A picture frame is a decorative surround, usually made of wood, that enhances and protects an artwork. Along with the mount and glass, the frame’s job is to protect the artwork from environmental damage caused by acid, damp, and light. Artworks that are stored under normal humidity conditions, away from light, and separated by acid-free paper, will retain their original condition for longer.
To preserve an artwork, it’s essential to create an acid-free sandwich in which the artwork is not exposed or in contact with acid.
Acid Damage Acid is a byproduct of the breakdown of lignin, which is present as a binder in all wood. Mount card that is made from wood potentially contains Lignin. Today, most quality mount cards have been chemically treated to remove lignin and are consequently pH neutral. Manufacturers guarantee that the core of “white core card” will stay white for 25 years. Studies have shown that today’s PH neutral materials, used by all good framers, will last up to 100 years without perceivable acid damage.
In the past, the tell-tale signs of acid damage in older framed artworks could be seen by a brown staining of paper, a browning of the mountcard’s bevel edge, and a brittleness of the paper. However, with the use of PH neutral materials, acid damage is no longer a concern.
If you are concerned about the preservation of an artwork on paper, it’s worth asking your framer about cotton-based mount cards. They are more expensive, but they will add a degree of longevity to an artwork’s preservation.
Museum Grade Mount Card Museum grade mount card made from cotton fibre is truly acid-free and more expensive, but it will last much longer than traditional mount cards. The framer’s job is to ensure that your artwork can be extracted at a later date in its original condition. The frame and mount are put together with PH neutral materials, or acid-free, and the picture can be restored to its original state. This means it has not been cut down, had irremovable glue or tape attached to it, or been damaged in any way.
Additionally, framers should consider the use of UV-protective glass to keep the artwork from fading or discoloring due to light exposure. They should also make sure that the frames are not sealed too tightly which restrict the circulation of air which in turn can cause moisture build-up.
A good framer should also have knowledge of the materials used to make frames and the different types of glues and adhesives that are used to assemble frames. This knowledge will ensure that the frames are assembled in a way that will not damage the artwork.
Overall, a good framer should be aware of the importance of preservation and should use appropriate materials and techniques to ensure that the artwork is protected for years to come. It’s important to choose a framer who has the skills and knowledge to create an acid-free sandwich and use appropriate materials to ensure the longevity of the artwork.