What a difference a frame makes!
A great piece of art might be able to overcome an unattractive frame, but the right frame design can make even an inexpensive print look like a million bucks. And you know that is true when you see it.
Frame design encompasses a multitude of variables, including your tastes. The size, color, style, and textures of the frame package work together to enhance the look of your art and simultaneously reflect your unique personality. Much like choosing new clothes, a painting could be framed several different ways that would all work, but would they all appeal to you or fit your style? That's why we offer a wide range of options, and why we ask questions that will help us understand your needs.
Some of our questions will be about the nature and value of what you wish to frame. Is it an original work of art or a reproduction? Is it a one-of-a-kind item or can it be replaced easily and inexpensively? Does it have great monetary or personal value? Is it an heirloom that you will pass along to future generations or a decorative piece that you will replace in a year or two?
The various components of a framing package depend on what is being framed. A painting or print on canvas is treated differently than a work on paper or a textile.
Picture framing provides an attractive presentation for art and objects, but it serves another important function as well: protection. Framing can protect against damage from common environmental sources such as light, moisture, insects, and handling.
Conservation Framing (sometimes called preservation framing) is the practice of framing art and objects using the most protective methods and materials available. It begins with the materials that will touch the art. This includes the board that rests behind the art, the matboard that touches the front of the art, and the adhesive or other material that holds the artwork in place. All materials must be acid-free and stable, and the artwork should be able to be removed from the framing without tearing or staining the art.
In Conservation Framing, space is provided between the art and the glass, to allow room for air circulation. Without this space, changes in temperature and humidity can cause condensation of moisture inside the frame, leading to formation of mold, or even causing the art to stick to the glass (this is especially a problem with glossy photographs.) The necessary space is often provided by mats or spacers.
We will offer you Conservation Framing materials and techniques whenever you have something of value framed—whether the value is monetary or sentimental. Do not assume that Conservation Framing will be expensive; the cost is often not much more than ordinary framing, and the protection provided to your valuable artwork is a worthwhile investment for the future.
Mat boards come in three types: paper, archival and rag. Paper mats contain the same kind of acids and impurities that make newspapers quickly turn yellow and brittle. These acids will over time leach out and damage any paper or fabric they come in contact with. We do not carry or sell paper mats.
Archival mats are blends of paper and cotton fibers, but are chemically treated to remove all the harmful acids, lignin, and impurities. On the surface, paper mats and archival mats appear very similar, especially when new. Both consist of a color surface layer on a white core and backing paper. The way to tell the difference is to look at the edges. The core of a paper mat starts out white, but oxidizes to a beige color over a short time. An archival mat will stay bright white. The exception to this is archival mats made with color cores. Archival mats come in a huge array of colors and textures.
Rag mats, sometimes called "Museum" mats are made of 100% cotton fibers. These mats are the same material, and therefore the same color, all the way through. At one time, rag mats came only in white or cream, which is why that is all you saw in museum displays and high-end art galleries. While there are more color choices available today, the colors are more muted and limited than archival mats. Conservation framing will use only rag mats or archival mats.
The glass used in Conservation Framing can be an important part of the protection of the art, because excessive light can be damaging to many types of artwork. We offer Conservation and Museum glass that are made especially for framing. They provide protection from UV rays.
Because of the materials it is made of, all glass has a greenish tinge, most noticeable when you look at it on edge. Glass designed specifically for picture framing is clearer and usually thinner than window glass. The more refined the glass, the more clarity is possible. "Conservation" glass has an optical coating that filters out 99% of UV rays that cause pigments to fade, and paper and fabrics to deteriorate.
Conservation glass comes in three types: Premium Clear, Reflection Control, and Museum. Once framed, premium clear is virtually indistinguishable from non-UV-filtering glass. Reflection control, sometimes called non-glare, has a surface treatment that diffuses the light. While this minimizes reflections, it can also blur the image giving a soft-focus look. The further the art is spaced from the glass, the more this is noticeable. Museum glass is the premium glass, providing the greatest clarity and the least reflection available today.
Another option is "Acrylic Glazing", commonly referred to as plexi-glass. This material weighs less, will not shatter, and comes in larger size sheets than glass, which makes it ideal for very large framing projects, or where weight and safety are issues, or when the art must be shipped. The negatives are that acrylic glazing is more vulnerable to surface scratches, and it is more expensive than glass.
Decorative framing techniques are appropriate only for items that are not valuable and that can be easily replaced, such as a mass produced poster or a digital photo that you could reprint at any time. In general these techniques put the art at risk for damage and/or are not reversible. Using plain glass (without UV filtering) risks the art fading from light exposure. Placing art in direct contact with glass risks damage from trapped moisture. Changes in heat and humidity, even in our dry climate, can cause condensation inside the frame. Mold may grow, or the surface inks of the photo or print may adhere to the glass and not be removable. Drymounting—which is gluing the art to a backing board—is generally not reversible.
If something is worth framing, isn't it worth doing right?
Choosing high quality materials will ensure that you may enjoy your artwork for many years to come.