Framing for Future Generations

Commonly referred to as conservation, and sometimes as archival framing, the fundamental principle of conservation framing is that all the techniques and practices  employed, and materials used, are fully reversible and the framer’s work creates an environment where the original condition of the artwork does not change.  Poor framing practices can have a serious effect upon any type or manner of artwork, as time goes by.

Museum framing
Is that heady realm that most everyday people, living in everyday homes, owning everyday artwork, never encounter except in public museums or private exhibitions.  And in such environments, most are infinitely more concerned with the art, than the means and techniques used to frame it.  However, it is certain that it will have been framed using different materials, though certainly using the same techniques and practices, to a framed piece of art hanging in a High Street shop window.
It is probably fair to say that there are people in Northampton who own artwork which would comfortably hang in a museum, but it  is also fair to say that they would probably not visit my workshop to have it framed.   So whilst I, and most framers, am well capable of producing work to the highest museum standard for you, should you require it, possibly most picture framers do not encounter it on a regular basis.  Preservation, and even museum framing techniques, will vary depending on each piece of individual artwork being framed.  There are many different stages of protection for art, and what is suitable for one piece may not be right for the art of someone else. It is a major part of the framers function to advise on the best materials and procedures for his or her client’s particular artwork.

From a standard and a trade point of view, framing levels may be considered to be determined  by the Fine Art Trade Guild.
They stipulate the industry standard for :-
1. framing methods and
2. guidelines for preservation framing.

Basic framing
Used for non-valuable and easily replaceable art, mass produced prints and everyday framing. Nevertheless, still using good quality materials.
While basic framing is fine for conventionally sized prints of any description, including gigclé, advertising posters etc and family, sentimental or holiday photographs, it is advisable to seek advise  when an original, valuable, or collectable work is to be framed.
In such circumstances it is recommended that specified preservation materials are used.
For basic framing the glazing will preferably be 2mm float glass, depending upon the size of the artwork ~ above 30″ x 20″ it will be advisable to increase the glass thickness. It may be diffused reflection (non glare). These have a moderate UV filter level. The mount will be cut from whitecore or conservation mountboard, with an undermount and conservation backing board.  The artwork is either dry mounted, using a proprietary adhesive film board, or hinged to the mount with pH neutral water activated adhesive tape. The glazing, mount, and undermount are sealed with an appropriate tape to deter the ingress of household insect as much as possible.

Conservation framing
Glazing will have a high UV filter level.  The mount and undermount will be of conservation quality.  The artwork will be hinged to the undermount with paper hinges, designed to support the weight of the artwork, whilst not impacting upon it in a manner which makes the removal of the hinge irreversible. The backing will be a conservation board.
The glazing, the mount and the undermount will then be sealed with a barrier tape, to create a package as impervious to invasion of particle or insect as is possible.

Museum framing
The glazing will have a UV filter level of 99%.  Anything less will preclude it from the term ‘museum’. The mount will be 100% cotton museum quality mountboard, as will the undermount. The artwork will be hinged to the undermount using Japanese paper and wheat starch adhesive. The rebate of the frame,  and any slip used as part of the framing, will be sealed with tape: and the the glazing, mount and undermount will likewise be sealed to form the package.
The backing will be an archival grade material.

A small sample of framing sections available to choose from. There are many hundreds more which may be selected from a suppliers hard-copy catalogue or directly from the suppliers web pages.

It is possible to combine several moulding sections to form a much larger framing section, though care must be taken to achieve a visually pleasing result.  Alternatively, moulding sections can be produced from a whole variety of suitable natural timber species, and the exact moulding of your choice machined to provide you with a unique frame.

Costs are occasionally the restricting factor in such decisions.