Most artworks benefit from being isolated from their surroundings, framing a picture will produce this effect and display the item as a separate entity. The frame will also provide protection against damage caused by dust, insects and fluctuations in temperature and humidity. All these factors can cause permanent damage to the original artwork, which in most cases is irreversible.
For items of financial and sentimental value, the use of conservation and museum mountboard can provides additional protection, whilst specialist UV glass will minimise the damage caused by daylight and fluorescent lighting.
All my work utilises conservation quality materials, in respect of mountboard and backing board. In this area of framing, all the processes are fully reversible unless the customer specifically requests otherwise.
A customer with a limited edition print or original artwork should consider having the item framed to conservation standard to protect their investment. Museum standard is used for framing items of high value and historical importance, which need to be preserved for future generations. In these areas of framing, all the processes are fully reversible unless the customer specifically requests otherwise.
The mountboard has two functions, firstly to distance the artwork from the glass and secondly to enhance the picture. Temperature and humidity fluctuations can cause problems, if the framed item is in direct contact with the glass. Photographs can stick to the surface if in direct contact, causing irreversible damage.
There are three main types of mountboard available, standard, conservation and museum, each having its own merits depending on the amount of protection you wish to afford your artwork. Over a period of time the combination of light and natural acids within the cheaper mountboard can cause irreversible damage, which may not be a problem if the artwork has no financial or sentimental value. This potential damage must be considered when framing. This effect is visible in the bevel of the mount, it will change colour and turn brown if it has a high-acid content.
A selection of the mountboard colours available
Standard or White Core
I do not use this mountboard in my work.
I only use conservation level mountboard or museum where required. The main type is Bainbridge Alphamount Artcare. Their patented molecular trap technology collects airborne acid gases, which are then neutralised by an alkaline buffer, this technology means they are the best for protecting your framed art. We use these boards for framing the majority of our work, there is a wide range of colours available, the surface colours will not fade and the bevels will stay white. For some frames I use Aqadia Conservation mountboard.
For framing to Museum standard, I use either Bainbridge Alpharag Artcare or Arqadia Rag boards. They are 100% cotton rag and give the highest protection. These boards only come in white and off-white and are solid colour with no white bevel.
We can cut a variety of mount styles. The amount of offset – the width of colour showing – on double and triple mounts can vary according to taste. Multi-aperture mounts are cut to your specifications. The maximum size of board we cut for multi-apertures is 81cm x 108cm, the size of the apertures and their layout being the governing factor in the number you can fit into this size board. A text-box can be included in a mount, incorporating text produced in-house or supplied by you.
When choosing a moulding it is important that it is suitable for the item being framed.
There are a number of elements that make up the ‘sandwich’ which sits in the moulding rebate. The trend towards the use of double and triple mounts, slip mounts and papered bevels add to the thickness of the sandwich and mean some mouldings are unsuitable.
Very large pictures may look great in a thinner moulding, but problems can occur with attaching hangers substantial enough to take the weight of the finished frame. Tapestries and other types of needlepoint ideally require a moulding, which will allow all the elements to fit safely into the rebate. With shallow but wider profiles, a box frame is used to provide the extra depth. If the depth is insufficient, the back of the frame will bulge, putting the backing board and frame under undue stress. Football shirts, 3-D objects and ‘floating pictures’ also require a deep rebated moulding or box frame.
I use wood mouldings for all my work. The Polycore or Emafyl extruded mouldings, were in the beginning used in the mass market manufacturing sector, some of these profiles have been adopted by some framers but I like using wood, despite the problems that go with it.
I use 2mm float glass to meet most of our framing needs, where the subject contains large dark areas, non-reflective glass should be considered.
In addition to float glass, there are speciality-glazing products available for filtering Ultra Violet, Reflection Control and Image enhancing. These products are expensive, but if you have invested in artwork you need to protect that investment. For museum framing, UV glass must be used. Ultra Violet light can be very damaging to artwork, for example, watercolours. It can cause fading and discolouration over a period of time, damage that is irreversible.
Valuable pictures should never be hung in direct sunlight and wherever possible the light levels should be kept to a minimum, the lighter the room in which the picture hangs, the faster the deterioration. Daylight is the most damaging, with fluorescent lighting also emitting a high amount of light in the UV range, tungsten lighting in comparison emits around 4% of its light in the UV range. Filtration UV glass screens out more than 90% of the harmful rays, which will slow the damaging effect and which when used in conjunction with careful lighting, will provide the most stable environment for the artwork. This type of glass is available in clear and reflection control.
Museum glass has a low reflectance optical coating plus a UV filter, this glass has good light transmission properties allowing the artwork to be viewed in lower light levels. Reflection Control glass is very finely etched on one side, it is ideal for controlling reflection in harsh lighting conditions. Image Enhancing Perfect Vue is a finely etched glass with a low reflectance coating; Denglass Waterwhite has a low reflectance optical coating and low-iron glass substrate resulting in zero colour shift. Waterwhite float is the same as Denglas but without the optical coating. All the above offer good light transmission.
I use Conservation quality ArtBak with a built in barrier paper.
I have moved away from MDF board as much as possible due to its properties, the dust generated when cutting is considered to be carcinogenic. This is not an issue with the finished frame as the backs are sealed.
The Artbak is easier to handle, has a moisture proof backing and off cuts are easily recyclable. It is a more expensive alternative to MDF and barrier paper, but preferable to work with.