Bespoke framing is something that is done for many different reasons, which I highlight below, and which we come across when important and valuable items are not framed to the standards that perhaps they should be. As a member of the Fine Art Trade Guild, I work to the Commended Level and above. This ensures that we provide work to a consistent standard and also that where work is of high sentimental or commercial value, everything possible is done to ensure the item is around in years to come in the condition it should be.
Some things to look out for when getting any item framed:
Never use masking, packing or any other household tape for fixing artwork or sealing a frame. These contain lots of chemicals that will damage the item over time.
Never attach the item direct to the mount. It should always be properly attached to the undercount behind the item to ensure minimise damage to the item, and to enable it to be safely removed in the future if required.
Never place glass directly against the item, doing so will prevent air circulating which is required to protect the artwork over the years. You will find that if you place the glass directly on the item, it will end up sticking to the piece or artwork and will be extremely difficult to remove, it also reduce air circulation and can cause mould to form.
If you have items of sentimental or commercial value, you should ask your local picture framer to check them at least every five years. This can help identify any issues and get them sorted before it is too late.
Ensure that the back of the frame is properly sealed. This stops dust and insects from getting inside and eventually leading to damage to the item. As a side note, you should ensure that when hung, felt bumpers have been used on the back at the bottom of the frame, this will enable air to circulate and stop your walls being marked.
Why has my picture faded so badly?
Historically almost all frames were made with standard float glass (This is what is in all low cost frames you can get from high street retailers). Whilst this glass is low cost and easy to replace if damaged, it does provide some issues when it comes to preserving the colour of items we frame.
Ideally we should keep artwork, pictures and items of importance out of direct sun light. This is due to the fading effects UV light has on these items. Over time items behind normal float glass will lose their colour, due to the damage UVB rays do to the items. Recent innovation has seen UV glass become available, this is available in several different options (70%, 92% and 99% protection). The different levels help limit the damage that UVB rays do it items in the frames. Clearly the 99% level will offer the best protection, and this is the glass used in museums to help protect artwork. We are able to offer all levels of protection and we highly recommend using at least 70% protection on any important items you wish to frame.
In addition there is now anti reflection glass that is available, this is an amazing product that provides an invisible appearance and really enhances the items on display. This AR glass also comes in options with UV protection as well. AR99 glass not only offers the best protection against UVB rays, but also ensures that the items on display look like they have no glass in front of them.
Why have the edges of the mounts changed colour, and what is the brown marks appearing on the edge of the artwork?
Many older prints and photographs were framed behind mounts that over time have caused acid to leach from the material. This acid is what causes the brown edges on mounts and also can lead to staining of the items framed. There are now standards in place for the manufacture of mount boards, this enables items being framed to be done to conservation level stopping the edges going brown and preventing damage to the items being framed. Below are some images where old mount board has been used, or where the materials (masking tape) used to support the item have contributed to damage.
In addition to the mount board materials, care must be taken with the materials used to support the item to ensure that there is no risk of damage over the year. Again there are standards that picture framers must follow if they are to offer conservation and museum level framing. If you want to find out more on the five levels of framing determined by the Fine Art Trade Guild then click here.