Framing and Fine Art Paper

I scoured the internet for all things related to archival framing.  I dove into information regarding the best products to use and professional techniques.  After several months of research  I learned a ton about archival framing methods and products to preserve the framed artwork properly.  The importance of linen hinging tape, acid and lignin free papers and mats.  And how wearing cotton gloves when working with these materials is very beneficial.  It was equally interesting to see examples of poorly framed artwork with inappropriate materials and to see the damaging effects these materials would cause over the years.

My perspective of framed artwork changed dramatically!

It was also a new realization just how important the actual frame style was in correlation to the artwork was.  I initially felt my photography style would be best suited  for a simple narrow black gallery frame, a strong mat surrounding the image, and very "Art Gallery" feel.

This gallery exhibition look is very stunning.  The simplicity of clean lines and organized/minimal layout is truly very sleek and modern. A beautiful gallery example indeed.

Ok, I thought, this is the direction to go for my framing requirements...even though it didn't feel 100% on point with my vision....

The next step was to meet with the gallery owners and find out there hanging requirements.  How do they prefer the presented framed pieces to be hung?  Do they prefer wire? Sawtooth hangers? Something completely different?

I have visited our local gallery on many occasions and enjoyed the variety and talent of the wonderful artworks presented.  I had never though, considered how the artists "hang" their work.  I mean how often, in a gallery setting, does one lift the piece off the wall?  I never have.

I had a spectacular visit with the gallery owners regarding my upcoming exhibition and learned so much.  They were so patient and knowledgeable during our conversation that I am pretty sure my feet didn't touch the ground walking back to the car.  The whole experience was becoming more and more real.  I will share more detail on the gallery, the application process, and jury acceptance announcement in future posts.

Following that conversation, I revisited my entire plan of framing.  Having new found visual perspective on the exhibition wall space for featured artists at the gallery,  the wall color, and the number/size of prints I will be showing, I made a HUGE decision for my art....  

.....I changed the framing thought to something that was truly more in line with my art.

Vintage frames....in white.

This revelation and decision was perfectly in line with my photography.  Not only do I create my images to showcase the gorgeous simplicity of vintage everyday and heirloom items but how perfect they should be housed in a vintage frame!  I adore the look of "old with new" and the frame will be just as much as work of art as the image.

I have begun the hunt to find the ideal frames with sound structure and beautiful patina and must admit the success rate is high.  I have a strict budget for the frame purchases and the quality must be stellar.  There have been many prospects at antique and thrift stores that look fabulous on the wall but sadly do not fit the bill upon closer inspection.  Either the wood is badly cracked, the frame is warped, or the previous re-framing attempt on the piece left behind too much damage to repair.

I also discovered that I need to remember to bring my tape measure on these buying trips as sizes can be so deceiving.  What looks to be an 11x14 frame has a wonky measurement that would require far too much customization with the print, mount board, and mat to refit.  Corners on the frames are another area that require close inspection.  The seams should be strong and straight with a tight fit.

The frame glass or glazing must be in pristine condition and if a new piece is needed, I have found a local resource for custom cutting.  Museum glazing is the ideal choice due the conservative qualities and further exploration is required as this can be very costly.

As part of my research and "hands on" with framing, I framed two prints for Mike for Christmas this past year.  It was during this process that I quickly learned the value of cotton gloves,  a pristine dust-free work area, ammonia free glass cleaner, how to align and tighten the frame backing paper, as well as properly installing and tying the hanging wire.  I thoroughly enjoyed the process and the results were worth the effort.   

To be able to photograph and capture a strong feeling of my minds vision, frame the print in an archival manner, and say that "I did this myself" is very gratifying!

At the moment, I am working with a professional print lab in Tennessee that is creating some test prints for me on Hahnemühle fine art paper - that is the paper of choice for my exhibition prints and I am curious to see the results on the various Hahnemühle paper options.  

CLICK HERE for source and a quick non-narrated video on Hahnemuhle fine art paper types

CLICK HERE for source and a quick non-narrated video on Hahnemuhle fine art paper types

I just received an email update from the print lab that my test prints are on the way!  I will be writing a post about the complete experience with this particular lab very soon and will be excited to show you the results.

I am also trying a new frame backing paper and archival mat brand which I will share soon too.

This is the tip of the iceberg when planning this exhibit and I am anxious to share the products and processes with you as I research and test them.  I am narrowing down the image selections for my "theme" and will keep you updated on that as well.  Be sure to watch the TUTORIALS page as I will add links to excellent resources, video how-tos, and much more! 

Much more coming your way and if there is something in particular you have a question about regarding print labs, papers, framing, etc.  I would be happy to help as best as I can.   Leave me a note below or send an email from my ABOUT page and I look forward to hearing from you! 

Have a wonderful weekend!

Joan Marie