Picture framing is more than making an artwork, document or keepsake look good on your wall. With modern archival technology, it is easy to make things look good and be protected for generations. Contemporary materials and methods can preserve colors and prevent details from fading.

Archival and conservatory methods protect the item with acid-free materials, ultra-violet (UV) filtering glazing and mechanical designs. Harmful gases from acidic materials (from non-archival mat, frame, mounting and backing materials) can fog and yellow images, ironically trapped under glass. Corrugated cardboard and masking tape are the two most notorious villains of harmful picture framing. UV rays from the sun or fluorescent lighting can fade and damage the image.

Items placed in direct contact with the inside of the glass can be harmed several ways. Most often the picture or document gets wet by people incorrectly cleaning glass: never spray the glass directly, spray the cleaning cloth. Cleaning fluid can drip and flow under the glass before you can say, “Oh no!” When this happens with a photograph, the wet photo emulsion acts like a glue. Even the film manufacturer Kodak® can’t separate the photo from the glass. One of the functions of a ‘mat’, the ‘cardboard’ border around a picture in a frame, is to create a small amount of protective space between the item and the glass.

Ideally the design is about a presentation that enhances the framed item without attracting attention to the framing. Looking good in a specific style of interior is a consideration but the primary concern should be how the item and framing relate.

The frame sets the mode and character for the ‘look’. A single mat or perhaps multiple mat colors are selected that make a connection between the artwork and the frame.

Any items on paper should be behind glass. There are several types of glazing to choose from. All glass types are available in UV filtering versions. The darker an image, the more reflection can be created in the glass. Regular glass on a dark image can be mirror-like, obscuring the image with reflection. There are two types of glass that can diminish reflections and make viewing the image easier. ‘Reflection control’ glazing creates a soft reflection and ‘museum glass’ allows a very clear and vivid image. Museum glass darkens the reflection so that it is not as noticeable and allows a full spectrum of color to bounce back through the glass to the viewer making the glass appear invisible.

An informed picture framer can help you make wise choices of material to use, to properly protect your framed item and can guide you in your choice of design allowing you to express yourself through the picture framing process.

Contact Art Focus today for a free artwork preservation consultation! Preserving artwork is our specialty!

-Douglas E. Taylor, manager and master framer at Art Focus
Used by permission, 2014, 2017©