Building and gilding the frame for the “Not #MeToo” painting

Building and gilding the frame for the “Not #MeToo” painting

What to do when you cannot afford prefabricated frame molding? Build your own frame! It’s much more work, but it definitely saves money.

Florida artist Kevin Grass picks out frame molding at Lowe's.

Here I am at Lowe’s home improvement store, picking out frame molding. My wife Michaela gives me a second opinion on my choices and I settle on two different moldings that I will need to combine to make a frame that is about 5″ wide. If I had not gotten lucky at Lowe’s, I would have tried Home Depot and Weiss Hardwoods in Largo, Florida, to find good molding. Thankfully, I found success on my first stop.

Here are the materials for making the frame on my trusty art cart. I am fortunate that the Clearwater campus of St. Petersburg College, where I teach studio art, has an excellent wood shop that I can use during the off hours. That way, I only have to use the miter saw at home in our garage for basic cuts, and I can have access to superior equipment.

Florida artist Kevin Grass wears a red clown nose on Red Nose Day 2018.

I am painting the base of the moldings red, because the traditional “bole,” or clay and glue mixture that is used in the water gilding process, is usually red. I am not actually using this process, but want the frame to have a traditional gold-leaf look. The red will warm up the gold in parts where the metal leaf cracks. In honor of “Red Nose Day,” which is dedicated to ending child poverty, I am wearing a red clown nose.

Back at home in our garage, I start to put together the two different moldings to make the sides of the frame. I am already sweaty from a 25-mile bicycle ride, so I may as well work out here with just an oscillating fan to cool me off in the Florida heat.

Then it’s time to take the frame pieces back to the Clearwater SPC campus to ensure that the frame fits snugly around the painting.

The back of the frame molding and how it is put together by Kevin Grass.

Here you can see how I combined the two moldings to make a wider piece for the frame.

I use test pieces of molding to determine if I will go with gilding (on the left) or gold spray paint with antiquing (on the right) for this frame. Even though it is much more work, I decide to stick with the gold-leaf process. While it takes significantly longer, my perfectionist nature says that I cannot stint here.

The first piece of molding is halfway gilded. It takes about 3 hours to apply the gold leaf to one of these segments and I have six of them to complete!

Here is a shot of how one completed segment of the frame looks next to the painting.

This is the painting with the gold frame completed.

When I visited Grand Rapids during Art Prize last year, I noticed that not many of the really large paintings had frames. Most just had their edges painted. I am hoping that going to this much trouble to provide a nice frame for my painting will give me a competitive edge. The painting will definitely look better framed when it is hung in the Ford Presidential Museum. I am so honored that I can show my piece in such a classy venue.

If you’d like to see some of the works I photographed during Art Prize 2017, please check out my blog post on my website here: Kevin Grass’s visit to Art Prize 2017 in Grand Rapids It even includes a little video I made of the most fascinating works I saw during my 3-day visit.

Thanks again for tuning in! Come back soon!

Kevin Grass signature

To see my entire portfolio of paintings, please check out! You can purchase original paintings and fine art print reproductions directly from my website.

Blog post 19 of 22

Leave a Reply

Become a Creative Pinellas Supporter