Framing Tips


Some framing tips

These framing tips are to help you protect your artwork on paper. Ask for references for a reputable framer from knowledgeable friends, print dealers, or museums. Since improper framing can permanently damage your print, it is important that you find a professional framer who uses archival materials. Prints should only be mounted on a ph neutral backing board and should never be stuck to the backing board with anything other than archival tape or hinges. Preferably this tape should be removable without causing the back of the print to tear. Prints are never glued or taped directly to a backing with double-sided tape; hinges made of linen or fine Japanese paper hold the print to the backing with non-acidic, non-staining, reversible adhesives.

By using archival materials the framer is assuring you that everything that comes in contact with the print is pH neutral, or acid-free. This means that nothing in the framing materials will alter or destroy the paper or inks of the print.

Non acid-free materials harm prints in the following way. Mat board which is not chemically inert and free of acid transfers its acidity to the paper, which over time causes it to turn brown (known as mat burn), become brittle, and even to disintegrate when removed from the mat. Museums recommend that mats be made from 100 percent cotton rag mat board, at least two-ply in thickness. A less expensive alternative is “conservamat”, or a conservation board, which is made from highly purified pH neutral wood pulp. Some fabrics like linen, cotton, and silk are also safe to use.

It is not necessary to use a window mount in your framing. A window mount is a matter of personal taste. Often a print with a large border is simply hinged to a backing – this is called “floating” the print and requires a spacer, hidden by the edges of the frame, to keep the print from touching the glass in the same way that a window mount does. A window mount may cover the edges of the paper if you prefer (although the edges are considered to be an integral part of the print) or the print may float within the window.

Never allow your print to touch the glass or perspex of the frame. Both glass and acrylic sheeting (perspex) condense moisture from the air, and if your print touches either, it may actually stick to the surface and be ruined. Both materials will protect your print and filter some of the harmful rays of light. Glass is cheaper, but it breaks easily. Ultraviolet filtering glass and perspex are available at a higher cost. Since glass is heavier than plastic, it may be impractical for very large prints. Always use clear glass and not the non-reflective type. Perspex although lighter, is more expensive than ordinary glass, scratches easily, and carries an electrostatic charge which causes it to attract dust. With time, perspex also tends to sag in the centre, possibly touching your print.

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