CONSERVATION FRAMING is about preserving the MODERN legacy for the FUTURE as it is about preserving the Historial Legacy of our PAST.
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Here is some compelling pictorial proof of how past framing practises can damage irreplacable arts and crafts. The industry has had a steep awareness curve to remedy such damage:
1) Developing stable & protective conservation products to preserve those items of modern artwork as well as those past survivors or they meet a similar fate.
2) Restoration techniques in an effort to repair such damage.


result of glueing all edges of artwork, corrugation result of glueing all edges of artwork, corrugation


"Paper Corrugation Cause of Lionel Lindsay Australian Etching"

An original etching, 1 of only 5, a portrait of a Lionel Lindsay neighbour's prize rooster!Lindsay was a member of the incredibly talented family of artists sharing the fame along-side Norman and Percival.
Framers of this era remedied the paper-stretching effect of the printing press on paper placed on a thick copper plate by adhering or taping all 4 edges. As much as this had the desired effect in the short term, it increased the issue of either corrugation or tearing enormously in the long term.
Organic mater expands when hot and contricts when cold.
a)When all edges are secured in the latter we often see straining and tearing as there is no "give" in the paper, especially if it has been weakened by acid activity (see other examples)
b)Likewise when the paper expands in its restricted housing it will "corrugate" to be accomodated.
To PREVENT both situations we will only use Conservation technique Hinging in usually two tabs across the top edge with acid free (cotton, linen, rice paper) with starch ahhesive that is easily deactivated if required with no harm to the print/art surface. This will allow the unrestrained edges to move unhindered.

aged etching presentation, in need of restoration and conservation framing techniques, murray river, red gums UVF2
"Evidence of Age-Stress on a Magnificent Australian Etching"

An original etching, 3 of only 12, recording the magnificence of the mighty River Murray red-gums. The value of art is it acts as a time traveller, tapping us on the shoulder, reminding us of what was for better or worse. As SOuth AUstralian now know, irrigation practises and increasing populations have violently impacted on scenes such as these etched by Max Raglass in 1933.
Framers of this era used wood pulp materials as specialised knowledge and framing products were not available. Once removed from its housing we see the ravages of LIGNIN present in wood pulp, and how light gaining access through uninked paper has accelarated the acidic activity resulting in darker "negative" of the etched image.
a) "ACID BURN"- This term relates to the materials being made from wood-pulp (trees), introduced to the world in the 1880's as a cheap source of paper. Lignin is the agent that produces acid as aging by-product.
b)UV LIGHT- has caused this darker area to age more rapidly and is in so doing has provided proof of the potential fading that has occurred. Paper conservationist can repair the damage to this watercolour, although can not repair faded colour, that is permanent. To preserve art, both antique and modern, framers now have access to Ultra violet blocking glass products, both of consrvation and museum quality.
c) "MOUNTING ARTWORK"- Taping artwork is attempt to "Flatten" paper distortions that occur naturally, especially when paper is dampened & pressed over a copper etched plate to pick up the ink in the etched grooves. Paper is organic and reacts to heat (expands) and contacts with cold so taping down resticts the movement, potentially leading to "corrugation" in the former and stress leading to tearing in the latter.
Paper artworks require HINGING only.

example of Ultra violet damage on John Gould original lithograph UVF3
1980s frame presentation of ANTIQUE HAND COLOURED LITHOGRAPH for John Gould's MAMMALS OF AUSTRALIA, circa 1845~1863 (1/250)

Here is an invaluable examples (since I would not simulate this as proof that it happens!) of an original John Gould hand coloured lithograph printed for Jonh Gould's MAMMALS OF AUSTRALIA between 1845 to 1863 that was one of 250 printed for subscribers.
1)ACIDIC LIGNIN:- In the 1980's a new product was marketed as ACID FREE. This 4 mm wood pulp mat came with a thin layer of acid free paper designed to be in contact with the artwork. It was cost effectiveness for both Custom framers and customers as it seemed to seemed a solution to the known deterioration of paper. However, that thin layer was little defence from the acid build up from the core and the solid timber craft wood backing, seen on the right. The acids from the aging process migrated to "burn" the surface of the print around the bevelled cut at the front while transferring its acidic yellow calling card to the back of the paper which would soon manifest as "brown spots" on the front as the deterioration continued. The framing materials would ultimately DISSOLVE the paper. It was only the high quality of Flax/hemp wove paper that does not contain Lignin, That has resisted the Acidic attack. This was remedied by leaching out the acids by a trained conservater followed by the application of 100% cotton conservation mat & backing.
2)ULTRA VIOLET DAMAGE:- Evidence on the timber backing illustrates the effect UV light has in accelerating the Lignin, hence acid activity. The more acidic darker yellow relates to the unhindered light penetration through the uncoloured white paper. The ghostly lighter area "negative" of fruit bat silhouette proves the umbrella-like protection from the UV by the lithographic ink and hand colouring. The result is the worthless board underneath has been spared the full UV fading impact at the expense of the meticulous, scientifically correct, work of the hand colourist at time of printing.
Yet another the 250 original hand coloured lithographs has been irreversably faded! The Clear glass previously used was replaced by UV blocking glass with the additional customer advice to display away from intense natural or artificial light environment.
Products on the market today enable us to prevent such incidental damage and are highly recommended when customers come into the gallery for framing consultations to perserve the integrity, hence the value of their investment, often for Superannuation purposes.

aged Watercolour presentation, in need of restoration and conservation framing techniques UVF4
"Stressed original watercolour by an ANCESTOR"

An original watercolour, once removed from its housing reveals a checklist of damage caused by inappropriate mounting materials that have caused,
a) "acid burn"- This term relates to the materials being made from wood-pulp (trees), introduced to the world in the 1880's as a cheap source of paper. Timber has an element in it called lignin that ages relatively quickly compared to hemp and cotton fibres used previously to make paper. The by-product of that lignin is acid which 'burns' the materials (paper, fabric, photographs) that it comes in contact with.
b) Taped down in an attempt to "Flatten"out the distortions that occur naturally in paper, especially watercoloured examples distorted by the use of applying water to paper. This means that as the paper expands with warmth it will "corrugate"as it is fixed to the board. Alternatively as its environment cools it will shrink which may eventually stress the paper by tearing, usually at the corners. Paper conservationist can repair the damage to this watercolour, although can not repair faded colour, that is permanent.
The Watercolour now lives in a "rag sandwich" housing ie cotton conservation boards, free of lignin, on the front and back attached with linen tapes with starch adhesive hinges USUALLY ONLY TWO at the top fixed to the backing board. Everything that we do to an artwork can be reversed very easily unlike this treatment in the 1920's!

embroidery aging UVF5
A TEXTILE (Great Grandmother's Cross-stitch) framed in c.1910

An example of what can happen with a combination of lignin in wood pulp backing board and exposure to light: the board has aged more rapidly where the light has been more intense ie. the areas not protected by the embroidered soldiers and writing.
Also it is important that glass not touch artworks as glass sweats and promotes mould growth. This can be avoided by using non-reactive material (ie acrylic) spacers in the frame rebate and the chosen glass to create distance and ventilation.
Since any cloth has less rigidity than paper and can not be hinged all sorts of solutions have been employed in the past:
In this case the framer used an animal based glue which had to be prized away from the cardboard backing)
In more recent times, since the advent of the stapler, the framer has often secured the textile with metal staples on what requires a solid timber backing to hold the staples. As we have already seen, this is unwise due to the Lignin in wood pulp. Secondly the staples can both catch and pull threads before they potentially corode and sieze doing the job they were emlployed to perform. The Picture Framers Guild of Australia, along with other leading national framing guilds, recommended that textiles be laced by adding calico extensions to the artwork (so as not to pull any threads in the lacing process) and conservation materials employed.

1970s artwork deterioration UVF6.

This artwork has gone off for removal of acid but the fading of paint cannot be fixed. The rear of the paper was as yellow as the dark area of the cardboard (wood pulp) backing but the front showed only a few "tea stain" spots. The purity of the hand made flax paper, hence containing NO LIGNIN, resisted the acidic bombardment of the aging woodpulp presentation materials (hence containing lignin), but not for much longer. The environmental conditions of the display area will dictate the speed of deterioration (heat, humidity, light, insects) but if lignin is present it WILL age and produce acid as a by-product of that aging.
The owners were horrified on being confronted with the indisputable evidence of this valuable contemporary artwork's decline, protesting that it had been in a dry storage for 20 years. This ghostly evidence of an outline proves that it has undoubtably faded as the Ultra Violet light has passed through paintless paper to accelerate the acid production while the painted surface has protected the worthless cardboard beneath. We also see how the maroon mat has blocked access of UV light to the backing protecting it while fading the mat surface taht is evidenced by the stronger mat colour protected by the frame rebate.
The sad fact is that Aging Lignin, present in Wood Pulp materials, acts like an aspirin in a glass of water. It will continue its acidic process even if placed in a darkened area for years.

SOLUTION replace presentation materials,
1)with stable CONSERVATION products
2)use Conservation/Museum UV Blocking glazing, be it glass or perspex
3)display in an area avoiding strong natural or artificial light and humidity (which is present near wet areas, cooking environments, in evaporated airconditioned rooms)


The artists & ancestors, tradesmen & craft disaplines of past eras that created the artworks of the past are often not with us today. The wondrous technologies that are ancestors marvelled at are superceded by the NEW technology of the PRESENT.
The pictorial printing industry's contribution to art and knowledge began with Johannes Gutenberg's quest to print the Bible in the 1450's. Subsequently this technology has developed to answer both a need to achieve a desired effect, eg. AQUATINTING was a delicate tonal etching technique to emulate the subtlety of a watercolour painting, and then there was development of the commercially successful technique of CHROMOLITHOGRAPHY Not only was the latter the "holy grail" of the ability to print colour but went on to became the cost saving printing process alongside the development of photography, that would net develop commercially accessible colour capabilities until the mid 20th century.
It had the ability to produce images printed in oily inks, emulating the richness of oil paintings, but also saved the printing houses expenditure and making them more efficient for the demands of the greater affluence of a burgeoning middle class.
Why go back to having to train engravers and employ hand colourists?
It is quite evident that the finite nature of the records of our past is just as true of the present technologies and processes that are moving with much greater urgency.


The ANTIQUARIAN PRINT GALLERY (APG) is a proud member of PICTURE FRAMERS GUILD OF AUSTRALIA , a Guild of AUSTRALIAN Picture Framers "committed to upholding and promoting the Guild's professional framing standards".

Sandra Ker, one of the founding family members of the Antiquarian Print Gallery, has been the PFGSA/PFGA (2007) President 2006/07,2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10.

Both Contemprary Art & Antiques have the potential for excellent long and short term investment returns.
A major feature of value is that these items be in GOOD/EXCELLENT original condition.
Consequently the Custom Art Framing Industry has a responsibility inform customers of the latest scientific knowledge and technology.

APG's policy is to offer the best materials and knowledge of the 21st century, including the VIRTUAL FRAMING CONVENIENCE of VISUALISATION. Whether our clients wish to frame
*One of the many Genuine Antique Prints or Quality Limited Edition Giclees at the APG
*Precious family heirlooms
*Family photographic opportunities
*Textiles eg. Cross-stitches, embroidery, quilting...
*Valuable, irreplaceable documents like University degrees...

Disclaimer: Art and the materials that seek to preserve them are organic. Customers are advised that conservation framing materials are influenced by environmental Factors. It is the customers responsibility to hang artwork away from strong/direct light, including filered sunlight and Articicial lighting. High Heat and Humidity can damage artwork: beware Wet areas, exterior walls, airconditioning units, skylights etc. Talk to your framer about methods of mitigating long term art damage, including periodic inspections.

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