There is much confusion within the framing industry about the differences between an acid-free product and an archival product, as well as a specific technique being expeditious and one that is also archival. Different shops have their own method of completing an order; yet, upon research, one can discover that there are specific standards for framing valuable artwork.
We have wanted to reply to a comment made on a previous blog on the topic of proper archival framing (see Purchasing Artwork From Reputable Galleries – What You Need To Know), but we waited until we received replies from a few sources.
Acid-free as it applies in our industry typically means the product is pH-neutral to slightly alkaline; that is, a pH of 7.0-8.0. This attribute, however, does not mean the product is archival. To be considered archival, mat board must not only be 100% acid-free, it must also contain 100% rag content: no wood pulp.
For example, to quote Crescent Cardboard’s technical staff: “Matboard number 9848 is an acid-free board, but it is not a museum board and therefore, we (Crescent) do NOT guarantee it.”
Nielsen Bainbridge Framing, another prominent matboard/cardboard source, assured us that Art Care archival foam board is indeed acid-free and features the Bainbridge Artcare technology. However, to quote Bainbridge, “Alpharag cotton surface foam board is the only foam board backing that is both acid-free and rag surfaced.” Therefore, it is the proper backing to use in direct contact with valuable works.
We also reached out to the Winston-Terry Company, the makers of Artist Tape, to clarify the proper method for hinging a valuable work to its mat. We inquired whether or not their tape was suitable for direct hinging of artwork. Their reply was very simple and direct: “We cannot approve direct contact with the artwork. Sorry”.
What we have been stressing in our previous blogs is that only products and techniques considered by the authorities in the field to be archival can be depended upon to provide protection—very long term protection—to your valuable works of art or your invaluable keepsakes and mementos. (If you are curious to view the damage caused by improper materials and techniques, we have a few examples in our showroom. They are not pretty.)
Many of the techniques and materials we write about can be found in the work The Conservation of Antiquities and Works of Art, second edition, Oxford University Press 1971.
In addition, any framer or otherwise inquiring mind can contact the Professional Picture Framing Association (PPFA) to purchase any one of numerous books on the proper and archival methods for handling works of art on both paper and other substrates.
There once was a clothing store chain in Chicago that made commercials designed to inform and educate, leading to their famous tag line: “An educated customer is our best customer.” At Silver Cloud Galleries, we subscribe to the same philosophy: The more we can inform and educate our customers about the framing and art industry, the better the relationship we can enjoy together.
As always, we welcome your comments as well as suggestions for future topics and, of course, your questions. Feel free to contact us via Facebook, LinkedIn, email or through our website. Thank you for reading.