Techniques

Reasons for high quality picture framing

There are many ways how to display artworks on the walls of your home. Store bought affordable frames are a great way to have fun decorating your home with decorative pieces or creative decor that is not of considerable value and which you don’t plan on having on the wall for a long long time.

When you decide to invest into valuable piece of art, whether it would be an original painting or a limited print, we strongly recommend also investing into getting your new acquisition professionally framed in a conservation framing to preserve its value. Materials cheap store bought frames are made from, are most often of harmful non-conservation nature and thus will cause an irreversible damage to your valuable art.

Art of considerable value (financial, or emotional) requires a knowledgeable approach when it comes to framing. High quality picture framing is well worth investing into. That is why Dagaz Gallery has compiled a comprehensive guide for you. This guide takes you through all important reasons for and aspects of high quality picture framing. You are welcome to print this guide and take it with you when you take your art to be framed. For many people this can be an overwhelming experience to start with. Our guide is here to help you navigate through all the technical stuff and get the best treatment for your art & money.

In particular, we will discuss money, design, materials and conservation.

SAVES MONEY

This may be a surprising reason, considering custom picture framing is more expensive that just putting the artwork by yourself in a store bought frame. While this may seem a better or easier option at that time, overtime cheap frames work out to be more expensive because they don’t last and the damage they cause to artworks is permanent. High quality picture framing should last for decades and nothing in terms of damage should happen to your artwork. So, the cost of framing divided by years to be enjoyed could easily work out to be as little as few dollars per year. Cheap frames don’t last and will destroy anything precious you decide to display in them. Although they cost way less, they are a waste of your money.

Artworks on paper that require framing behind glass are by default more expensive to frame. On the other side, acrylic paintings don’t need glass and only require minimal conservation (dust cover from the back in form of paper or dense net to keep insects away) and a quality timber frame. Size does matter too. A particular frame design will make a difference in price too. Choice of glass as well. There are not price lists as it all depends. If you are not sure, just pop into framers for a chat about options and quotes.

CUSTOM STYLE

Custom picture framing allows you to pick the most amazing style for your art and to display art in a very unique and personal way. To achieve the best result, snap pictures of your living space, save style ideas found on Pinterest for inspiration (also show these to your framer), or be guided by the artwork itself, your picture framer, or interior designer. If you need to gain some confidence or you need to find you what style you like better than others it may be good to do some research prior to visiting a framing shop.  This part is a lot of fun, make sure you love the choice, participate in the design, go for it and enjoy!

PRESERVATION OF ARTWORK

While everything decays, slowing down the decay considerably with conservation picture framing will ensure the art you’ve purchased will be preserved and enjoyed for many generations to come. In comparison a non-conservation frame can literally destroy any artwork. In most cases there is no way of restoring them back to their glory.

The main thing to watch out for is the fact that professional framing doesn’t always mean archival. Some framers frame for display purposes to keep the cost down (mostly only for themselves) and because of this use non-conservation material (cheap matboard and mdf or plywood backing, ordinary glass…) so make sure to ask for conservation framing when you head over the picture framing shop to get your art framed up, or check on their website if they offer this particular service before you make the trip.

If you had something framed already and want to check whether it has been framed properly, there are indicators which can help you determine the quality of picture framing. We will attend to these in a separate post on our blog. Also keep reading, because what we are about to talk about some very important conservation must-dos!

MATBOARDS

This is where it all get a bit more technical, but for a good reason. This part is very important. Not knowing about this can quickly turn you into the enemy of your own art. Matboards should always be conservation grade. This means they should be buffered to maintain neutral PH and also not contain lignin (wood fibers). Wood is full of acid which will seep into and disintegrate your artwork overtime. Apart from alkaline nature of archival matboards also have molecular traps synthesized specifically for absorption of air pollution gases and degradative by-products of artwork and photographic media. Matboards of this grade are also bleed resistant and colour fade resistant. The best thing you can do is ask for rag matboard. If this option is too over budget for you, there is a more affordable conservation grade available which is not the same but still pretty good, ask you frames about the options.

Another important element to watch out for in proper high quality framing, is to make sure your artwork should be mounted (using acid free hinging tapes) not just with conservation matboard with the opening(window) around it but with a full matboard sheet supporting the artwork from the back. Artwork should never be mounted straight onto backing board (not even when acid free foam core is used).

GLASS

Another important aspect of archival framing is not only the use of proper glass, but also the fact that artwork should never be in direct contact with the glass. This is another purpose of using the matboard around the artwork – to keep it off the glass. If you decided to frame your art without any border there should always be a “spacer” that keeps artwork away from the glass (applies to everything that’s framed behind glass, including acrylic paintings,).

If the artwork touches the glass it cannot “breathe” properly which leads to mold, or portions of artwork sticking to the glass permanently which will cause them being torn off when the picture is taken out of the frame later. Proper glass for conservation picture framing means it has UV blocking ability. All light causes irreversible damage to works on paper. Natural light and fluorescent light sources are rich in ultra-violet radiation, the most active and damaging part of the spectrum. Sustained exposure to light can cause paper to become brown and brittle; pigments and inks can fade rapidly all of this can alter the appearance of a work beyond recognition. Special UV picture framing glass should be used for archival framing which will block out 99% of UV light. “Regular”picture framing glass blocks out between 40-60% of UV light, which is not bad either, or clarity glazing with about 70% UV filtering. There are many types of glass to frame with too. Therefore it is best to ask your framer about UV attributes of their glass options.