Q: You mean there's more than one kind of glass?
A: Yes! Glass is generally made from sand, soda and lime…just like it was hundreds of years ago. But quality varies, as do features. There are several types of glass:
- Regular Picture Framing Glass – Clear glass of a higher quality, and usually thicker and clearer than ordinary “hardware store” window glass.
- Non-Glare Glass – Picture framing glass that has been lightly etched on one or both sides. It refracts the light to make the surface less reflective. However, it does slightly dull the image under the glass…especially if there are multiple mats.
- Anti-Reflective Glass – A term generally applied to conservation and museum glass whereby the non-glare characteristic is achieved chemically rather than mechanically (as with etching).
- Conservation Glass – Filters up to 97% of ultraviolet rays with a silica coating bonded to the inside of the glass. Ultraviolet light causes fading and deterioration of artwork.
- Museum Glass – Better than Conservation Glass, Museum Glass is coated with a quartz-like substance that not only blocks UV rays, but does so with no loss of clarity. Museum glass lacks the objectionable green color when viewed on-edge.
Q: Isn't custom framing expensive?
A: Not when you include the benefits of personal attention, creative design, choice of mouldings and other materials, technical knowledge, equipment, and long lasting quality that enhances, protects, and preserves your "suitable for framing" items. Store-bought ready-made frames are great for things that don't matter too much. They are often made from compressed paper or synthetic materials, and sometimes even cost more than "custom" frames.
Most quality custom framers also offer a selection of non-custom, standard size frames.
A: Mounting is the process that secures the image (artwork, print, poster, photo, needle art, etc) to a more rigid backing or support. Some techniques are permanent (that is, non-reversible), while others allow the image to be restored to its original configuration without evidence of mounting. Professional framers typically use the following techniques, depending on the situation.
- Dry Mounting – Uses heat sensitive thermoplastic adhesives to bond the image to a substrate.
- Pressure Sensitive Mounting – Uses adhesive materials that become effective under pressure, and that are often "repositionable" until activated by pressure.
- Wet Mounting – The use of either water soluable glues or spray adhesives
- Conservation or Museum Mounting – The use of a mounting process that absolutely allows the image to be returned to its original (unmounted) condition without damage. The mounting is reversible. Thus, it is appropriate for original and limited edition works of art.
- Static or Friction Mounting – Certain materials can be suitably and non-invasively mounted with man-made materials that use static cling to hold the item in place. Cibochrome photographs are a common example.
Q: What's the big deal about acid-free materials?
A: Acids ruin artwork. Wood contains acids. Paper is made from wood. Today, NO credible framer would ever use ordinary paper mats. Insist that matting and mounting materials are acid-free (that is, pH-neutral) and lignon-free. (Lignon is what makes inexpensive paper turn yellow).
Acid free paper mats are manufactured by adding calcium carbonate to "buffer" the acidic characteristics. It works much the way an antacid table calms the stomach!
The BEST material is 100% rag. That is, made from all cotton…not paper. Rag mats are completely inert, and thus the safest matting and mounting board material.
Even wooden frames can be sources of acid that can damage the art that's intended to be protected. True conservation framers will always line the rabbet of the frame with a sealing tape or coating so that even the frame itself cannot transfer acid to the artwork or mats.
MORE ON MATS
Q: Why do I need a mat?
A: Mats provide two important functions: design/color and protection. Color and texture are important elements in any design. Framed art (photos, needle arts, prints, etc) can almost always be visually enhanced with one or more mats. Better yet, the mat prevents the artwork from coming into direct contact with the glass…a very desirable benefit, especially with photographs, pastels, and other delicate works.
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