The Art of Archival Framing

Posted on 12 July 2011

Are your favorite photographs, artwork or collectables hidden away somewhere in a box because you don’t know how to display them in your space safely? There are worry-free ways to show off the things that mean so much to you through proper, preservation framing. With pieces that are meaningful to you, old and fragile, or original pieces of artwork you want to do archival framing. Archival framing will keep these things safe from elements that cause decay, bleaching in color, and tearing.

Old family photos make for a great wall collage!

Be Mindful of Matting

When matting your artwork choose 100% acid free or archival matting. The alternative will cause what framers refer to as “slow burning”—the acid in the paper used with general matting can be abrasive and eat away at your artwork over time, causing irreversible damage. [caption id="attachment_630" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Archival framing is a must for anything that is valuable or a collector's item "][/caption]

Ta-Ta, Tape!

Any adhesive or tape used on paper has the same effect as non-acid free matting—it can cause slow burning and yellowing. The acid in the adhesive wears down the fibers in paper over time. To avoid this framers use a process called hinging. Hinging is done with an acid-free tissue like tape, alkaline, or Japanese handmade paper made typically out of cotton, wheat, or rice starch. The fibers in hinging tape adhere to the fibers in the paper or matting securely and safely. Hinging is most often used for illustration and water color. [caption id="attachment_632" align="aligncenter" width="360" caption=""Meadowlark" by Steven Dinsmore. Click photo to see more prints at the ADC Inc. website. "][/caption] When framing photographs do not use glue or tape, use picture corners. Picture corners are little plastic sleeves that fit the corners of the photo holding it in place without coming into any direct contact with chemicals. These will be covered by your matting. However, if you choose not to have a mat, then hinge the photographs. [caption id="attachment_626" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Click photo to see more of Art Hasinski's artwork "][/caption] *Fun Fact! There are two types of hinges: T-hinge and V-hinge. The T-hinge is all purpose. The V-hinge is used when you want the edges of your art to be visible and not covered by the mat.

Glass with Class

You don’t want the glass to directly touch the surface of the piece being framed. Over time the moisture in the air will cause the glass to stick and ruin your artwork. To avoid this, use matting or glass/plastic spacers.  Glass spacers go behind the glass within the frame, separating the art from the glass. This can be done not only to conserve that which is being framed, but also as an esthetic element that creates interesting depth in the design! [caption id="attachment_634" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Stamp collection framed in Larson Juhl. Click photo to see more at the Larson Juhl website! "][/caption] When choosing which kind of glass (…you mean there is more than one kind?!) always choose conservation clear or museum glass. These protect your art from Ultraviolet rays that can cause permanent damage like fading or yellowing of colors. [caption id="attachment_631" align="aligncenter" width="340" caption="Sihouette collage's framed in Larson Juhl. Click photo to see the Larson Juhl website! "][/caption]


Be Aware of Backing

When taking on a framing project on your own, many will back their pieces with cardboard, wood, or regular foam core. All of these are extremely high in acid and can corrode your artwork. However there is such thing as acid-free, archival foam core which is what you would use when doing conservation framing. This foam core does not have the acid paper front and back and does not have the core that deteriorates over time. [caption id="attachment_628" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Click photo to see more of Kevin Poole's artwork "][/caption]

Ask Your Framer!

The easiest way to accomplish preservation framing is by going to a custom framer you trust and who knows about the proper conservation techniques. They can tell you when archival framing is necessary based on the piece being framed. And feel free to ask questions! Tell them when a piece is of the utmost importance you, and talk through all your options. Sometimes we don’t know the things we have at home are so valuable or fragile, so it never hurts to get an expert’s opinion before framing the things you treasure!

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Meet Litsa

Litsa Spanos – loving wife and mother of three – is an established art consultant, award-winning gallery owner, custom framer and educator. In this blog, Litsa shares with you her love for beautiful things. She will give you an exclusive look into the world of fine art and the artists who create it. She will also let you in on inspirational design ideas that are sure to give your home or office energy, warmth and reflect your own personal style.




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