Conservation Standard Picture Framing

Minimum | Budget | Commended | Conservation | Museum

Conservation Standard

To visually enhance artwork and offer a high level of protection

  • Suitable For Collectable artwork that is to be kept for future generations, eg original paintings and limited edition prints of moderate to high value, as well as items of sentimental value. Customers should be advised that lifetimes given assume that artwork is not inherently unstable.
  • Moulding No significant blemishes. Care must be taken to match the pieces. The moulding should have a rebate that is sufficiently deep to comfortably hold the sandwich. If artwork is likely to touch the moulding, this should be sealed with strips of thick pH neutral fabric, Conservation mountboard or a conservation foil and paper tape. Note: Good original frames should be retained wherever possible as these can enhance the value of the artwork.
  • Mitres Accurately cut, glued and pinned tightly. Corners to be touched up so no unfinished moulding is visible.
  • Windowmount A windowmount or slip should normally be used to visually enhance the artwork and distance it from the glazing. Pencil marks should be rubbed out where in contact with the artwork. If close framing is required, there should be a spacer between the artwork and the glazing and this should be made from Conservation or Cottom Museum mountboard or plastic. The corners of the windowmount must be cleanly cut; the mountboard must be free from blemishes and there must be clearance of 1-3mm inside the rebate (clearance varies depending on frame size). Conservation mountboard or Cotton Museum mountboard at least 1100 micron thick and conforming to the Guild specifications should be used. Slip moulding must be accurately cut and should not touch the artwork. Multiple mounts or deep spacers must be used to frame works with migrant or delicate pigments, such as pastel drawings, or artwork with a cockled surface. Using a fixative on pigments is not acceptable. The windowmount should, where possible, project at least 5mm over the edge of the artwork, thus holding it firmly in place. Any pencil marks on the underside of the windowmount should be rubbed out as they may come into contact with the artwork. For photographs unbuffered mountboard should be used (This is only available in Cotton Museum quality.) Note: Sometimes it is advantageous to retain an original windowmount (possibly gilded or decorated). In this case preferably a 1100 micron, but at least 500 micron, Conservation or Cotton Museum quality mountboard barrier should be cut to fit the underside of the windowmount to within a few millimetres of the window or a few millimetres beyond the opening.
  • Undermount There should be a barrier layer between the artwork and the back board; this should be made from Conservation or Cotton Museum quality
  • mountboard at least 1100 micron thick. For photographs unbuffered mountboard should be used. The undermount should be the same size as the windowmount and hinged to it along the the longer side using a gummed conservation tape with a water-soluble adhesive. Note: Artwork stuck down onto acid board should be referred to a conservator for possible removal of the board.
  • Attaching Artwork The artwork should be hinged to the undermount with T-hinges on the top edge, or a similarly reversible process should be used, such as corner pockets made from conservation or museum quality material. It is not acceptable to make hinges from self-adhesive tape; they should be made from conservation or museum quality gummed tape with water-soluble adhesive. Hinges should be weaker than, or the same paper weight as, the artwork- never heavier. Hinges should be attached to the back of the artwork, not the front, and should overlap onto the artwork the minimum amount necessary to give proper support. Note: for the majority of art on paper 5mm should be sufficient. Artwork should be hinged to the undermount, not the back of the windowmount. Artwork must be properly centred and free from blemishes caused by framing.
  • Glazing Float glass or better, free from obvious blemishes and of appropriate thickness for the frame size. Glass with high UV protection should be considered. Must be cut to allow sufficient clearance inside the rebate of the frame. It is not acceptable for the glazing to touch the artwork. For large items and for items to be hung in areas accessible to the public, safety should be considered, eg laminated or acrylic sheet may be advisable. Final cleaning fluid should contain only deionized water and perhaps industrial methylated spirit.
  • Back board Backboard needs to be strong, rigid and flat, and to protect the artwork from damage. Must be cut to allow sufficient clearance inside the rebate.
  • Securing The Frame The frame must be secured firmly with framers’ points, tacks or similar. Flexible tabs are not acceptable.
  • Hanging Hanging fittings must be sufficiently strong to support the frame. Rivetted D-rings are only acceptable for lightweight works if the customer has chosen a thin moulding, in which case an additional 500 micron barrier should be used.
  • Finish Dust and dirt should be removed and the glass should be cleaned and polished without smears. It is not acceptable to seal the back with self-adhesive tape; gummed-paper tape must be used and this must be carefully applied. Pads or buffers should be applied to the two lower corners. A label giving the date and the framer’s name should be adhered to the back. Note: any existing labels should be preserved as this can provide provenance for the art.