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Some Thoughts on Framing Miniature Paintings

My magnets can be framed in a grid!

The first time I made some of these miniatures I was still in my teaching years, with perhaps 9 or 10 years to go before retirement. I loved making them from the very start and my enthusiasm for the activity hasn’t waned over the years. That’s probably because I allow so many different kinds of things to happen in them, so many subjects, and so many methods of making…’s a great way to explore the whole concept of picture making in a very free way. While there are definite themes that I work with in these tiny pieces, it is also a place where all kinds of impulsive play can happen, without limitation. That’s not to say that the pieces are necessarily quick….some of them take a fair bit of time and are carefully laboured over.

But at the same time, every little experiment is a framed, beautifully presented finished work of art (there’s contradiction in everything).

From the very beginning I would turn these miniatures into collectible works of art by making them permanent. They are most usually done on paper, trimmed and glued onto thin masonite panels which have been coated with a number of coats of satin paint, 2 coats of acrylic varnish are applied, they are signed on the back, and a thin, sturdy magnet is glued to the back, turning them into fridge magnets, so that people can display them with no extra further effort.

I know that I do a lot of things that trained fine artists are NOT supposed to do. For one thing, my prices are extremely low, but this doesn’t bother me because I don’t much need to rely on the income, and my main aim is to move the work. And, you’re not supposed to devalue your art by turning it into fridge magnets….any blockhead knows that!! :) But I wanted people to be able to buy real and interesting art for very little expense, and this was a good solution. It actually makes me smile that they are fridge magnets. In terms of the integrity and quality of items, fridge magnets are generally regarded as the lowest of the low. Fridge magnets are usually throw-away cheap junk. But mine aren’t…contradictions are often enjoyable.

Hundreds of people have purchased these miniatures over the years and most often they DO end up on the fridge. My fridge, for example is covered with so many….…it’s where I store them before they are sent out all over the world. I also have a lot more on magnetized boards because the fridge just couldn’t contain them all.

I’m very happy when people DO realize that they are getting something of quality that is unusual and rare, even if they are not spending very much money. So it’s wonderful when people tell me that they have framed these pieces by arranging them in a grid. And the grid can be any size, depending on how you want to arrange the pieces.

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If you decide to frame them, it’s not necessary to remove the magnet. A tiny dab of silicone glue or double sided tape (Gorilla is good) will hold each piece in place on your framing back surface. You can do the framing yourself, using a shadow box as suggested in the video, or a framer can easily do the work.

Alternatively, they can also be matted and framed under glass. I can visualize 4 images in a block looking great this way.

Or, more traditionally, I could see 3 miniatures in a row, matted under glass, with a deep matte (so that the glass does not ride on the image), and allowing for 1/4” of space around all sides of each image, to the beveled matte edge….and allowing the matte to be at least 4 “ wide top and sides, and 4.5 “ at bottom, but preferably even more because these are small pieces. Lots of matte around small pieces can look really good. If you are framing, keep the frame molding simple and slim. In framing anything, simpler is usually better.

I’m still busily making floater frames for the panel pieces I’m painting, but as fall arrives and the weather gets progressively colder, I’ll be less inclined to mill wood outside. As always, everything I make is listed to my 2 sites usually the very next day.

Oh…a side note! I really enjoyed being at the Buckhorn Art Festival so I’ll likely do it again next year.

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Harry Stooshinoff