Conservation Framing - De-coding the myths
04 April 2013
Multiple high-street framers often throw around buzz phrases like ‘conservation grade’ when describing their products and materials, fooling innocent shoppers into believing that they are purchasing the best possible protection for their artwork. Sadly, this is not always the case and what may pass for a ‘conservation frame’ on the high-street may actually be doing irreparable damage to your collection. Poor quality framing can cause fading, yellowing, embrittlement and overall deterioration of fine art over time, leading to the need for expensive restoration treatments later in life. The John Jones team are often required to restore and re-frame artworks which have been presented poorly in the past. Here are a few things to look out for which regularly appear in low quality frames masquerading as ‘conservation standard’:
Mount Boards – Many framers will claim that their mount boards are ‘archival’ and ‘acid-free’, however it is important to question what these boards are made from. Ordinary ‘pulp’ mount board contains lignin and various other impurities - only 100% pure cotton rag mount boards are completely inert. These boards come in a range of neutral tones – be wary of brightly coloured mount boards which have been treated with acidic paints and dyes as this can cause long-term damage to your artwork.
Hinging – If your artwork looks particularly flat within the frame, it is important to question why this is happening. High-street mounting adhesives involve binding, residue or marks, and most methods can cause permanent damage to the surface of the artwork. At John Jones we mount fine art using Japanese hinging (which has gained wide acceptance as a safe and reversible technique) using traditional Japanese tissue papers to attach the artwork into place.
Backboards – A frame backboard should be strong and sturdy to provide protection to the artwork from knocks and bumps. Many cheap, high-street backboards are produced from low quality MDF or cardboard which is weak and contains acidic materials. Always opt for a backboard produced from an inert, archival material.
Glazing – Many high-street framers will offer ‘UV protection’ in their glazing, however it is important to question what level this glazing works to. Only glazing with a 90% ultra violet light filter can be classed as conservation standard.
Hanging Solution – The majority of high street frames are fitted with D rings and wire to attach your artwork to the wall. This is not a ‘conservation grade’ hanging solution as it is not 100% secure and the artwork is in danger of tilting and slipping off. All of our frames are fitted with either strap hangers or split battens depending on the size of the artwork, both of which allow the frame to sit flush against the wall with a secure finish.