Frequently Asked Questions - Custom Framing
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Germotte Photo & Framing Studio - FAQ's
What is conservation framing?
As consumers, we bring our valuables in to be framed for a number of different reasons. Sometimes we frame an item to create an attractive decoration for our home. On the other hand, sometimes we frame the very things that we value most – whether that is commercial or sentimental value – in order to protect them from damage.
When the subject you are framing is something that you treasure, you need to ask for Conservation Framing:
What is Conservation Framing?
Put simply, conservation framing employs the use of materials that have been proven to protect and maintain art in as close to its original condition as possible.
When should I ask for Conservation Framing?
Value is, at best, a subjective thing. One way to measure it is in monetary terms; if the item you are framing represents an investment and has resale value, it should most certainly be conservation framed.
How can I be sure that I am getting Conservation Quality?
Let your framer know that you want conservation framing employed on your project. Specifically, request the following:
1. Specify Conservation Series Glass
Ultra-violet light is one of the most dangerous elements that your artwork can encounter. It will not only cause your colors to fade to a mere shadow of their former glory, but will cause the materials themselves to begin to break down right in the frame. Conservation quality picture framing glass is specially formulated to protect framed works of art from the damaging effects of ultra-violet light. By specifying Tru Vue Conservation Series glass, you are insuring that over 97% of these most damaging light rays are filtered out before ever coming into contact with your valuables.
2. Specify Conservation Quality Matboard
Ordinary pulp-based matboard contains acids and lignin’s which, over a period of time, damage the artwork they come in contact with. When going over your artboard options with your framer, ask him or her to show you only conservation quality art board, such as Tru Vue UltiMat and UltiBlack. Conservation quality artboard is free of all acids, lignin’s and other impurities found in ordinary "pulp" board. The result is an inert or pH neutral board which will cause no damage to the artwork it encases as time goes by.
3. Request a careful adherence to proper conservation techniques for mounting the artwork (sometimes called "hinging") and sealing your artwork
The framer you patronize should be fully versed in the specifics of conservation hinging. Be sure to impress upon him or her how much the piece means to you, and demand that proper conservation standards be upheld.
Specifying Conservation Framing is an important form of insurance for your valuable artwork, keeping it as lovely as it is today for enjoyment for years to come.
But even if a piece has value of a more personal nature, it can deserve conservation framing, A seldom recognized fact is that most pieces that we bring to a framer should be framed with conservation in mind. As a rule of thumb, if the item you are framing is an irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind photograph, document or piece of memorabilia, or if it is an original work of art or a limited edition, it should be framed using conservation techniques and materials. The cost premium for conservation framing is marginal – and certainly well worth it.
Where do I go to receive Conservation Framing?
The framer that gave you this information did so because she or he believes in and practices Conservation Framing. It is important that you entrust your valuable framing projects only to just such a trained professional who cares about the conservation process, has experience and the necessary skills and techniques, and who is committed to using high quality conservation materials throughout your entire project.
Scheduling your art for a "check up"
If my framer has used conservation quality materials, why would I ever need a check-up?
Conservation framing is important "insurance" for your art. Conservation quality materials are specially designed to protect your artwork from physical harm. Utilizing UV-filtering glass will actually protect your artwork from 97% of harmful ultraviolet light. Conservation quality matboard has been stripped of all harmful impurities, and buffered with calcium carbonate to prevent future changes in acidity. Despite these precautions, your artwork is subjected to attack every day from UV light, moisture and heat. There are no ordinary precautions you can take to eliminate these environmental elements. Yet their presence, if unchecked, can eventually damage your art. Regular check-ups can help you identify a problem in time to make a change.
How can heat and moisture affect my artwork?
Heat and moisture can work together to cause damage to your artwork. A combination of heat and a high relative humidity create a perfect environment for mold to grow inside your home. High temperatures in a dry environment can cause the paper to dry excessively and become brittle. Further, extreme and frequent changes in temperature and humidity will tax the strength of your paper-bourn art as it expands and contracts in response to these changes. While curators at museums spend a great deal of time and money attempting to control these environmental changes, such measures are usually impractical for the home. A simple measure that you can take to prevent this type of damage is to keep your artwork away from direct sources of heat and moisture. Central air and heating also help reduce the risks of extreme heat and moisture build-up in your frame.
A list of precautions for your art:
• Use UV-blocking conservation quality glass.
• Hang your artwork away from direct sunlight.
• Don’t light your artwork with fluorescent lights.
• Whenever possible, inquire about the paper that bears your artwork. For really valuable pieces where conservation grade paper is not already present, a conservator can treat the artwork itself to protect it from acidic harm. Ask your professional framer for a referral.
• Use conservation quality matboard that has an alkaline buffer against acidity.
• Bring your artwork in for periodic check-ups. Your professional framer can prescribe some preventative medicine to keep your artwork in good shape for years to come!
If my artwork features UV-blocking Conservation Glass, how can UV light cause damage to my art?
All light has an ultraviolet element Because the UV spectrum is stronger in sunlight and fluorescent light, where you display your artwork is one variable that you can control. Be careful to hang your artwork out of direct sunlight and fluorescent light.
Remember, conservation quality glass filters 97% of these harmful rays.
If I have specified acid-free, conservation quality matboard, how can acidity affect my artwork?
Paper, like any organic compound, is naturally acidic. Over time, acidity breaks down organic matter, causing it to discolour and become brittle. Most papers used by artists and high-quality lithoprinters today have had the acidity removed. Conservation quality matboard bas been similarly treated, and has been buffered with alkaline against future pH changes. When a framing project has been executed with conservation in mind, no element within the frame will cause harm to the artwork.
All glass is not created equal.
What are you really buying when you use the services of a custom framer?
Talent...yes, and the knowledge and ability to select the proper framing materials for your particular project. This means helping you choose the right colors, the right frame style, and most importantly, the right materials to protect your art, photo or memorabilia. There’s the matboard, the frame, backing board and mounting materials to consider. And of course, the glass. And glass is glass, right? Wrong. All glass is not created equal. In order to preserve, protect and get the most out of your artwork, you have some choices to make. And with a little knowledge, those choices will be very easy.
What determines the glass I should use?
Your custom framer should help you select the right glass for your project. Talk to him or her first about the value of your artwork. If the item you are framing is one-of-a-kind, rare, irreplaceable, of great monetary or sentimental value, or if the room you are hanging it in receives above average direct sunlight or fluorescent light, then your project should be framed with conservation glass.
What other glass choices do I have?
Perhaps you have a very bright room in which you will display your artwork, or you intend to hang the piece opposite a window or lamp. Anytime you think reflection may become a distraction from the enjoyment of your artwork, you may want to ask for Reflection Control glass. Many framers are conditioned against using reflection control glass. This is the result of poor quality glasses that have traditionally been available. These low-tech "non-glare" glasses have a highly frosted appearance because they are etched on both sides. The resulting fuzziness and distortion made for many dissatisfied framing customers, which soured framers on the idea of reflection control. An innovative new product has cleared up the matter for once and for all. Called Tru Vue Reflection Control glass, it employs etching on only one side, eliminating the reflection problem with only a subtle softening of clarity. (This "soft focus" actually enhances some images such as portrait photography and impressionist landscapes, where an atmospheric effect is desirable.) Reflection control glass is available with and without a protective UV coating...ask your framer to see a sheet of Reflection Control over your piece and judge it for yourself. Of course, some framed artwork almost demands a crisp, modern treatment. A premium clear glass should be used in such instances, when clarity and detail are essential to the enjoyment of the piece. Remember, whether you prefer a clear glass or a reflection control glass, whenever high levels of UV light will be present, the added precaution of conservation glass is strongly advised. The most important thing to remember when framing your artwork is to consult with your custom framer. The more he or she knows about your project the better they are able to use materials that will ensure your enjoyment for years to come.
What is Conservation Glass?
We’ve all heard about the dangers of ultraviolet light – particularly to organic materials. Exposure to UV light causes organic material to break down. This is visible in the form of fading colours and embrittlement and yellowing of the materials that bear the artwork. These effects, once started, are cumulative and irreversible. The best way to preserve your art is to protect it from exposure to UV light from the outset. For starters, don’t hang your art in direct sunlight or light it with fluorescent light. Ask your framer to use conservation quality glass, such as Tru Vue Conservation Clear or Tru Vue Conservation Reflection Control. Conservation series glass effectively blocks 97% of the dangerous UV light – protecting your artwork without affecting the visible light spectrum so your colours show true as nicely in a year as they do the first day you frame them.
A mat is more than just a pretty colour.
Matting is the border that surrounds your art within the frame. It is more than just a pretty color; the purpose of matting is both cosmetic and protective.
Certainly one of the reasons we use matboards to encase art is to bring out the colours in an image while drawing in the eye. There are many creative and elegant techniques that can be used which can add distinction to your framed piece.
The addition of matting can mean the difference between an insignificant piece that gets lost on a wall and a dramatic one that serves as a perfect accent for a room. Matboard, as a graphic element, can serve to highlight a color, accent a shape, or increase the overall size of the framed piece. Colour obviously plays an important role in this transformation process. For example, using a black matboard has the effect of "lightening" and "enlarging" the artwork, while using a white matboard serves to "darken" and "shrink" the image.
The main purpose of matting is to keep the cover glass from coming into contact with the framed subject matter. This also provides an areas where air can circulate. Differences in temperature between the outside and inside of the frame can cause moisture to condensate behind the glass. This moisture may damage the inks and colours and can serve as a breeding ground for mold, mildew and fungi. Placing the material directly against the glass will result in buckles, wrinkles, mold formations and "sticking" to the glass.
A WORD OF WARNING ABOUT MATBOARD
Using higher quality matboard – specifically, conservation quality matboard such as Tru Vue’s UltiMat~ or UltiBlack~ – is essential to protecting your artwork.
Matboard that is not rated as conservation quality contains elements that will damage your artwork over time. These "natural" substances include acids and lignins. Through the aging process, which is intensified by sunlight and heat, the matboard "burns" or discolours the art that it surrounds. Conservation matboard eliminates this concern because all lignins and acids have been removed. As an added benefit, UltiMat~ and UltiBlack feature an alkaline buffer to neutralize future shifts in acidity within the frame. Be sure to tell your framer how important your art is to you, by specifying the use of conservation quality matboard whenever you want to preserve the condition of the piece you are framing.
Careful selection of the matboards can result in a perfect complement to the picture within the frame. Visually, the matboards provide "breathing room" from any distractions on the surrounding wall. Providing your framer with enough information about the environment in which you plan to hang the framed piece will allow she or he to select matboards that will tie the artwork into your overall room setting or colour scheme. Your framer is armed with a number of creative techniques that employ colour, including – double and triple matting, embellishments such as accent lines, paints, gold leafing, using fabrics or special die cuts.
Think about the effect you want the framed artwork to create. Let the framer know if a subdued, elegant, or vibrant look is most appropriate for the room where the art will hang. The mats surrounding your image can be made bold or discreet, playful or ornate. This is all very nice, but not the most important reason we use a matboard an the first place.
Light and your artwork.
THE BLESSING AND DANGER OF LIGHT
Without light there would be no art, as light is what allows us to see and appreciate colour. It is one of the great ironies that the very thing that lets us enjoy color also works to destroy it. Have you ever seen a faded gum wrapper, lying in the sun, bleached to a mere fragment of its original colour? Perhaps the paper had become brittle as well – ready to break apart at the touch of a finger. The damage you saw was caused by the sun...specifically, the sun’s damaging UV, or ultraviolet, rays. Ultraviolet rays are the same villains that your doctor warns you about. They cause breakdown whenever they come in contact with organic materials, burning noses, bleaching gum wrappers and ruining your son’s first finger-painting. The damaging effects of UV light on artwork are cumulative and irreversible.
UV PROTECTION FOR YOUR ARTWORK
All this talk about invisible UV rays would seem to spell certain doom for artwork, but thankfully that is not the case. A recent development in glass technology by Tru Vue, Inc. has brought about a glass product known as Conservation Series~ which effectively blocks out 97% of all harmful UV rays. The cost premium for using conservation glass is marginal, and the benefits of its use cannot be ignored. The single most important step you can take to protect your framed artwork from harmful UV rays is to specify the use of conservation glass by Tru Vue. Tru Vue conservation glass is available in clear and in reflection control. Depending on the intensity of the light in the room where your art will be displayed, you may want to request Conservation Reflection Control. Reflection control glass deflects "hot spots" and glare, so the beauty of the art can show through.
PROPER LIGHTING TECHNIQUES
• Choose subdued lighting effects that will not reflect into the glass, especially when you are not using a reflection control product.
• Add a sense of atmosphere by using wall lights or sconces on either side of your framed piece.
• Add emphasis to framed pieces by adding individual picture lights – see your framer for details.
• Do not hang your valuable artwork in direct sunlight. Even with protective UV-blocking glass, prolonged exposure to the suns heat can destroy your art.
• Use incandescent bulbs to light your artwork. Incandescent lights have only 4% of their rays in the damaging UV range. (Fluorescent lights, on the other hand have a high concentration of UV rays and should not be used to light your artwork.)
• Illuminate your art at the lowest light level possible for enjoyment.
Unfortunately, the sun is not the only source of harmful UV light. ALL light sources, whether natural or artificial have some of their components in the ultraviolet range. The most dramatic visual effect of exposure to UV light is the dramatic fading of colours – especially those colours that contain red. Other effects include the yellowing and/or bleaching of paper fibers, sizing, dyes, brighteners and fillers. Some pigments may experience the opposite effect and actually darken to black when exposed to UV light, The materials that make up your artwork – the paper or fabric on which the image is displayed, may become brittle. Photos may appear yellow or stained with ghostly silver deposits rising to the surface. Once damage from ultraviolet light has occurred, it can never be reversed. That’s why it is important for you to understand what you can do to prevent this type of damage in the first place.
How to properly hang your artwork.
Now that you have your custom framed artwork in hand, it is time to hang it properly to maximize enjoyment for the longest time possible. Properly hung artwork combines concern for the safety of the artwork with the aesthetic concerns of lighting, and visual balance within the room.
Care should be taken to hang the piece in an area where it will not become damaged by heat, ultra-violet light or humidity. Hang your artwork out of the line of direct sunlight. In sunny environments, or in areas that are lit with fluorescent lighting, be sure to ask your framer to use conservation quality glass that will filter out most of the harmful UV rays. Never hang your valuable artwork over a heat source, or in an area that will be high in humidity (such as a steamy bathroom). Heat and humidity can cause serious damage to your art.
There are two basic lighting techniques available for your home: ambient "room" lighting or "spot" lighting. Domestic lighting is often preferable for the home, because it allows the work of art to blend in with the rest of the room. Spotlights, on the other hand, make a piece "pop" – a nice touch for really special pieces. Spot lighting can be dramatic (using can lighting or light strips that affix right to the wall or the frame itself) or subtle, (using room lamps strategically placed to give ample direct light to the piece). When using spotlights, be careful not to create shadows by using strong lights on a deep frame. Remember to keep your wiring as "invisible" as possible. The secret to attractive artwork display... Iocation, location, Iocation. Hang your artwork at the eye-level of the "average" person in the room. If you are hanging the art in a room where more time is spent seated then standing, "eye-level " should be lower, Hang smaIler, more detailed pieces in small spaces such as hallways and corridors, where impact is less important than content, and the art can be enjoyed up close and personal. Larger, "atmospheric" pieces require more room for the viewer to stand back and enjoy – hang these pieces opposite the entrance to a room or at the end of a corridor.
Unless you are striving for an eclectic "antique shop" look, groupings should look as though they belong together. Select frame styles that are compatible, and matting styles that will work well together and create a balanced, unified look to the group as a whole. Spacing is an important element in a grouping. Each picture should be placed not too far from, nor too close to its neighbor. The most common recommended way to create balance in a grouping is to lay the entire layout on the floor. This will allow you to get a sense of how the grouping will look on the wall, allow for adjustments and accurate measurements. Another tip is to align the tops or bottoms of the various pictures in the group. Below, you will find some popular grouping techniques that should get you started.
Take care to use the proper hanging hardware for your type of wall and that will bear the weight of the framed piece. Plaster walls and drywall require different types of hardware. (Artwork that falls off of the walls is not only a danger to itself, but to everyone that visits your home). If you are uncertain what type of hanging hardware you should be using, ask your framer for advise. Tell him or her what type of walls you will be hanging the piece on – most framers have an array of products designed for nearly any type of hanging situation. Use two hooks to hang anything larger than 8" x 10". When determining where to put the hooks, use a carpenters level to ensure that the picture will hang straight. This will help distribute the picture’s weight more evenly, and your picture will hang straight without constant vigilance.
It’s generally easier to hang an odd number of pieces, such as three or five, but an even number can be just as successful. Following are five common examples for simple displays that start from an imaginary point of reference.
Establish a Horizontal Axis.
This plan works best for three pieces of art or more. The horizontal axis runs from side to side through the center piece, at the midpoint. First hang the center piece where you want it, then hang the flanking pieces so that their midpoints line up along the horizontal axis.