Although in our days framing is considered an aesthetical choice, it is essential for the works on paper, unless stored in a portfolio.
Atmospheric conditions, like acidity and humidity, and light are the main “enemies” of all works of art. The most conventional method to protect works on paper is matting and framing under glass. So far so good, but matting and framing yet it is tricky and can be the cause of damage for works on paper. Why?
All manufacturers of art supplies, like paper and paints, are striving to offer the best they can and we often read words like acid-free, lignin-free, archival, museum-grade, and lightfast, pigment based paints and inks.
But many frames, especially the commercial ready-made ones, do not meet these conditions. Mats are not necessarily museum-grade and in some framing shops they are described as PH neutral, in the best case.
Low-quality mats will deteriorate and will slowly damage the works on paper.
High-quality mats should be acid-free and lignin-free and buffered to absorb atmospheric acidity. The same goes for the backboard, where the work on paper will touch or will be mounted. And ideally, the backboard should be isolated from the hardboard by another paper ofa good quality.
In case we don’t want to use a mat, the work of art should not touch the glaze, glass or plastic. A so-called spacer should be used, a material of a good quality which is insert around the inner of the frame.
Here a small graphic representing all the elements mentioned above:
You'd perhaps expect this to be an expensive service offered by framing shops? Actually, it's not. In recent years high quality materials are readily available worldwide and are more affordable than you may think.
It's well worth investing in the best quality framing available to you, as the frame will protect your artwork for years to come