All about Framing
WHAT IS ARCHIVAL FRAMING?
There are five levels of framing standards, the highest of which is described as “Museum” level. At this level the highest quality materials and methods are applied as would be expected to protect artwork for perpetuity. There are various levels below this which provide different levels of protection and cost accordingly.
The key elements of Archival framing are the use of archival acid free materials, UV glass, and ensuring the artwork is not in direct contact with the glass.
WHAT ARE ARCHIVAL MATERIALS?
Archival materials for framing are papers and boards that will not create an acidic environment around the artwork over time. Acidity, UV light and moisture are the three biggest enemies of framed artwork.
Traditionally archival materials for framing were made from 100% cotton fibre (“rag” or “cotton rag mat”) which unlike fibre from wood pulp does not contain lignin. Lignin gives trees their strength but it is not helpful when manufacturing paper and boards and contributes to increasing levels of acidity over time. However there are other substrates on the market that offer similar levels of protection.
WHAT IS A PASSE-PARTOUT?
A passe-partout is a sheet of card that is placed over the print to create a space between it and the image of a frame so that the artwork does not touch the glass. It elegantly highlights the print and gives it added depth.In 2003 the Fine Art Trade Guild launched its standards for mountboards, distinguishing between three different qualities, and using the terms Cotton Museum, Conservation and Standard.
Level 1: Museum - All Peterboro Museum matboards are made of the finest 100% cotton fibre and adhere to the Fine Art Trade Guild's stringent specifications for museum (100% Cotton) matboards. These boards are the best under normal conditions due to no acid content in the manufacturing process.- 100% cotton - Naturally acid & lignin free -Solid colour throughout buffered with Calcium Carbonate
Level 2: Conservation - Peterboro Conservation represents the finest value in conservation matboards.Some key facts about Peterboro Conservation boardsAs the main component of the conservation core, high quality virgin Alpha Cellulose is used. Alpha Cellulose can be distilled from cotton or wood. The higher the Alpha Cellulose content, the purer the board. Chemical Ingredients - The conservation quality of a mat can often be affected by the presence of impurities within its materials.
For instance the level of iron and copper within the matboard can result in tarnishing and discoloration of the mat. The sulphur content can raise acidic levels that attack both the mat and artwork. In the manufacture of PETERBORO CONSERVATION the level of chemical ingredients is strictly controlled. This is to ensure that they meet or exceed the PPFA and Fine Art Trade Guild standards for chemical composition.
Surface Paper - To reduce colour fade and bleed PETERBORO CONSERVATION uses pigments for surface paper coloration. Pigments are specified to meet or exceed the fade and bleed test requirements outlined by the Fine Art Trade Guild and PPFA standards. Independent testing shows that PETERBORO CONSERVATION exceeds these requirements.
Backing Paper - The backing paper is 100 % virgin fibre, buffered with calcium carbonate at a 3% minimum reserve, no optical brighteners, and a smooth finish with even coloration. The backing paper meets or exceeds the standards as set out by both the PPFA and the Fine Art Trade Guild.
Quality - Independent QC benchmarking shows that PETERBORO CONSERVATON has one of the highest standards of consistent quality on the market.
Level 3: White core - White Core is a high quality mat designed for framers who want the impact of a bright white bevel that will not discolour. However, they do not require the qualities or price of conservation matboard.What makes PETERBORO WHITE CORE different? It has a unique construction with each component buffered to a pH of 8.2 +/-0.5% and containing a minimum 3% reserve of calcium carbonate to provide years of stability.The Surface Paper - On over 85% of the Whitecore references we use the same Conservation grade surface paper found in our conservation line. The surface paper is buffered and lignin free. It has a high strength quality to minimize surface tearing during cutting.
Core - The core is pure white and has been buffered against acids to ensure bright white bevels and V grooves for years to come. The specially designed fibre morphology and density specifications mean Peterboro Whitecore cuts cleaner and results in smoother bevels.
Backing Paper - High quality conservation backing paper on all our white core. The tensile profile keeps the boards flat and resists tearing while cutting.
Quality - This line has one of the highest specifications on the market. The result is a superior mat that will stand the test of time, resisting the effects of acid degradation and remaining bright.
DO MY IMAGES NEED GLASS?
Any painting, print or photo on paper will suffer the effects of dust, dirt, moisture and light if not protected by glass or acrylic (Perspex).
WHAT TYPE OF GLASS SHOULD I USE?
There are quite a few options, but let's try and keep this as simple as possible.Clear Glass: commonly used in framing work that is not valuable or required to last indefinitely; or that is not prone to fade; or that can be easily replaced. Clear glass is the cheapest option.UV Glass: Protects the framed article from the damaging effects of UV light. UV not only fades pigments and dyes, but also ages paper, making it brittle.
Typical applications would be paintings on paper, especially delicate watercolours; limited edition prints; offset prints if required to last more than a few years.Acrylic (“Perspex”): Offers two key advantages over glass in being significantly lighter, which is useful for larger pieces, and less brittle, which is a significant safety feature. This method is also useful for works that are to be freighted or items that are frequently transported to shows and displays.
It is available with UV filtering characteristics although UV glass and museum glass offer higher levels of protection.Museum glass: A wonderful product, unfortunately not without a cost. Museum glass offers unsurpassed levels of clarity, virtually no reflection, and the highest levels of UV filtering. The most valuable art collections in the world's galleries today are protected by museum glass or similar products. It is so clear you may not have realised the Van Gogh you were looking at had glass at all.
WILL MY ARTWORK FADE?
In short, yes. Clearly a framed item exposed to direct sunlight in a bright room is more challenging than one hanging in the stairwell or hallway. Pretty much all inks, paint, pigments and dyes will deteriorate over time if exposed to daylight (specifically UV light).
Work that is of high value, collectible, or of high personal value should be protected with UV glass.Paintings: Oil paintings are generally quite resistant to fading. Watercolour paintings are typically quite delicate and prone to light damage. Acrylics are often a bit more stable although as with anything it depends on the quality of the paint and also how thickly it is applied.The lifespan of colour photos varies widely, but they are prone to fade after a few years.Prints: Giclée printing is high-end inkjet printing, using archival papers and fade resistant inks. The trouble comes when one can't be sure if the artwork is truly archival or simply printed on a standard large format graphics printer. Artists and publishers of quality products should include a certificate of authenticity or notes about the printing method.
Artwork or photos printed on household inkjet machines can fade within months.Offset printing is the high volume low cost commercial printing process used for books, magazines, advertising circulars and posters. While print quality can be very high, even specially formulated fade resistant inks are not as light resistant as they should be. Most printers don't use fade-resistant inks. Prints and posters produced this way should be treated with suspicion in regards to their resistance to discolouration. They should be framed accordingly if they intend to maintain their integrity in the long term. Of course people often take the view that "it's just a cheap poster." If it fades I'll get another…or I'll be bored with it by then anyway” which makes complete sense.
WHAT ARE “SPACERS \ BUILDUPS” AND DO I NEED THEM?
Most of the time, especially if the framed item has any monetary or personal value. They provide an air gap between the artwork and the glass. In turn, this reduces the risk of mould growth and the possibility of artwork adhering to the glass. This normally has negative effects on artwork.
The use of a mat board around the framed item provides a natural separation due to the thickness of the board itself (typically a little over 1.0mm; and sometimes more). Items framed without matboard should have spacers installed under the frame rebate (which are relatively invisible) to ensure this gap is established.
Costs can be reduced by eliminating spacers but should only be applied to works of low value that can be easily replaced and in budget framing situations.
CAN WE FLATTEN CREASED OR WAVY ARTWORK?
All paper has a life of its own. Heat and moisture both play a role in the physical form of paper. In humid environments, paper tends to form waves that are almost always irreversible. Paper that has been folded or roughly handled can have several creases, curves and indents across the surface.
Most of the time, it is advisable to allow the paper to breathe, but for display purposes, we are frequently asked to flatten the artwork. This can be done in two ways.Strapping: is our recommended option for items of any sentimental or financial value. It is an archival form of mounting whereby the paper is strapped via archival adhesive tape, from the back of the work, to a mounting board. This method is highly recommended in terms of preserving artwork value as well as the chance of successful reframing in years to come.
It is important to note that the paper will not be pulled perfectly flush against the board. It is essentially a traditional method of mounting and presents the artwork as it is.Pasting or mounting with adhesive film: For purposes that you may want your creased or wavy artwork to be flattened. This process does carry risk. As your paper expands and contracts when folded, it has essentially lost its original form. In this case, pasting and mounting the film are irreversible since they are permanent. This process requires full adhesion of the paper to the mounting substrate which cannot be removed. Ultimately, it is your decision but you need to be aware of the risks involved in flattening a creased or wavy artwork. Our consultants will be able to advise on the appropriate solution upon viewing the artwork.
WHAT IS STRAPPING?
Small pieces of double-sided archival tape are placed in even spaces around the edges of the artwork in order to keep it in place. In order to strap artwork to a backing board, one has to carefully pull the adhesive tape around the back of the board.
Once it has been tightened, it must be adhered. As a result of this technique, artwork will never be able to be completely flat. This is because it allows for organic movement as it responds to temperature fluctuations as it responds to changes in temperature. Depending on the backing board used, this can be either archival or non-archival.
WHAT IS HINGING?
Small segments of archival tape adhere the artwork to the back of a window mount board. A backing board is then adhered to the back, along one edge, allowing the window mount to swing open for easy removal of the artwork. This method can be archival or non-archival depending on the backing/mount board used. As a result of this technique, artwork will never be able to be completely flat. This is because it allows for organic movement as it responds to temperature fluctuations as it responds to changes in temperature.
WHAT ARE THOSE BROWN MARKS ON MY OLD PRINT OR PAINTING?
More often than not it is due to acidity and is known as foxing. Typically it is caused by the materials surrounding the print in the frame; with pasteboard backings being the most common offender; although old-school mat boards can contribute too.
Generally, removing artwork from this acidic environment will stop deterioration, but the marks will not disappear. If the artwork is actually glued to the backing board then we have a problem as separating them can be difficult and expensive.
It was not uncommon for this to occur 30 or 40 years ago and the legacy is easy to see. Reframing with Archival materials will prevent recurrence. Occasionally, the print or painting is acidic due to its substrate. Cheap papers are often favoured by budget-conscious artists. Sometimes, it is not possible to resolve the issue, and one can end up spending a lot of money trying.
WHY IS THE PAPER DISCOLOURING?
It may be due to acid damage - see Foxing above (Q: What are those brown marks on my old print or painting?). However paper is also susceptible to yellowing from exposure to daylight. The speed of deterioration will depend on where the work is hung and the quality of the paper stock.
For example, newsprint, as we all know, turns yellow in a matter of hours if you leave your daily newspaper outside in the sun. Over time deterioration leads to the paper becoming brittle. Using UV glass which filters out the harmful UV spectrum of light provides the highest protection.
SHOULD MY ARTWORK BE ADHEARD TO A BOARD?
Attaching a work to a board provides a cost effective framing solution and ensures the work stays flat over a long period of time but it is not an acceptable practice for Archival or Conservation framing.Gluing may allow framing without a matboard which further helps to keep costs down; and can often resolve those annoying creases that posters and prints seem to pick up so easily.
There are risks in the mounting process too, including human error, and these are generally impossible to resolve if things go wrong. When a work is mounted this way, it should be considered permanent because the work is transformed forever. The quality of the board to which it is adhered now becomes an inherent part of the equation as to how long it lasts. Also if the work becomes valuable or collectible over time, being glued will decrease its value.
The general rule is that glued-down artworks(such as photos, posters, open-edition prints) and items that are not valuable or collectible can be easily replaced.Items we would not recommend gluing down would be any original art (although you might make exceptions for children's work and inexpensive paintings from tourist destinations if cost is a factor), limited edition prints, needlework, rare and collectible posters and open-edition prints (especially if signed by the artist / band / team / celebrity / famous person). The compromise is between protecting the item for posterity and keeping it perfectly flat.
Work on paper that is not glued to a board will be hinged with archival tape; and will expand and contract according to environmental conditions which can create waves and wrinkles. This is part of the organic nature of works on paper and the technique is applied by galleries and museums.
WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO CLEAN THE GLASS ON MY FRAME?
Check the type of glass you have. When framed by us, this will be indicated on the back of the frame if it is anything other than Standard Clear Glass.No matter what your glass is, do not spray cleaning products directly onto the glass.
This is because the cleaning solution may seep through the edges and damage the mat, frame or artwork. Instead spray a soft cloth or paper towel with your cleaning solution before applying it.
The most gentle way to clean the frame is with a clean microfiber cloth. Keeping the more delicate glass types free of other gunk will prevent scratches.For Standard Clear Glass or UV Glass, domestic glass cleaners are fine. They will permanently damage Museum Glass or UV70 (the non reflective clarity glass options) as well as perspex, both the clear and UV versions.
A damp cloth with a spot of methylated spirits is also effective.The most effective way to clean acrylic ("Plexiglass" or "Perspex") is to use acrylic cleaner or a small amount of mild detergent mixed with water and a soft, non-abrasive cloth.For Museum Glass or UV70, warm water with a clean microfibre cloth, or Isopropanol on a cotton bud for spot cleaning.If at all unsure, bring the frame to us and we can do it for you, or give us a call with any questions you have.
WHAT DOES ACID-FREE MEAN?
This is a term that can be quite misleading with many framing materials claiming to be acid free. Most papers and boards are acid free when they are manufactured; or fairly close to pH neutral. However the nature of the raw materials and manufacturing process will determine how long they stay this way. Some products are “buffered”, that is to say they have additives to combat acidity as it develops over time. A distinction should be made between materials which are acid free at the time of manufacture; and truly Archival materials which maintain their neutrality for the long haul.
WHAT IS INKJET PRINTING AND DOES IT FADE?
Inkjet is a widely used, flexible, and inexpensive technology. The key issue to be aware of is light stability. High-end inkjet printers use pigment-based stable inks and the printed result is often called a Giclee print.This printing method has largely replaced offset printing for fine-art reproduction as it is more light stable,has a superior colour range (“gamut”), is more flexible with sizes, and gives better results on a wider range of substrates. This is very significant for artists and publishers as they can print according to demand and come back for more if they sell out (“print on demand”). At the other end of the spectrum, photos printed on home-user inkjet printers are often very attractive prints but will not last if exposed to light. Of course they are cheap and easy to reprint!
IS THERE A RECOMMENDED WAY TO HANDLE THE FRAMED WORK IN TRANSIT BEFORE IT IS HUNG?
Yes - keeping it clear of hard objects prevents damage to the frame from knocks. Leave it in the bubble wrap we packed it in until ready to hang.Transport frames back-to-back or face-to-face in the car so the hanging hardware doesn't damage the frame adjacent.When carrying your work, grab it by the sides with one hand on each side of the frame (two people with large pieces).Don't lift it by the top edge especially on thinner frames as they can bow under the weight and all sorts of problems can result. Don't rest it on the corners in order to rotate it (especially with large works). Try to avoid touching the glazing (glass) as fingerprints can be difficult to remove.
WHAT'S THE BEST METHOD FOR HANGING MY FRAME ON THE WALL?
The basic steps are below. A commercial space, however, needs to take special precautions for the safety and security of large and heavy pieces and works. Talk to our staff or give us a call if you need assistance.
Working with another person allows you both to see how the work looks on the wall before hanging; each taking a turn at holding it in place. Generally eye level is about the right height but lighting, placement of furniture and so on can influence this. Also if you have lots of things to hang you may end up stacking things on the wall.
Make a small pencil mark on the wall at the top centre of the frame or use a piece of masking tape that doesn't leave a mark. If the position needs to be very accurate, use a tape measure to get the exact midpoint.
Put the picture face down on a flat, soft surface. Measure the distance from the top of the frame to the hanging wire when taut. If your frame has been supplied with D-rings or square hanging brackets, measure the distance from the centre or point of the hanging system.
Measure the same distance down from the mark you made on the wall. When you make this measurement, keep the line as vertical as possible. If your picture requires a single hook now you know where it will sit. If more than one hook is required, proceed as follows.Measure the distance that your wall hooks should be apart (position the hooks about 25% of the width of the frame in from the edge of the frame). Once you know the distance your fixing implements should be apart divide this by 2. Now measure this distance to the left and then to the right of the mark you just made. Use a spirit level to make sure your fixing implements are level.
If you are using nails, hammer these into the correct position, or drill a hole and screw in the screw(s) and associated wall hooks.
Carefully position the artwork on the hooks.
You can paint out the pencil marks however they often scrub off with a damp, coarse cloth or paper towel or a clean pencil eraser.
WHAT ARE WOOD BORER BEATLES?
The term woodboring beetle encompasses many species and families of beetles whose larval or adult forms eat and destroy wood. Most backyards or wooded areas in South Africa are inhabited by the wood borer. Borers eat dead, dry wood, so furniture, sculptures, flooring, and frames are all at risk.
WHAT IF I FIND WOOD BORER IN MY FRAME
Place your frame in a sealed plastic bag and send it to us for reassessment and a quote on replacement of the frame moulding. Keep in mind that all other elements can safely be upcycled into your newly created frame.Our framing suppliers fumigate all wood products before they reach their warehouses. Fumigation is done with gas in sealed containment areas.The wood borer is airborne, so it's easy for them to invade any area.
They tend to leave most chemically treated items alone but the downside of this is that they will target untreated items.Art Of Print does not carry the responsibility of replacement, after 5 months from the date of purchase, should you find a wood borer beetle within your frame. However, we will do our part to assist you with the refitting of your artwork into its replacement frame at a determined rate.
All about Printing
WHAT TYPYE OF MACHINE DO WE PRINT ON?
Art of Print uses Canon printers of the latest generation. These machines are the pinnacle of photographic and fine art printing. The imagePROGRAF series delivers unsurpassed quality in every aspect. With a stunning 12-colour ink system, rapid print speeds and flawless consistency.
HOW DO I CHOOSE THE RIGHT PAPER TYPE FOR PRINTING MY ART?
Giclée prints are most effective for highly detailed artwork reproduction, and they also have the benefit of very consistent colour reproduction. At Art of Print we offer 6 Giclée art papers, 2 Photographic papers and 2 Canvas options. Giclée art prints are used by photographers, illustrators, painters, designers, typographers…and visual artists of all kinds. The colours are punchy, the paper textures range from textured and fibrous, to smooth and matte,to glossy with a range of base colours from neutral bright white to warm-toned off white. Whatever print options you choose, you can find a paper that not only complements your subject matter but that adds style and feel to your work.
HOW LONG WILL MY ART LAST?
There are five key factors to take into consideration to help determine the longevity of your photographic prints.
When considering the image stability of a photographic or Giclée print it is the environment and the storage conditions of the artwork that primarily dictate its longevity. Paper is sensitive to its surroundings and can be affected by changes in temperature, humidity, and exposure to bright light and contaminants in the air. The five main factors The five main factors, which ultimately dictate how long your print will last, are as follows:
- Exposure to high heat sources
- Exposure to bright light sources
- Exposure to moisture through humidity
- Atmospheric pollutants
- Storage conditions
- Giclée Archival Life Expectancy
- Average daylight conditions - 80 years
- Dark storage in an archival box - 200 years
HOW DO I PROLONG THE LIFE-SPAN OF MY ART?
The main concerns when storing artwork are light, heat, and atmospheric pollutants, but there are also more subtle factors to consider. These include adhesives that induce degradation over time and sulphur compounds produced by materials like rubber and wood that can cause fading and instability. Images that are unframed, ensure your prints are stored in archival materials including archival acetate sleeves and are placed inside archival storage boxes made from acid free conservation board. Once the print is stored using archival materials it is ideal to find a suitable place away from fluctuating temperatures and potentially high humidity conditions.
The most effective way to conserve artwork for display purposes is to use conservation framing. Placing artwork behind glass protects it from the surrounding environment. When mounting for framing it is ideal to use 100% cotton fibre, acid-free unbuffered mount boards. UV-protected glass also reduces the impact of exposure to bright light sources. At Art of Print we have a wide range of conservation framing options to ensure your artwork stands the test of time.
SHOULD I CALIBRATE MY SCREEN?
Yes, in order to get the most out of your monitor screen, make sure it is adjusted properly prior to editing artwork and printing. A correctly calibrated monitor is an essential tool for producing colour accurate prints.Your monitor should be calibrated to a standard neutral point, which is the open standard across the photographic and imaging industry. This means that it can show you how your images will look when printed or viewed on other monitors. In order to calibrate your monitor, you will require a device called a spectrophotometer, such as an Xrite or spyder screen calibrator. Your screen's colour accuracy can be measured with these devices.
WHAT DOES SOFTPROOFING MEAN?
On screen, soft-proofing means previewing how your image will look when printed on a specific paper. Print previewing or soft proofing uses print profiles, which can be downloaded from our website, and can be installed in Adobe Photoshop. There are different profiles for each paper combination we offer at Art of Print.
WHAT COLOUR SPACE SHOULD I WORK IN?
We recommend using RGB colour space such as sRGB or Adobe RGB 98.
WHAT FILE FORMATS CAN I UPLOAD?
You can upload the following file formats - JPG, TIFF and PDF Uploading RAW files is not supported. These are, as the name suggests, still raw files that need to be processed with software. Please save your files as either TIFF or JPG.
WHAT IS THE BEST DPI FOR PRINTING?
For the highest quality photo prints, we generally recommend 300 DPI. However, most images will still look acceptable and avoid pixelation at 150 DPI or above. Simply put: Don't blow up photos to more than twice their original size at full quality. Anything below 150 DPI, and we will warn you that you're uploading a low-resolution image.
HOW LARGE CAN MY FILE PRINT?
It's a tricky question because there's no single exact answer. There's actually a lot of leeway in any given image depending on several factors. These factors include what your tolerance is for flaws, how much money you are willing to invest in the print, and how the image will be displayed.
The first step is to determine the resolution of your image by looking at the pixel dimensions of your original file, or a file that has been manipulated with non-destructive editing (meaning you haven't cropped it or changed it in any way that will affect the quality of the image). We automatically check this after upload,so that you are only shown formats that will work with your image file. It also depends on the viewing distance to the picture on the wall. As a general rule, the viewing distance is twice the diagonal measurement.
The further viewers will generally stand from the picture, the larger it should be. Conversely, if the picture is intended to hang in a narrow hallway, you should not make it too large.This is because the viewer will not be able to step back and take it all in.
In a small hallway, it would make more sense to have multiple smaller pictures. For pictures above the sofa, however, you should not pick too small a size, since the viewer will always be at a distance. For this a picture can easily be 100 cm or more.