Hanging on to your art

Published 7:58 pm Thursday, February 24, 2011

Brenda Wright, owner of Shooting Star Gallery, demonstrates the process that she uses to matte and frame a piece. Above, she tapes the mat to the piece. She makes sure to put the tape on the back of the piece only at the top so that the piece will have space to breathe.

The number one rule of framing — original artwork should never touch the glass, Brenda Wright says.

Especially in this area, humidity and mold will gradually destroy a photograph or picture touching the glass on a picture frame. Using an acid-free matte will help to create space between the artwork and the glass, but there is more to remember when trying to protect an important picture against the elements.

“To protect, to preserve and display is really why things are framed,” said Wright, artist and owner of Shooting Star Gallery on North Main Street. “If you don’t protect them, you are gradually losing that artwork.”

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For important artwork, you want to create a conservation-type environment, Wright said. In her shop, she uses not only acid-free matte, but also a special type of glass that will help to prevent destruction caused by light sources permeating the glass.

“Conservation glass prevents UV light from passing through and destroying the print,” she said.

Too much light hitting an artwork creates a blue-hued effect because blue is the last color to fade from a print.

When selecting a matte and frame, there are many options for colors.

“Traditionally, you don’t use a matte darker than the darkest color in the piece,” she said.

You also typically don’t want to use a color lighter than the lightest color in the piece, she said. “But rules are made to be broken.”

Wright said that personal preference is most important in choosing the right color for the frame and the matte.

“It depends on the piece and your ultimate goal,” she said.

She advises customers who are framing a piece for a show to keep it simple. She typically uses an off-white matte and a black frame when preparing her own work for a show. When you are framing a piece for your home, you can be more elaborate and use a decorative frame, she said.

Some people bring in samples of their upholstery and wall paper when they ask for her help in framing a piece, but Wright says it is best to match the matte and the frame to the artwork rather than the room.

“Avoid letting the color of the upholstery dictate the frame,” she said, as you want the piece to be versatile enough to work in any room.

When preparing the piece to be matted, Wright says, don’t do any type of permanent mounting. If you ever need to replace the frame, this would hinder your efforts and possibly destroy the piece.

She also explains always use acid-free, linen tape. When attaching the picture to the matte, you want to always put the tape on the back and only on the top, so that the piece has space to breathe.

“You only put it on top because it won’t hang freely otherwise and would cause buckling,” she said.

If you have a picture with any type of matte other than acid-free, Wright advises change it immediately. If your piece has a cardboard backing, dispose of the backing, as it will gradually destroy your treasure.