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 colours 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 ensuring 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 artboard, such as Tru Vue UltiMat and UltiBlack. Conservation quality artboard is free of all acids, lignins 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 a 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.
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 are committed to using high-quality conservation materials throughout your entire project.
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.
• 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 mat board 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!
Matting is the border that surrounds your art within the frame. It is more than just a pretty colour; 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 colour, 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 mat board 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 area 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 mould, mildew and fungi. Placing the material directly against the glass will result in buckles, wrinkles, mould formations and "sticking" to the glass.
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 ageing 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 framers 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 and the first place.
• 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 sun's 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 fibres, 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.