Picture Framing: How to look after your frame at home

I reckon framers should take a certificate in basic Counselling skills, once you get to know your regulars, I swear they just come in for a chat and to off load.  So, I had to use all my empathy one day, when a heart broken customer brought in a damaged framed print.

We knew straight away what had happened to it.  Recently, the customer had re-plastered their walls and after redecorating, hung the picture back up.  This caused mould to form, very unsightly indeed.

So, with this in mind, I thought this was an important set of standard information to have up on the blog.

The following advice comes from experience, tales and the Fine Art Trade Guild.  General guidelines to keep in mind:

Don’t hang work on newly plastered walls!

It is recommended that you wait six months before hanging up work on newly plastered walls.

Beware damp

Damp can cause pictures to ripple. If the ripples touch the glass, the picture might stick and be hard to remove. Damp also encourages fungal growth – likely to show as brown stains. Conservation framing can slow these effects, but it is always best to avoid hanging framed pictures in humid conditions

Sunlight

When you hang your picture, try to avoid walls exposed to direct sunlight as it could bleach your picture and deteriorate the paper.

Storage

If you have to store your picture for any length of time, take care that the picture is standing vertically the way it would be displayed.  Standing pictures sideways or upside down could damage the mountings.

Temperature and humidity

To prevent extreme buckling, try to avoid hanging works of art (particularly if any value), above radiators, fireplaces or other heating system. Sudden changes in temperature and/or humidity brought about by close source of heat will cause the paper to change shape and buckle. Likewise, damp areas such as un-insulated brick walls and bathrooms will have similar effect due to the high level of humidity.

If your work has been dry-mounted this effect will have almost entirely been removed. Do not be disturbed however by miner fluctuations in the stability (flatness) of the print/picture, paper is extremely sensitive to the everyday changes in heat and humidity.

Hanging large pictures

If the picture you have is large and therefore is heavy, it is important to hang and display your work safely and without placing undue stress on the frame. Use two picture hooks that are anchored to your wall with nails (or two screws and raw-plugs of a suitable size) placed about six inches in from the inside of the frame.

Fixing & hanging

Do not use pressure sensitive hooks, whatever the size of frame, as the adhesive will eventually weaken and the picture will fall off the wall. Once the picture is hung, be sure that the cord is held securely in the crook of the picture hook and not on the head of the nail, where it could slip off.

Cleaning

Now that your picture is hung securely, you will want to care for it periodically. When cleaning the glass, spray your cleaner onto a rag first, then wipe over the glass. Spraying cleaning fluid directly onto the glass is likely to result in stains to the mount and/or picture, as cleaning fluid will flow behind the glass.

Metal frames can be cleaned with either glass cleaner or a mild detergent applied with a soft rag. Natural wood frames are best maintained with a standard furniture polish applied sparingly with a soft cloth. Dust all frames with a clean cloth.

Maintenance

Once a year, take your picture off the wall and check that the hooks are securely attached to the wall, and that the picture cord has not frayed or stretched and weakened.

From time to time, you may need to take your frame back to the framer for extra maintenance.  E.g. a stretched canvas may slacken over time and will need to be re-stretched. Tape or cord may need to be replaced.  Generally though, your frame should last a good while.

 

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