Framing Art on Paper
Open Edition Prints
These are often the least expensive type of art. Most are mass produced, often using lower grades of paper and ink that may not last as long as better quality art. If the image is popular, the publisher will keep printing more until demand eventually subsides. Prints are typically framed using mats and glass. Inexpensive prints are often framed decoratively, to coordinate with the decor of the room where they will be displayed. Due to the low cost of most open edition prints, you may choose not to use conservation framing materials, but be aware that the investment in higher quality materials will help your framing last longer regardless of the value of the art
Some publishers, including our own company Artaissance, use high quality printers, inks, and paper to produce high quality Giclee prints. Many of them are open edition, but they are the caliber of many limited edition works.
Limited Edition Prints
Unlike open edition prints, limited editions have the potental to increase in value. When the artist signs and numbers prints, they automatically tend to start out at a higher price. To insure that both the current and potential future value is protected, conservation framing is suggested. Limited editions are treated more like original art in that they are generally framed in a more neutral and classic fashion.
Watercolor paintings are generally matted and placed behind glass or acrylic. Watercolor paint tends to look light and airy and it has a translucent quality. To maintain that look, avoid mats and frames that are dark and heavy.
Tip: Watercolors are original art. Make sure they are properly preserved by using appropriate conservation grade framing materials to protect their value and their longevity.
Pastels are like chalk. If you touch the surface of art made with pastels it can smear, whether it is new or old. To prevent this, pastels are placed behind glass. When a pastel is matted, the hard edge of the mat can leave a permanent impression in the art. To prevent this pastels are often floated on top of a mat. If the framed pastel is ever bumped, dust can migrate from the art onto the glass or can be trapped between the glass and mat. You can overcome this problem by adding a second mat with a window opening and a spacer between it and the art. This will provide a space for the dust to fall behind the mat where it will not be visible.
Tip: Avoid using acrylic coverings on pastels. Acrylic is more susceptible to static electricity and the static can “pull” dust particles from the pastel, resulting in an unsightly mess. Pastels should be conservation framed.
Etchings and Sketches
When framing either of these art forms, it is customary to use mats and place the art behind glazing, either glass or acrylic. The scale of the frame should be relative to the size and line qualities in the art.
Tip: Etchings and sketches are made up of fine, delicate lines that can easily be overpowered by frame designs using strong colors or patterns. Use neutral mats and frames with more delicate patterns or textures. Be sure to use conservation materials to protect these pieces of original art.
Posters are often looked down on as being somewhat inferior to other types of prints. Granted, some are printed on flimsy paper, using cheap ink, but many posters are equal in caliber to fine art prints. Rather than framing a poster in an inexpensive "poster" frame, try mats or stacked mouldings like you would use for other types of art. Suddenly your poster looks more like a work of art.
Tip: Posters, like other art, should not come in direct contact with the glass. Since posters are often framed without mats, be sure to ask for spacers to keep the glass from touching the front of your poster when it is framed.
When you consider the cost of an education, a diploma is the most expensive piece of paper most people will ever own. It should be properly protected and presented by using good quality framing. Since a diploma may be used in an office for an entire career, choose classic designs that will endure.
Tip: Use neutral mats so they will fit in no matter where your diploma will hang in the years to come.
Old Documents and Miscellaneous Pieces
This category applies to all the rest of the paper items you may want to frame, including wedding invitations, land deeds, and calligraphy to name a few. Whether they are in good condition or not, it is always best to use conservation framing materials and techniques to prolong any further degradation. Otherwise, use the same types of frame designs recommended for other art on paper.
Tip: Tattered edges, rips, and even missing parts can enhance the character and hint at the age of these older pieces. It is common to float them in front of a background mat so the irregularities can be seen and enjoyed.
Photos printed on paper can be framed like other prints, using mats and frames that bring out the unique personality of the image.
Tip: Be aware that photos can be heat sensitive so some common mounting techniques may not work with them. Your framer may recommend hinging photos they suspect they may have problems with.