Exhibition Countdown: 8 days to go: Ribba Framing Tutorial

With 8 days to go, I continued with the task of mounting my textile sketches in shadow box frames. As I have received several inquiries, this post outlines my process in more detail.

This approach is intentionally budget-driven so that I can offer my textile sketches at an affordable price point. For other works, I would definitely explore custom framing. Consider what is appropriate for your textile art. (See Meredith Woolnough’s posts: Why and How I Frame My Textile Art and  10 Tips for Framing Textile Art.)


  • 25x25cm Ribba  shadow-box frames from IKEA. These come with a glass front and a mat insert with a 13x13cm (5.1 in) window. In consultation with the gallery, I have decided to remove the glass and float my textile sketches on top of the mat so that the edges of my work can be viewed. Not all (many!) of my sketches are perfectly square but I feel comfortable with this authentic presentation. The glass will be available for collectors who wish to have dust protection.
  • 6x6in-ish textile sketches each individually labelled.
  • Mat squares (pre-cut with a craft knife and a metal ruler) to fill the window of the Ribba mat
  • Doubled-sided archival tape and scissors. My tape is 1in wide – acid free and solvent free.
  • Chalk pencil and square rulers
  • Flat knife for levering open the catches on the back of the frame and opening out the hanging hook.
  • Pre-printed labels for the back of the frame (in this case covering up the IKEA label which refused to come off.)

Tools for Floating Framing

Step 1: Frame Preparation

  • Remove the cellophane wrapping from the frame along with the paper insert.
  • Check the frame condition. These are mass-produced, budget frames and may have scratches, dents and other imperfections. I bought extras just in case and am gentle in my handling.
  • Remove the backing and pull out the internal wooden frame.
  • Remove the glass and put in a safe place
  • Remove the second paper insert.
  • Put back the internal frame
  • Check that the mat square fits the window of the Ribba mat

NB: I have chosen to fill in the window for three reasons. It helps the work sit flat without any undue depression in the surface; it gives my wide double-sided tape something to cling to; and  I use the square to help centre the work. Another approach is to cut 23x23cm foam core squares to fit the frame or purchase alternative mats.


Fill the Square

Step 2: Affix the Backing Square

  • Centre the backing square on the back of the work and mark chalk lines so that you can position the square again later.
  • Affix double-sided tape at desired intervals – I was concerned to ensure that the work is securely fixed and, after some experimenting, decided that two strips of tape is more than enough.
  • Gently run the blade of the knife over the back of the archival tape to ensure that it is affixed to the work. Then peel off the protective layer of the tape – I use a pin to lift the edge of the protective cover.
  • Affix the mat square and check that it is centred on the work.
  • Drop the square into the Ribba mat window.
  • Check that the work is centred on the mat and then press firmly so that the work is securely taped to the mat.

Mark the Back

Apply double-sided archival tape

Affix the mounting square

Check the measurements

Step 3: Complete the framing

  • Insert the Ribba mat,
  • Insert the backing and press the catches close.
  • Affix the label.
  • Use the knife to open out the hook mechanism for hanging.

Insert the textile paintingRepeat as required. I have 32 sketches framed and 20 to go. It takes concentration but the results are worth it. Next time, I might hold a framing party and get more of a production line happening.

32 down, 20 to goMeanwhile, I am enjoying revisiting each textile sketch and remembering what inspired their creation.

From inspiration to textile sketch

Natural Abstractions

13 January – 14 February 2018
Gosford Regional Gallery: open daily 10am-4pm
Free admission – All welcome!

Official opening 2pm Saturday 13 January by Rachaeldaisy
Artist Lecture: Driven to Abstraction: 11am Tuesday 23 January
RSVP: +612 4304 7550 or gallery@centralcoast.nsw.gov.au

Natural Abstractions -Brenda Gael Smith solo exhibition

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