Materials & Techniques
“Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten.”
Picture framing is a union of art and science. There are the aesthetic elements such as an ornately gilded frame or French panel that accentuate and heighten the enjoyment of the artwork. And then there are the “behind the scenes” elements such as UV filtering glass or archival hinging that are the science of framing.
Quality framing doesn’t have to cost a lot. Your art will be protected as long as these basic preservation practices are followed: use an ultraviolet (UV) light blocking glazing, provide neutral Ph surroundings (preferably cotton rag, but at least lignin free) and follow proper mounting procedures. Preservation framing is accomplished with materials that do no harm to the artwork using reversible techniques, thus protecting against anticipated environmental hazards. The frame itself is what provides overall support and stability, and is typically the costliest element. To that end, we offer a wide range of options, from economical to lavish. No matter what your needs, we strive to provide you with QUALITY and VALUE!
Fine art must be secured to allow for expansion and contraction of the art itself. In most instances, art on paper will be hinged from the top so it won’t buckle with changes in heat and humidity. These hinges should always be reversible so as not to alter the art. There are also non-adhesive attachments, such as Mylar strips or encapsulation used to support items such as fragile documents or magazines. Different types of art require different hinging and mounting approaches. Fabric items, such as a jersey or communion dress, are sewn into place with fine thread. Three-dimensional objects, such as books or masks, may require polyester strapping or bent rod attachment. Ultimately, we strive for an invisible and reversible method for mounting your fine art, and we’ll discuss all of the options with you.
We also mount items to different substrates using a heated vacuum press. The main benefit of heat mounting is to prevent waviness in the art caused by atmospheric changes. Posters are generally mounted to foam board using a high temperature permanent adhesive. In recent years, there have been some great new advances in low temperature dry mounting. These new methods are a perfect match for the latest printing papers which are prone to adverse heat reactions. This new mounting technology is archival, reversible and very smooth allowing for new and improved aesthetic treatments.
Mats play an integral role in an archival framing package as they keep the glass from coming into direct contact with your artwork. This provides an air space which prevents damage due to condensation and helps to scatter and lessen the effects of UV light. For further protection of your valuable art, we use only preservation quality acid-free and lignin-free mat boards. These mats are either solid rag (100% cotton) or processed alpha cellulose fibers. For other design options without traditional overmatting, we use liners, shadowbox walls and spacers to separate the glazing from the artwork.
If something is visible to the naked eye, it’s a guarantee that ultraviolet (UV) light is present. Over time, exposure to UV light will cause artwork to fade, yellow, become brittle and deteriorate. The safest place for your art is in a completely dark place, but what fun is that? The use of a glazing material that blocks 99% of harmful UV light will allow you to enjoy your art while keeping it safe. Please keep in mind that UV filtering products do not offer 100% protection, so it is important to hang artwork away from direct sources of ultraviolet light – especially windows.
There is also the protection against breakage that acrylic and similar products provide. This is an important consideration, and oftentimes a requirement, for art in public spaces such as foyers, offices and restaurants. Do you plan to ship your art? Are you an artist displaying in a new gallery every few months? Occasional game of football in the house? Shatterproof acrylic or laminated glass may be for you.
Types of Glazing
•Conservation Clear Glass
•Reflection Control Conservation Glass
•UV Filtering Acrylic
The moulding or frame is basically an aesthetic choice, and there are literally thousands of styles and materials to choose from. If you’re looking for lavish, we’d love to show you some absolutely beautiful hand gilt closed corner frames. If you’re looking for sustainable products, we’ll show you PEFC certified frames from Larson-Juhl, or reclaimed mouldings from LaVille. Looking for something less expensive? Let us show you the clean lines of a very durable gesso or anodized aluminum frame.
Traditional frames are built by cutting moulding at a 45 degree angle and joining the miters mechanically (nails) and chemically (glue). We use hardened steel “v-nails” that are inserted from the back of the frame (thus remaining invisible), tiny “micro pin” nails for tall mouldings and wood glue. We also employ some unusual joining methods such as spline, pegged bridal and half lap joints.
Decades of experience with nearly every moulding supplier out there has given us an eye for quality and the ability to discern “inexpensive” from “cheap”. A frame can be inexpensive and have the integrity to last beautifully for years. A cheap frame is essentially a temporary frame. Examples of cheap frames: Formica frames – the finish WILL eventually delaminate; Moulding painted to look like wood – damages very easily…why not just get wood?; Polystyrene (plastic) frames – they break very easily especially at the corner joints; Swiss clips (frameless frame) – exposed glass against small metal springs = a probable disaster. Our “inexpensive” won’t cost much more that their “cheap”, and a comparison in a few years will reveal us to be the real value.