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Tips from our Conservator - Blog, Care 4 Art: Frame essentials for work on paper

Tips from our Conservator - Blog, Care 4 Art: Frame essentials for work on paper

Caring 4 Art - New frame essentials (for works of art on paper)


Posted on October 20, 2016 by Craig Horsfall

Whether you want to display a family keepsake, enjoy a once in a lifetime purchase of an artwork by a favourite artist, or buy art regularly as an investment, you’ll need the frame to offer protection rather than be the cause of damage itself. So what do you need to ask the framer or gallery supplying the frame?

Does the glazing act as a filter for ultraviolet light?
There is barely any cost difference between bog standard and UV-filtering glazing. Cutting out UV is the first step in guarding against fading, and to supply glazing that doesn’t offer some degree of UV-filtration is just a failure of duty.

Is the mount board acid-free and lignin–free?
Mount boards should be 100% cotton or alpha-cellulose fibre throughout (both the core and any covering papers). Anything containing unpurified wood fibres that still contain lignin will give off acid gases that will damage the artwork.

Would buffered or non-buffered mount board be best for my artwork?
Your framer or gallery should be able to advise whether your artwork would be best protected by slightly alkaline mountboard that can counteract polluting acids, or if more neutral conditions would be safer.

How will my artwork be held in place?
Make sure that sticky tapes won’t be used to hold the artwork in the mount. Better options are photo-corners, or thin but strong Japanese paper hinges glued using cooked wheat starch paste. If gummed-tape is going to be used, make sure it is acid-free and doesn’t contain fluorescent brighteners.

What does the frame backboard offer n regards to puncture protection, splash resistance and chemical stability?
These are the qualities to look for in a backboard. Avoid plywood and hardboards because all wood products give off too many acids, and avoid foamboard too because this offers too little puncture protection.

How do I hang the frame safely?
Artworks are damaged by falling frames more often than you’d expect. Ask for advice before hanging it up, and always before making any changes to the hangers or wires on the back.

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If you would like to make an appointment with our Conservation team, please contact: 
Art Conservator
John Jones
T 020 7561 8196
conservation@johnjones.co.uk