When you use the services of a custom framer, you are buying talent and the knowledge and ability to select the proper framing materials for your particular project. We hope the information we provide on this page will help guide you in determining the treatment you want for your artwork, and in selecting your framer. Of course, not everything you need to know to properly frame and display your valuable artwork is covered here. It is the duty of your professional picture framer to inform you, enlighten you, and help you choose the best and most suitable framing. If your framer isn’t doing this, find one who will.
It doesn’t cost more to frame it right; in fact, in the long run, it will end up costing less.
To protect your valuable artwork, insist on 'rag', conservation, or museum quality matboard; the cost difference is minimal.
Broadmead Gallery & Framing stocks four different brands of matboard, all of museum quality only.
Did you know that there are more than two types of glass?
All glass is not created equal. In order to preserve, protect and get the most out of your artwork, you have choices to make. Your custom framer should help you select the right glass for your project.
At Broadmead Gallery & Framing, we actually keep six types of glazing in stock at all times. There are of course regular and non-glare, the two that most people are familiar with. However, today, both of these are also available with UV filtering coatings (often called conservation glass) to protect your valuable artwork from fading. Then there are the multiple coated glazings, with coatings similar to those on camera lenses and eyeglasses. These are the clearest types of glass available; and they also come in regular and UV protective versions. There is also Acrylite, a 'plastic' alternative to glass. It is more expensive than regular glass, and it does scratch easily. But in cases where glass is not acceptable, it is still the right material. Acrylite is also available with a UV coating.
The Blessing and Danger of Light
Without light there would be no art, as light is what allows us to see and appreciate colour. It is ironic that the very thing that lets us enjoy colour also works to destroy it.
Have you ever seen an old advertising poster in a window or an old wrapper lying on the ground, sun bleached to a mere fragment of its original colour? Perhaps the paper had become brittle as well, ready to break apart at a touch. This type of damage is caused by the sun, specifically, the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays and heat. Worse, the sun is not the only source of harmful UV light. All light sources, whether natural or artificial, have some of their components in the ultraviolet range.
The most dramatic visual effect of exposure to UV light is the fading of colours, especially those colours that contain red. Other effects include whites turning yellow and some pigments actually darken to black.
The damaging effects of UV light on artwork are cumulative and irreversible.
One of the most important steps you can take to protect your artwork from UV rays is to specify the use of conservation quality glass.
Proper Lighting Techniques
- Choose subdued lighting effects that will not reflect into the glass, especially if you are not using a reflection control product.
- Add a sense of atmosphere by using wall lights of sconces on either side of your framed piece.
- Add emphasis to framed pieces by adding individual picture lights (see your framer for details).
- Do not hang your artwork in direct sunlight.
- Use incandescent bulbs to light your artwork. Incandescent bulbs have only 4% of their rays in the damaging UV range. Fluorescent lights, on the other hand, have a high concentration of UV rays and should not be used.
- If using "spot" lights, be careful not to create shadows by using strong lights on a deep frame.
- Illuminate your art at the lowest level possible for enjoyment.
How to Properly Hang Your Artwork
- Properly hung artwork combines concern for the safety of the artwork with the aesthetic concerns of lighting, and visual balance within the room.
- Take care to hang the piece in an area where it will not become damaged by heat, UV light, or humidity. Avoid direct sunlight, heat sources, and areas with high humidity (such as a seamy bathroom).
- Consider the differences between ambient "room" lighting or "spot" lighting.
- Keep your hanging hardware and wires as "invisible" as possible.
- Hang your artwork at the eye-level of the average person in the room. If you are hanging the art in a room where more time is spent seated than standing, "eye-level" should be lower.
- Hang smaller, more detailed pieces in smaller spaces, where impact is less important than content, and the art can be enjoyed up close.
- Larger "atmosphere" pieces require more room for the viewer to stand back and enjoy. Hang these pieces opposite the entrance to a room or at the end of a corridor.
- Unless you are striving for an eclectic "antique store" look, groupings should look as though they belong together. Select frame styles that are compatible, and matting styles that will work well together and create a balance.
- Spacing is an important element in a grouping. Each picture should be placed neither too close nor too far from its neighbour.
- Often aligning the tops or bottoms of the various pictures in the group provides a balanced and pleasing look.
- Try laying the whole grouping on the floor, to get a sense of how it will work together before putting holes in the walls!
- Ensure you use proper hanging hardware for your type of wall, and that it will bear the weight of the framed piece.
- Use two hooks to hang anything larger than 8 inches x 10 inches or 20cm x 25cm.
- Use a level!
When should you ask for Conservation Framing?
Put simply, when your artwork has value. Whether it is monetary value, as in an original painting, limited edition, or antique that represents a substantial investment; or, sentimental value, as in a family heirloom, or a needlework representing hundreds of hours or work, it deserves conservation framing. Conservation Framing employs the use of materials that have been proven to protect and maintain art in as close to its original condition as possible.
What constitutes 'Conservation Framing'?
The matboard used must be free of lignin, alum, acid and other impurities found in regular matboards. Conservation board is pH neutral and will protect the artwork for many years.
- The artwork should be mounted to a conservation quality backing using pH neutral hinges. In the case of needlework, they should be stretched to a pH neutral backing using no adhesives of any kind. The process should always be completely reversible, or it's not of conservation quality.
- The greatest amount of damage to artwork is often caused by light itself. The ultraviolet part of light fades artwork and breaks down the fibers of paper and needlework at an alarming rate. The answer is to insist on "conservation" glass. This glazing filters out 97% of harmful UV light; and is available in regular and non-glare types.
Let your framer know that you want Conservation Framing...
Let your framer know that you want conservation framing employed on your project whenever the subject you are framing is something that you treasure, be it for monetary or sentimental reasons. Specifically, request the following...
When going over your artboard/matboard options with your framer, ask him to her to discuss with you conservation matboard options. Ordinary pulp-based matboard contains acids and lignin which, over a period of time, damage the artwork they come in contact with. Conservation quality artboard/matboard is free of all acids, lignins and other impurities, resulting in an inert or pH neutral board.
Discuss what glass will be used on your piece. All glass is not created equal. Consider the value of the item and where it will be displayed. A bright room or a window or lamp could cause reflections (consider reflection control coated glass). Exposure to ultraviolet light will damage your artwork. Your framer should help you select the right glass for your project. If you value the artwork or keepsake you are framing, specify conservation quality glass.
Demand a careful adherence to proper conservation techniques for mounting the artwork (sometimes called 'hinging') and sealing your artwork. The framer should be fully versed in the specifics of conservation hinging. Be sure to impress upon him or her how much the piece means to you, and demand that proper conservation standards be upheld.
Finally, remember most items you frame are either original, limited edition, irreplaceable, heirloom, or in some other way valuable to you. So where you take it for framing is very important. If your framer doesn't offer true conservation quality, or is unwilling, or worse, unable to explain the differences, find a new framer.
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