RedBlueGreen SmallMediumLarge WideNarrowFluid
You are here:Hampton Photo Arts arrow Framing Information arrow Archival Framing
Archival Framing
Hamptons Photo, Art and Framing Archival Picture FramingThe Process of Archival Matting and Framing

Framing for archival preservation means that we are framing with the objective of getting the artwork out of the frame at some future date and having it be, at that time, in exactly the same condition it was in the day we went to frame it. Therefore, in our framing of the piece we must do nothing that will alter or devalue it in any way - we must not use adhesives that cannot be removed and we must not use any material that can damage, fade or stain the artwork. Acid and lignin bearing materials (in other words, any materials made of wood pulp) are a threat to the artwork. Even lignin bearing materials that have been acid neutralized are unacceptable in a truly archival frame job.

Wood pulp content materials that are acid neutralized have been put through a bath of calcium carbonate which adds alkalines and balances the pH, rendering the acid content harmless. Many items that claim to be Hamptons Photo, Art and Framingacid free are in fact only acid neutralized, trading on the notion that acid rendered harmless for a long stretch of time (pehaps as much as a hundred years) is essentially the same thing as something that is truly free of acid. The scrupulous might question that. So for our purposes, we will use only acid free and lignin free materials to achieve a true archival frame job.

The Right Materials

We will begin our project by purchasing five sheets of Crescent’s Classic Museum Rag 100 matboard. This board has a core and face paper that is 100% acid free and lignin free cotton, unlike standard Rag matboard which although it has a cotton core still uses acid neutralized wood pulp face papers. (Note: all Crescent's Rag and Acid Free matboards can be ordered via phone from Hampton Photo Arts - call us at 631 537-7373). Our Classic Museum 100 will act as both our mat and backing board because the foamboard we would normally use as a backing board does in fact contain a little acid in its core, and we want to avoid acid wherever possible.

In direct sunlight and high humidity, over time, acid can seep out of the material it’s in and into whatever material it’s in contact with. At the point of contact, where this seepage is occuring, a brown shadowy effect called "acid burn" occurs. Acid burn is a permanent stain that cannot be removed. Moreover, it’s a sign that acid has entered the stained material and will eventually destroy it. This is precisely the kind of devaluation and alteration we are trying to avoid with archival framing.

It’s worth noting, however, that the degree of archival framing we are outlining here is not necessary for every frame job. This is the height of archival framing, as practiced in museums for the highest quality, most expensive art. Standard conservation framing is far less costly and strives simply to keep acid bearing materials out of direct contact with the artwork. Even regular, so called "non-archival" framing provides a decent level of protection against acid contamination by incorporating long lasting acid neutralized materials. But the objective of this article is to demonstrate the most thorough approach. In any case, conservation and archival framing should be reserved for art that is itself acid and lignin free. To ascertain whether artwork is worthy of conservation or archival treatment, use a pH testing pen.

The mounting tapes we will use to attach the artwork to the backing for top shelf museum quality archival framing will not be the standard archival quality tapes used in a regular conservation frame job but acid free, lignin free Japanese paper strips attached with an adhesive made of rice starch and applied to the strips with a paint brush. The ingredients for this type of mounting can be found in a local art material store like Hampton Photo Arts in Bridgehampton.

Preparing the Mount

When you think archival framing, you must think especially hard about how you will mount. You absolutely cannot use a permanent mounting method or any method that involves putting adhesive all over the back of the artwork. Instead, you will use the Japanese paper strips and rice starch paste described above and you will incorporate them into a mounting technique called the S-hinge.

The S-hinge is recommended because it can be used for a floated presentation in which the edges of the paper are displayed, as well as for a presentation in which the edges of the paper are covered by the mat.

Begin buy cutting to size two sheets of Classic Museum 100 Board. One will serve as the backing board. The other will serve as the matboard. After sizing the boards, bevel cut the window in the piece you will use as your matboard. Next, trim the edges of the piece you will use as your backing board. Trim 1/8" from each edge. An S-hinge involves cutting two or three slits in the backing board. Begin by marking out the area of the backing board that the artwork will cover. Mark this out on the back of the board. You can now visualize the portion of the backing board that will be covered by the artwork in the final presentation. You will want to cut the slits within this area so you can be sure the slits will be concealed behind the artwork in the final presentation. Measure down one to two inches within the safe area and cut slits roughly 1¼" long by 1/8" high. Try to minimize the number of slits you cut. Two slits should be sufficient for most artwork. Larger pieces may require three or four.

To make your archival tape, open your Museum Mounting Kit and take out the Japanese paper. This paper is made of cellulose fibers from a variety of plants found in Japan. You will find it folded into a rectangle like a hanky. Unfold it and cut or tear strips four inches long by one inch wide.

Mounting the Artwork

Take out the bottle of rice starch mix it with distilled water as directed. Cook it in a microwave and stir it until it becomes a paste. Then using a brush, apply the paste to the back of each strip. Feed the strips through the slits so that the sides with the paste on them are facing outward as they hang down the face of the backing board. Attach the strips to the rear of the backing board in the area above the slits. Lay the backing board down so that it is face up. Place the mat with the window in it over the backing board. The slits with the tape hanging out of them will appear high up in the window of the mat. Position the artwork in the window of the mat and press it down against the strips of tape.

Preparing the Frame 

Wood based products contain lignin and as such are a threat to your artwork. Since your frame is made of wood, it too threatens your artwork, although in a presentation that includes a mat, the frame is not in contact with the artwork and is far removed from it. Nevertheless, the fact that acid can migrate from one component to the another given enough time means that extra precautions must be taken to prevent damage to the artwork from acids that exist in the wood of the frame.

Cut strips of Classic Museum 100 to panel the insides of the frame recess. Then attach the strips to the insides of the recess using acid-free adhesive transfer tape.

Use your remaining sheets of Classic Museum 100 as filler board to go behind the backing board and fill the frame. Cut these two piece to the frame size and then trim 1/8" from each edge to allow for the thickness of the panels on the insides of the recess.

Fitting and Finishing the Frame

Place the mounted artwork on the filler boards and place the mat over the mounted artwork. For glazing you will want to use UV protective glass as this promises to cut out 98% of the ultra-violet rays that can fade or yellow artwork. Tell your glass supplier to cut the UV protective glass to your frame size before you buy it so that when you are ready to frame it’s a simple matter of laying the glass on top of the matted, mounted artwork and placing all into the frame.

Use framer’s points to secure the stack of components firmly in the frame. The points can be entered with a Framer’s Tool or a Point Driver.

For a paper dust cover use only acid free buffered frame backing paper. Attach it with white glue. Dampen the paper with a sponge before attaching it so that it pulls up tightly after drying. Use D-rings and zerlon coated picture hanging wire to hang the artwork.

Your archival frame job is complete. Yet there is still something you must do if you want to effect the greatest long term protection. You must note the date of the framing on the back of the artwork, and below that note a date fifteen to twenty-five years hence when the artwork should be reframed.

Acid exists in the very air and as such can begin to contaminate acid free, lignin free materials given enough time. As a safeguard, only reframing can thwart the onset of acid contamination forever. A true archival frame job is not just the materials and techniques you use today, but the stewardship you provide in the future.

Canvas Printing

Printing on canvas is incredibly versatile and a great way to create a ready-to-hang image or artwork. Every canvas that we print  is protected with a UV coated acrylic finish to guard the print from dust, moisture and fading. Do you want your canvas stretched on bars or non-stretched? Framed or unframed? Customize the work to make it truly your own.

Art of Photography

Art of PhotographyPhotography is an amazing art form. A photograph album is a catalogue of life's history as seen through the camera. People, animals, nature, holidays, celebrations and even disasters are captured instantly and recorded as part of history. It is through the powerful presentations of photography that we better understand the progression of time and life. Hampton Photo Arts has over twenty years of experience working with photographers as they seek to capture and preserve the history of families and communities.

When families get together, both children and adults love to look through photograph albums. They enjoy seeing the childhood photos of older family members and compare themselves to ancestors who lived a hundred or more years ago. Photos are among the most important treasures of every family. They should not be faded and dull. They contain the smiles, tears and emotions of generations. The staff members at Hampton Photo Arts display excellence in the art of photography reproduction. They work with the highest quality materials. They know how to create family memories that will be just as beautiful one hundred years from now as they are today.

Learning to Paint Watercolors

Watercolor is an easy, fun medium for creating art.  Color theory, composition and design can be explored freely with watercolor paint, paper, and brushes.  Several techniques may be used with watercolors for varying effects including painting wet on wet, wet on dry, layering washes, and more.

Watercolor paper comes in cold press, hot press, and rough.  Rough paper has the most texture, and its hills and valleys can result in interesting effects when paint is added.  Hot press is the smoothest and has the finest texture.  Cold press has a moderate amount of texture and is the paper most commonly chosen by watercolor artists.

Watercolor paper comes in several weights ranging from 90 lb. to 300 lb. based on the pounds per ream of paper.  Most artists prefer to use at least 140 lb. paper.  Papers vary somewhat between manufacturers, so sampling different papers is advisable.  Paper can be purchased in pads, in blocks or in large sheets.  The large sheets are usually the most economical and can be torn into whatever size is desired.

Hamptons east hampton, southampton and bridgehampton. hamptons art and frames art supplies, framing and photo store in bridgehampton.