Make sure all is tight and secure. The loose end can be held alongside the main cord with a sleeve (small strip of gummed brown tape) wrapped around both. Hang on the wall with one or two (if heavy) picture hooks.
Care of the original painting
Sunlight is the number one enemy for watercolour paintings. Avoid hanging pictures directly opposite large windows or where sunlight reaches, as this fades colours and discolours the paper. Special UV-coated glass will help to slow this down, but at a cost (see section on glass).
Pictures should not be hung above radiators/fires etc. The constant changes in temperature like the on and off of central heating cause paper and wood to warp or dry out and adhesives to fail.
Damp can cause pictures to ripple. If the ripples touch the glass, the picture might stick and be difficult to remove. Fungal growth is another problem - shows up as brown stains. Conservation framing can slow these effects, but it is always best to avoid hanging framed pictures in humid conditions (bathrooms, kitchens etc). Allow at least six months before hanging pictures on newly plastered walls.
Hang securely :
Use two hooks on the wall if a picture is large or heavy, each hook set about a quarter of the way in from either side of the picture. Check that the cord or wire you use is designed to support the weight of your painting. There are special security fittings available should you wish to protect your painting/s from theft etc.
Dust frames rather than clean with water or fluids. If water or cleaning fluids have to be used on the glass, apply them to a duster first, rather than spraying on the glass directly. Take care not to let the fluid touch the frame or worse get behind the glass.
When carrying or transporting a picture, grasp the frame firmly on both sides (NOT the top). If you need to store pictures, make sure they are stacked vertically and the right way up. When stacking pictures, stand them 'glass to glass' so that the hangers do not damage the frames and do not slide the painting, as this will remove any gilding or colour from the frame or damage (chip) the corners.