A frame and all its component parts should enhance and protect the artwork or object that they contain. Some products and techniques not only fail to protect an artwork they actively damage it. At Ed Watts Framing we use only tried and tested conservation methods which will keep your artwork at its best for many, many years to come. Most works of art come in the form of paper of one sort or another and how we frame that will decide whether it lasts over many generations or be irreparably damaged over a few short years. Many factors need to be considered during the framing process. Temperature, humidity, damp, prevention of movement and light exposure will all adversely affect an artwork as can exposure to materials containing even the smallest amount of acid.
Below are just some of the conservation methods/products that we use along with some examples of bad practice!
Mount board comes in a variety of conservation levels. Because the mount is in contact with the artwork it is important to choose the appropriate level of protection.
Museum Quality This would be used for expensive works of art that require a high level of protection but is an expensive option.
Used on any original artwork to give a high level of protection, it must meet stringent criteria for, among other things, light fastness and Ph ranges and be credited by the Fine Art Trade Guild (FATG).
Low cost board
I steer clear of this even for low value items because of the inconsistency of the finish but the big reason to avoid low cost board is because it is made from un-purified wood pulp which will gradually break down and release acidity which will obviously damage the picture.
This is what the artwork is attached to the mount with. Many people bring items for re-framing and when I take the old frame apart I often see the artwork stuck to the mount with sellotape or masking tape. This has no place in conservation framing! Firstly it will permanently damage the artwork and secondly if it is taped all the way around it will restrict movement and further damage it. Hinges should be easily reversible with water and neither discolour or stain the artwork.
Artworks need to be mounted away from the glass in a frame but I'm often asked to frame an item directly up to the glass. This is probably the single worst thing you could do to an artwork. I could (and others have!) write an essay on why it's so calamitous but the short answer has to do with humidity, changes in temperature and circulation. Other considerations are exposure to light and reflections. There are many different types of glass giving UV protection and/or reflection control and as with mountboard the better the protection, the higher the cost!