Framing Matters

by Chris A. Paschke, CPF GCF




IEA Newsletter - Wax-On, October2010

"Float Spaces, Face Depth"


The float space is the gap—or void--between the inner edge of the frame and the rigid canvas, cradle, or panel artwork (diagram 1).  The float depth—or recess—is the distance from the top of the frame to the art.


Traditional placement of a canvas in a floater is 1/16" to 1/8" beneath the face of the frame with a 1/8" float space between the art and the side of the frame.  The float space for encaustic art is far more flexible and variable depending on the art and the illusion being created.  There is no right or wrong when it comes to encaustic and float spaces.  A tight float space might be perfect for a poured piece with no wax on the edges, while a deep gallery wrap or 2" cradle might look better with a full inch float space.











Float Space

Although a canvas may only be 1/8" from the inner frame edge, encaustic surfaces and edging will dictate the type of float frame and the distances required for the float space and float depth (photo 1).  Deckle drip wax edges may be very uneven and usually a simple narrow face, black float may be the best choice (photo 2).  The edges of a banded pour are generally clean and square and the contrast between the inner hard edged square and the negative space of a wider float space often accents the art (photo 3). 




float space1


photo 1

Top left is deckle drip with uneven float space.

Bottom left is a 1" pour with clean edges but uneven surface.

Right side is smooth uneven edges with more even space.








float space2



photo 2

Deckle drip wax edges are uneven and will vary the float space.

A plain, simple black frame may best enhance this type of art.









float space3




photo 3

A wider float space better enhances the clean edges of a pour.







Float Depth

How deep is deep enough?  Traditional stretched canvas recesses—the distance from the frame face to the art--are 1/32" to 1/8" (photo 4).  If the depth is to be 1/8" it must be aligned and measured from the highest point on the surface of the art.  Pay attention to all areas of the wax or paint.  For encaustic paintings float depth may be anything from 3/8" to 1" depending on the size of the panel and the floater frame.  Though face recess is often greater for encaustic than for canvas, in either case it must be deep enough to protect the full surface of the art if the frame were laid face down on the table. 


An uneven pour may be far closer to the frame face at some spots than others.  Photo 5 shows the wax closer at the corners than the center.  The float depth and float space may also be selected as an accent to help direct the viewers eye into the art.  If the art is heavily textured and embedded perhaps a gold or silver accent frame face will help tie into the medium, while a wider float space may surround the art with an accented field of black—like a mat (photo 6).





Fit-Nurre Corner



photo 4

A stretched canvas is traditionally less than 1/8" to the frame face.

With only 1/8" float space.










photo 5

This uneven pour is far closer to the frame face at the corners

and lower in the center.











photo 6

This small 4x4" textural panel is set a full 1/2" back from the frame face.

The black lining seems to mat the art, while the gold face accents the color of the medium.







Design Proportions

Watch the proportions and comparison of the face width to the float space.  If the face of the profile is 1/4", the float space should be slightly less than or greater than 1/4".  Deckle drip art frequently has uneven edges with a float space of 1/16" at some points and nearly 1/4" at others.  A simple black narrow float often works well and helps keep a variation in the space making the art more interesting.  A clean square edge cradle may be fairly evenly spaced with a 1/4" face and 3/16" float space because of the crisper contrasts.


Always work with your framer to find the color, depth and space proportions that best enhance and protect your encaustic masterpiece.




Chris Paschke, CPF GCF

Designs Ink

785 Tucker Road, Suite G-183

Tehachapi, CA 93561



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