Conservation mounting, protection for your artwork

a picture mountA  picture mount is meant to protect and preserve as well as to decorate and enhance the appearance of an artwork, photo or drawing. Unfortunately, a lot of mounting not only fails to meet this basic criteria, but can also increase damage to the artwork.

Ageing of artwork can happen as a result of exposure to UV light, but more often it comes from acidic tapes, papers, mount board and backing board which leads to the characteristic ‘browning’ of artwork paper after a period of time.

A quote from a document titled, “Caring for your prints, drawings and watercolours” from the National Archives explains –

“Any exposure to light harms media and paper, but poor quality mounting and framing damages more works of art on paper than any other agent. Prints, drawings and watercolours can be ruined through contact with unsuitable framing materials, just as they can by amateur restoration and the use of inappropriate techniques in handling, storage and display.”

Brown frame backing tape used extensively on picture mount

Brown frame backing tape had been used extensively on this picture mount. Both the print and mount would age rapidly with this much acid about.

Brown frame backing tape used extensively on picture mount

Brown acidic frame backing tape used quite extensively on picture this picture mount. Little regard had been paid to preservation! This piece had been mounted by a professional framing company and it was done to a giclée print that had cost the artist more than £100 to reproduce!

In my time as a picture framer I am quite frequently presented with old artworks that require attention due to ageing (browning and warping caused by unsuitable tapes). One piece that was recently brought in was actually glued to the backing board which itself had warped and had started to discolour the print’s paper. Most pieces brought in for ‘restoration’ nearly always require a new mount with suitable tape attachment.

All too often I have come across cheap tapes used by whoever had done the previous mount or frame. This ranges from the cheapest of cheap cellotape or masking tape, to the sturdier, but still inappropriate for mount use, frame backing tapes. Many tapes can also become brittle, lose their adhesive and simply fall off. Believe it or not there are still lots of picture framers doing this poor, shoddy work. I suppose the idea is that they can save a bit of money and no-one will notice when the frame is closed, finished and paid for! However, picture framers should really take on the responsibility of preserving the customer’s work using best conservation practices.

Acid attack on artwork from brown tape

Brown acid ageing of the thick paper on this giclée print had happened due to brown frame backing tape being used for mounting purposes. This happened in a relatively short period of time 1-2 years approximately!

Conservation mounting is the process of using materials and techniques which provide protection to framed works of art on paper and preserving them from this ageing process.

So how do you protect against ageing in a picture mount?

Materials

The first step is to choose acid neutral papers, mount boards, other boards and tapes to do the job.

Conservation mount board is quite commonly available these days, and will help reduce ageing. Creating an acid free sandwich of a mount/backing board, ie conservation mount on front with a backing board of conservation mount board before the actual backing board, will also help prevent ageing.

Picture mount / frame layers

The layers involved in a standard conservation picture mount / frame.

I have also successfully used acid free foam board as a good, solid, robust mount backing board for larger prints or mounted prints for display purposes.

Alternatively, for a cheaper but still ph-neutral solution, there are some boards now available that combine waterproof surface, brown backing and a layer of white conservation paper on the face.

These boards are 2mm thick and offer affordable conservation. These boards are quite flexible, however, so for more expensive prints and original artwork, mount board or foam board with a hard MDF type backing would be the better option.

Mount board types

  1. Museum level
    For framing any valued original artwork. Cotton museum grade mount board is made from 100% cotton fibre – a traditional paper-making material, proven stable for hundreds of years. It can be un-buffered (neutral pH) or buffered with an alkali deposit which prolongs the stability of the board and provides some extra protection.
  2. Conservation level
    For framing original artworks. Conservation grade mount board made from chemically purified wood pulp and then alkaline buffered. The core and facings must meet certain criteria such as light fastness, pH ranges and quality of lamination adhesives.
  3. Standard level
    Not recommended for conservation framing. Standard mount board  is made from unpurified wood pulp. Unpurified wood pulp will gradually break down and release acidity, thereby damaging the picture. Although many wood pulp boards are now buffered with an alkali and described as ‘acid-free’, this is misleading. Standard mount board will brown over time and it will produce a brown looking core.

Tapes

Ph neutral tapes are the best choice for mounting to prevent ageing. They can come in self-adhesive paper, gummed paper and gummed cotton rag variety. The choice of which really boils down to how expensive the artwork is, how long you want to preserve it, or whether you or anyone else for that matter may ever want to be able to reverse the use of the tape by removing it at some point without damaging the artwork. Gummed tape can be removed by wetting, whereas self adhesive tapes would require solvent use. Can your expensive artwork handle a drop or two of water to remove the tape? Or could it withstand a solvent? Perhaps not, but these are valid questions to ask when choosing your mounting tape.

Mounting tape types –
Self adhesive ph7-70 conservation mounting tape Ph7-70 self-adhesive conservation tape: Is a high quality white 70gsm kraft paper tape with acid-free pH neutral acrylic adhesive. pH7-70 tape has excellent ageing qualities. High initial grab, which is helpful for art on heavier paper, and for working with textured or uneven paper and board surfaces. It is self-wound, with no liner to remove, making for faster working. It is ideal for hinging low value prints and artwork into mounts. Would require solvent to remove successfully.
Gummed archival tape Gummed Acid Free (Conservation) Archival Tape: Is a white, gummed, acid-free (pH 7 neutral) paper tape. It is coated with an acid-free, water-based acrylic adhesive system, is non-ageing and therefore will not turn yellow. It can be used in most framing projects for attaching artwork. This gummed tape is designed to allow artwork to be released easily from the tape (with water) and is recommended for conservation standard work.
Cotton rag tape Cotton Rag Gummed Archival Tape: For the ultimate ‘museum quality’ conservation, you can use cotton rag tape made from cotton fibres with a 2% calcium carbonate buffer and naturally lignin (a natural substance in wood derived products that contributes to ageing in papers) free with a pH-range of 7-8.
Ph7-70 acid neutral double sided atg tape Ph7-70 acid neutral double sided ATG tape:  A pH neutral double-sided self-adhesive tape – 19mm x 30m. Conservation grade, pH neutral, double-sided tape, acid neutral, using a water-based, acid neutral acrylic adhesive system which will not react with board or papers and can hence be used for conservation purposes. ATG tape gun compatible, although a tape gun is not required to use it. Important for sticking together double mounts where you are keeping the whole mount environment “acid free”. Cheaper acidic tapes can eventually be seen (as a browning) through the front face of a 1.4mm mount board given enough time.

Hinging

T-hinge picture mount

A T-hinge is commonly used to attach an artwork to a backing mount board before front mount is placed over it.

The attachment of the artwork to the mount board by tape should be done by creating ‘hinged’ attachment points between the artwork and the mount board. Hinges should allow the picture to hang safely and should be applied only to the top edge of the artwork. The amount of tape attaching to the artwork should really be as little as possibly required to hold it in place without being seen.  On thinner paper types, tape hinges can show through as a bump, so they should always avoid being placed behind the visible area of the artwork.

Hinge types can include T-hinges and S-Hinges both of which can be use to attach an artwork to the backing board. T-hinges are more standard and are stuck to one side of the backing mount board as well as the back of the artwork. They form a T-shape, and allow the artwork to hang and hinge at their attachment point. T-hinges can be paralleled up along the top edge of the artwork being mounted. Lightweight prints may only need 2 T-hinges, heavier ones 4-8 T-hinges, depending on how much space there is along the top edge. This way, you can evenly distribute a long, heavy piece of paper along a row of T-hinges.

S-hinges can be useful if you intend to display the artwork without a top (bevelled) mount.  They actually go through holes cut into the backing mount board and attach to the artwork back and the back of the backing mount board. However, the artwork would still require to be kept from touching the glass (which is one of the main roles of the bevelled top mount), so small spacers would be needed in this case to keep the glass floating from the artwork. These can be hidden under the frame rebate.

Common mistakes

A common mistake found with mounted artwork that I see is that the artwork has been surrounded by tape on all 4 sides (usually with one of the cheaper tapes, as I have mentioned before). This will most likely lead to warping or distortion of the paper or artwork with time as it changes with heat and humidity variations as well as age. When something is held down on all four sides, it has no scope for movement (expansion/contraction) in relation to its surrounding mount. To avoid this, mounts should only be attached on the top edge by tape hinges with the other 3 edges left to float/move naturally. The artwork will still be held in place by the mount itself, but will now be able to expand/contract in relation to the surrounding mount.

It is also common practice to attach the tape to the front mount itself, but you may want to consider that the weight of the artwork may be enough to distort the front mount over time (depending on how sturdy its is) so it may be wiser to attach the artwork with tape to the rear mount board instead, which is a more solid intact piece of board. This technique may not be the best option when you need a precision fit of the artwork to the mount, eg if you are trying to show a 6mm white print border edge the whole way around evenly, where any slight offset may look glaringly wrong.

Materials to use/avoid in conservation mounting

Materials to avoid in conservation mounting Materials to use in conservation mounting
Standard cheap mount board Conservation or Museum grade mount board
Cheap every day tapes
– cellotape type tapes
– masking tapes
– parcel tape
– frame backing tapes
– glues
Conservation grade tapes- ph7-70 self adhesive tape
– conservation gummed tape
– cotton rag tape
Mount backing to acidic brown cardboard or MDF Mount backing to conservation grade mount board or a suitable acid free buffer layer

Other conservation issues

Glass : An artwork should never come in contact with the glass. Spacing the artwork away is necessary for air circulation. The mount usually serves this function, however, sometimes with 3D or deep artwork, eg 3D acrylic, oil paints, sculpted  paintings, tapestries and stitched artwork, it may be necessary to add more spacing. This can be done using double or triple mounts, thick mounts, slips, fillets or special spacers. This will also be the case with frames where it is required that the artwork ‘floats’ on  a backing board with no mount, in which case spacers can be used to lift the glass off the artwork. Special plastic or wood spacers can be utilised which hide behind the rebate.

Light : An artwork can deteriorate with excessive UV light. Pictures should always be kept out of direct sunlight, but even non direct daylight will provide enough UV deterioration. Fluorescent lights are also a strong source of UV. To combat UV the fluorescent bulbs can be fitted with UV filters. UV filtering glass can also be used in the picture frame.

Heat: Excessive heat can easily distort paper, board or backing board, and even the frame itself in worst cases. It is therefore very important to not hang conservation artwork over radiators, fireplaces or any other heat sources.

Humidity: Humidity can be another source of distortion in artwork and mount board, as well as a trigger for mould formation. Damp or humid environments should be avoided where possible.

Insect Ingression: It is quite common to see common dust mites and other small insects crawl through small gaps in frames and work their way into the picture mount. Often dying there and looking like a smudged bit of dirt on the picture mount or, worse still, they may start breeding there! To reduce the chances or insect ingression, you can tape seal the mount/glass sandwich around the edges (with a good quality pH-neutral tape). You will also want to make a good backing tape seal, especially in the frame rebate corners. A final sheet of brown dust cover paper may also be stuck down on the frame rear which will add another layer of protection.

Summary

Conservation mounting is not just a concept that should be used by museums and fine art establishments, it should be used as an every day practice at every mounting/framing level to prevent your artwork from brown acidic damage that can happen all too quickly with cheaper materials. Be aware of the potential for some unscrupulous framers using cheap material solutions that are about as far from conservation principles as possible. Every framer should have the responsibility to preserve their clients’ artwork as a primary goal – that is every bit as important as the presentation and final appearance of the framed artwork itself.

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Clearance Framing Items

clearance framing itemsWe now have a page for discounted  Clearance Framing Items on the shop. We may change the page on a frequent basis as things are sold. They are priced to move, and are available as a one off. Once they are gone they are gone!

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PH7-70 Tape 25mm x 66m now available unboxed at a cheaper discounted price.

self-adhesive-ph7-70-conservation-mounting-tape-25mm-x-55m-unboxed--1602-pWe are now stocking the popular ph7-70 conservation (archival) mounting tape (25mm x 66m) in an unboxed variety with a significantly discounted price. The tape is identical (25mmx66m) to the boxed version as shown in the image, but it is supplied without the box.

Single sticky sided ph-neutral (acid free acrylic adhesive) conservation (archival) tape for hinging artwork to the picture, photo or art mount. This tape will not cause browning of artwork and is conservation grade with excellent ageing qualities. High quality 70gsm, self wound (no backing to remove), and works with a variety of paper textures. Size: 25mm wide by 66m length.

This makes it a cheaper way for you to do conservation art mounting for all your photographs, paintings and other artworks that require acid (ageing) protection.

You can of course still buy the ph7-70 conservation (archival) tape boxed version which is available too.

 

 

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A 3D Box Frame for Framing a Sports Shirt

Framed shirt in a 3D box frameProject summary :

An autographed sports shirt requires to be mounted and framed in a narrow black shallow rebate moulding. (Many frames for sports shirts are constructed with deep rebate mouldings, limiting choice).

Method :

  1. Prepare the shirt, iron it and then make it rigid for mounting.
  2. Mount ‘rigid’ shirt by sewing the shirt on to black foam board
  3. Cut a mount to surround the shirt and space it from the backing board with pieces of black core foam board.
  4. Build wooden box walls.
  5. Attach a backing board to the wooden box walls.
  6. Create a frame from moulding.
  7. Glaze.
  8. Fit mount to wooden box.
  9. Join together and finish.

This process sounds straightforward, but the first 2 steps can take over 2 hours to do. Stretching and stitching the shirt to the backing foam board is a slow and manually intensive task.

Lets take a look at each stage –

1. Prepare the shirt, iron it and then make it rigid for mounting

I started off by ironing the shirt, as it would otherwise just be crumpled and creased. I do this by putting a tea towel between the shirt and the iron so that I don’t damage the shirt or signatures in any way. In this example it is a cotton shirt and I do want to get the creases out, so I used the iron on a steam setting. Note: this may not be the best setting for other shirt materials (please consult the garment labels before ironing!). Remember to iron the sleeves and collar to be as close to the way you want them to appear when  framed.

Shirt stretched and waiting to be stitched

Shirt stretched and waiting to be stitched

Stitching the shirt to the backing board

Stitching the shirt to the backing board

To make the shirt rigid, I cut out a piece of mount board in roughly the shape of the shirt but wider, so that the shirt will stretch out and look unwrinkled. The mount board is used white side forward so as not to let a colour show through, making the shirt appear less than white! I made a rounded cut-out at the collar location so that the mount board would not be visible. You can see the mount board in the image shown as I have the collar undone to allow access for stitching. In this project I also made small mount board cut-outs to stretch the sleeves as they had to display the logos on the sides of them correctly. All mount board cut-outs are carefully positioned inside the shirt to give it a flat, stretched out look.

The sewing is done at various points around all the edges of the stretched shirt and sleeves to hold it firmly in place on the backing foam board. I tend to use a standard cotton thread that is as close to the colour of the shirt as possible with a medium sized standard sewing needle.

Making hidden stitches behind the collar

Making hidden stitches behind the collar

You can sometimes sew directly from the visible side of the shirt to the foam board at the back if the thread is very close in colour and you make stitches at the location of existing shirt seams where they will not be as noticeable.

Where possible, just hide the stitches – eg behind the collar is a great place. The shirt will need to be stitched several times and in different places along the neck and shoulders as this will be the best anchor point for ‘hanging’.

Stitches through the backing foam board

Stitches through the backing foam board

I usually do about 20-30 separate stitching points in total to secure the shirt to the backing board. After I finish each stitch I cut the thread, then tape down the loose ends of the thread to the back of the foam board with ph7-70 self adhesive conservation tape.

Stitched shirt standing vertically

Stitched shirt standing vertically

After the shirt has been stitched to the backing foam board, you should be able to stand it upright and see how it looks when it is vertical. If you see any loose or crumpled areas or some other gravity effect you don’t like the look of, then you will need to add in another stitch or two to make it look better. It should be noted that this is how the shirt will look in the frame while hanging on a wall.

3. Cut a mount to surround shirt and space it from backing board with pieces of black core foam board

Cutting a mount for a shirt is no different from cutting a mount for a picture, except that shirts are large and hence the surrounding mount will be large too!  You also have to be able to keep the glass away from the shirt and hence need the box frame to do this. The mount itself should be wide enough to hide the internal sides of the box. After I cut the mount, I use strips of black core foam board (so it’s dark and invisible should anyone peek in behind the mount) to space the mount from the backing foam board. The foam board strips are held in place by ph7-70 ATG double sided tape.

Stitched shirt with mount attached to backing board

Stitched shirt with mount attached to backing board

Once finished, the mount and foam board strips and foam backing board should look something like this. It is starting to look like the finished item.

4. Build wooden box walls

Box frame walls waiting to be joined

Box frame walls mitred and waiting to be joined

For the walls of the ‘box’ I just use thin strips of inexpensive 44 x 12mm (1 3/4″ x 1/4″) pine wood bought from a local timber store. I use the mitre guillotine to mitre them and join them with v-nails as I would for a standard frame.

Box frame walls with v-nail join

Box frame walls with v-nail joins on both sides

The v-nails are put into both the top and bottom edges of the box corners, as well as wood gluing them together. The size of wood you use here will determine the depth of the box, so if you want a deeper box then go for >44mm if you want less depth go for <44mm. The whole point of the box is for it to be deep enough to keep the shirt (or another 3D object) from contacting the glass. Just measure your object’s deepest dimension to come up with an acceptable depth.

5. Attach a backing board to wooden box walls

Taped and screwed MDF on back of wooden box

Taped and screwed MDF on back of wooden box

I then cut out a piece of 2mm MDF to the exact outside edge size of the wooden box walls. This backing MDF can be screwed or nailed down to the box walls. The end result will be an open sided box, almost like a crate with a front missing. I finish the long edges off by taping them together with ECO25 frame backing tape before securing the MDF backing with pan headed wood screws.

6. Create a frame from moulding

Frame sitting on top of box

Front frame sitting on top of wooden box

The next step is to cut the actual frame moulding. Because we have created a box (in effect a deep rebate), we can use any shallow rebate moulding to surround this box. This gives us a lot of flexibility when it comes to moulding choice – we can use any moulding, as opposed to just using the one or two deep rebate mouldings that we may happen to have in stock. We cut the front frame to fit the box outside edges. Once finished, it should sit perfectly on the wooden box as shown. We can remove the frame for now and place it to one side. One point of note is that there will be no weight bearing done by the front frame as the cord and d-rings will be screwed into the box, so theoretically, you can use quite fine moulding here.

7. Glaze

Mount and shirt with glazing

Mount and shirt with glazing

I usually use a small vacuum cleaner to clear out any loose specks of dust, dirt and hairs or threads inside the foam or mount enclosure and the shirt surface before fitting the glazing. Remember that this is the last chance to spruce the shirt up before displaying it. We can now cut the glazing to fit exactly on top of the mount after cleaning both sides of the glass. This will keep all external dust, dirt etc out of the shirt and mount area.

8. Fit mount to wooden box

Shirt mount fitted into box enclosure

Shirt mount with glazing fitted into box enclosure

The mount with shirt and foam backing can then be fitted into the wooden box that we created earlier. The mount edges (and glass edges) should completely cover the wooden box to its outside edges. If the depth of your mount is slightly smaller than the depth of the box, you can pad out the difference with foam board offcuts.

9. Join together and finish

Right angled picture plate holding frame together

Right angled picture plate holding frame together

The next step involves placing the constructed outer frame (moulding) over the glazed and boxed shirt. We then proceed to join the moulding to the wooden box. For this I am using brass plated right angled picture plates which are screwed into both the wooden box sides and the back of the moulding.

Frame finishing with D-Rings, low stretch picture cord and felt pads

Frame finishing with D-Rings, low stretch picture cord and felt pads

To finish the frame I delicately flip it over, face down on bubble wrap to protect the moulding face from damage and place felt pads at each bottom corner (for wall protection) as well as  brass plated two hole d-rings at the side and at the bottom of the box frame (not the front frame) to distribute load. I tie it up with #3 low stretch picture cord.

The frame is now finished and looks just like the first image at the top of this article.

Discussion

3D box frames can be accomplished more simply with a deep rebate moulding, quite often without a mount, but this generally limits the choice of mouldings that you can offer. It also limits the depth of the frame box to whatever the rebate depth is, which may be fine for some thinner 3D objects and collarless sports shirts. With the method described in this article, I can build deeper boxes if needed so that I can frame something with bigger depth dimensions without the need for specialised deep rebate mouldings.

The only downside to 3D frames is the time it takes to make them, which can take anywhere from upwards of 5 hours.

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Bifurcated Rivets with D-Rings

Bifuricated RivetSometimes you may find yourself using a moulding that is just way too narrow to attach a screw and D-Ring to. If you do, the rounded edge of the D-Ring can end up being visible from the front of the frame when hanging on the wall, which isn’t pleasant to look at.

One alternative is to continue to use D-Rings but instead of screwing the D-Rings to the frame, you can attach the D-Rings to the backing board by using Bifurcated Rivets. This is method I’d recommend for lighter frames only as there is a finite strength to MDF backing boards. The Bifurcated Rivets come in both nickel plated and brass plated finishes and require no specialised hardware to fit (a ruler, pencil, bradawl, screwdriver and hammer will suffice).

The procedure for attaching them to the backing board is as follows –

MDF Backing Board Measured for Bifurcated Rivets 1. Select a backing board at least 2mm thick MDF. (a relatively solid material). Mark the two points where the rivets are going to go (about 1/3rd way down from top and about 30mm in from sides)
 Use a bradawl to punch holes through the MDF 2. Use a bradawl to punch holes through the MDF at your measured points. make the holes close to 3mm in size – just wide enough so as to allow the bifurcated rivets to push through.
D-Ring with Bifurcated Rivet 3. Push the rivet through the hole of the D-Ring and then through the hole you have made in the MDF.
Splaying a Bifurcated Rivet 4. Turn the MDF over to see the rivet protruding from the other side of the board. Place the D-Ring and Rivet head on an old wooden off cut, and place a screwdriver over gap in the rivet legs.
Bifurcated Rivet Legs 5. Hit the screwdriver shaft with a hammer to start to splay the rivet legs.
Splayed Bifurcated Rivet 6. Take away the screwdriver and splay the rivet further apart with a hammer. Flattening the rivet legs against the board. If you are not using a barrier board between the backing and the artwork, then at this stage you should tape over these ends as they may push against the artwork (which is really not desirable). I recommend using a mount board or similar barrier layer of acid free board between the artwork and the backing board.
D-Rings attached by Bifurcated Rivets 7. Repeat with other D-Ring.
Finished Frame Backing wiht Bifurcated Rivets and D-Rings 8. Assemble the frame and finish tying picture cord between the two D-Rings. Congratulations the picture frame is now ready to hang.

 

 

 

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Frameless Clips, Swiss Clips and Clip Frames

Swiss Clip Clip Frame

A clip frame sandwich held together with Swiss Clips

We sell a lot of frameless clips which are used to create a frameless picture or clip frame.

The clip frame should consist of a ‘frame sandwich’ of –

  • Glass/perspex
  • A picture mount (optional)
  • Artwork
  • Backing mount for art protection (optional)
  • Backing board (Usually hardboard or MDF for strength).

The clip frame has its use where either you don’t want to go to the expense of having a frame for your artwork, or you would like to have artwork displayed right to the edge of the frame.

Clips can accommodate sandwiches of different thicknesses. In order to find out how thick your sandwich is just total the thickness of each part of your sandwich eg. (glass 2mm + mount 1.4mm + art 0.1mm + backing mount 1.4mm + backing board 2.0mm = 6.9mm, so I’d likely need to use the 7.5mm swiss clips or the 8mm frameless clips).

Glazing should always be smoothed around the edges to avoid exposing sharp edges. Glass in particular can be very sharp when left raw after a cut so make sure to smooth the edges of the glass  before using it in a frameless clip frame, a Tellum pad is ideal for this purpose.

There are several clips available to you for holding the frameless/clipframe sandwich together and there are also a few options available for hanging the frameless clip frame too –

Clip Name Max Sandwich Thickness Uses Notes on Use Hanging Options

Simple Frameless Clip

Simple Frameless Clips

4mm max Small clip frames Easy to just push on.Useful in small applications, but no securing mechanism.
3.8mm Frameless Clip3.8mm Frameless Clips 3.8mm (clips are 3mm wide) Tiny / small clip frames Requires a Pair of Levers to open. No hanging attachment. No securing mechanism.
8mm Frameless Clip8mm Frameless Clip 8mm (clips are 7mm wide) Small / medium sized clip frames. Requires a Pair of Levers to open. No hanging attachment. No securing mechanism.
20mm Frameless Clip20mm Frameless Clips 8mm (clips are 20mm wide) Medium / larger sized clip frames. Where extra strength and rigidity is required. Requires a Pair of Levers to open. No hanging attachment. No securing mechanism.
7.5mm Swiss ClipSwiss Clip 7.5mm 7.5mm max. Small / medium clip frames. Requires a small hole to be drilled into backing board in order to lock each clip in place. Hole position : 27.5mm in from side.
10mm Swiss Clip with Hanging HoleSwiss Clip 10mm 10mm max. Medium / large clip frames. Requires a small hole to be drilled into backing board in order to lock each clip in place. Hole position : 27.5mm in from side. Has it’s own hanging loop as part of the clip.
11mm Swiss ClipSwiss Clip 11mm 11mm max. Medium / large clip frames Requires a small hole to be drilled into backing board in order to lock each clip in place. Hole position : 27.5mm in from side.
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Brown Picture Hanging Cord

Brown Picture Hanging CordWe now have in stock brown picture hanging cord. It comes in –
Brown Picture Hanging Cord No.1,
Brown Picture Hanging Cord No.2,
Brown Picture Hanging Cord No.3
varieties/sizes. It has similar strength and characteristics as white picture hanging cord, but it is made in polypropylene. It does look very handsome on the back of a quality framing job. The colour of the cord would suit the bronze coloured D-Rings, but would also look good with Brass plated D-Rings too.

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Offset Clamps for Framing Stretched Canvas Prints

offset clamp for canvas frameStretched canvas prints can be easily fitted into a picture frame. Several methods are available, but one of the easiest is probably the use of offset clamps. These are little metal steps that come in varying step sizes of 3.2mm, 6mm, 9mm, 12mm, 18mm, 25mm, 31mm. The clamps are all approximately 10mm wide.

The different depths of step are available in order to accommodate most common depths of stretcher bars on canvas prints. The frame may also include a slip which will decrease the depth of the frame rebate and require the use of a smaller clamp size.

The stretched canvas is placed into the frame and each clamp is screwed down (by use of #4 zinc plated screws) in close proximity of the stretcher bars of the stretched canvas  in order to hold it in place.

offset clamp with paddingIf the step ends up being in between a step sizing, you can use  small pieces of felt in order to pad out the spacing.

Typically to finish a framed canvas print I will be finish it off as shown below by placing the stretched canvas in the frame, then placing a backing board (2mm MDF) on to it, taping in place with ECO15 or ECO 25 frame backing tape then clamped down in 2-5 places on each side (depending on canvas size) with the offset clamps.  Once offset clamped on all four sides, the canvas will be securely fitted in the picture frame, and will be ready to attach a hanging solution in this case D-Rings and cord.

offset clamps canvas print frame backing finishedIn order to keep the metal backs of the offset clamps from scratching a wall surface / paintwork, two small round felt pads can be placed on the bottom corners of the frame as shown which will keep the clamps from being in contact with the wall.

Alternative solutions include spring retaining clips, z-clips or bendable brass plates.

All of these items including offset clamps can be purchased from our Picture Framing Hardware for Canvas section of our store.

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The Trials of a Picture Framer

picture frame mouldingsThe trials of a picture framer.

“Do you have one just like that moulding but smaller?”

“Do you have that one but a shade lighter?”

“Do you have that in a warmer shade of gold?”

Sometimes, being a picture framer can be frustrating. You never have enough mouldings to cover the infinite breadth of consumer needs and desires these days.

There are usually two types of customer, one who trusts you as a framer, and trusts your judgements and will generally say “I don’t mind, just make it look nice”. And then there are those who are more, shall we say, picky. They tend to want to micromanage every aspect of the framing job right down to requesting a moulding that you have never seen before, to controlling the width of backing tape used! (OK, I exaggerate a wee bit!)

We are always driven to try to expand our collection to incorporate latest trends and fashion. This, as you can guess, can be challenging. Our collection of mouldings has evolved to try to cater for everyone, but there is always the risk that it just keeps getting augmented. We risk becoming a stockist of old, hard-to-find mouldings in 20 years’ time! We have some mouldings that have not been used in several years that we really wished we’d not bought, and some that fly off the shelves quicker than we can buy them in! An annoying one (annoying in colour as well as history) is the BRIGHT RED one. The supplier shipped it to us in error and, when informed about it, offered to sell it to us at a huge discount rather than pay for shipping it back. Of course, we chose to take it at discount, and it has subsequently resided untouched in the workshop ever since!

In reality, the difficulty lies in having too much choice. I have long thought that, if we were to start over again, we’d stock 4 mouldings: one black, one cream, one gold and one silver. Just think on how simple life would be!

Challenges for the framer don’t end there, we also have the different mount board colours and thicknesses to add into the mix too. It’s not much wonder that eventually, whether we like it or not, we are driven into becoming a framing stockist.

If anyone wants some narrow, bright red moulding, just drop us a note!

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Picture Hanging Cord or Picture Hanging Wire?

picture cordPicture Hanging Cord or Picture Hanging Wire? That is the question. A lot of people assume that picture hanging wire is stronger than picture hanging cord. This can be a false assumption. Many polyester low stretch quality picture cords can be a much more robust solution than some picture wires.

Picture Hanging Cords

Picture cords (especially quality low stretch polyester) have strength characteristics that will not be affected by environmental issues such as moisture degradation or rot (unlike string which you should never use for picture hanging). They (along with wires) are rated by their breaking strain. The following table lists the recommended loading –

Breaking Strain Weight Recommended Maximum Load
No.1 Low Stretch Picture Hanging Cord 89kg 18-22kg
No.2 Low Stretch Picture Hanging Cord 150kg 30-38kg
No.3 Low Stretch Picture Hanging Cord 184kg 37-46kg
No.4 Low Stretch Picture Hanging Cord 209kg 42-52kg
No.5 Low Stretch Picture Hanging Cord 337kg 67-84kg

Even with the maximum recommended loads for the cords, it is always safer to give yourself a larger margin for error and switch up to the cord size above what you think you will need.

The cord of course will only be as secure as the quality of the knot that is tied coupled with the robustness of the picture hook and hanger that the cord is attached to.

Polyester low stretch picture cord will approximately stretch only about 12% as opposed to 26% or more for for cheaper alternatives.  This should ensure that you never see your picture hook being exposed due to cord stretching with load.

Picture Hanging wire

Stainless Steel Picture Hanging Wire is the alternative to picture cord. It will not corrode, is of excellent quality and will shape and wrap easily. Similarly to cord it will still require a good knot tying technique.

brass wireBrass picture hanging wire has brass strands wrapped around a strand of steel.

Wires are specified by a Maximum Picture Weight and this should be treated with a margin for error. Ideally you should pick a picture wire that is double the weight specification of your picture.

Maximum Weight Spec. Recommended Maximum Frame Load
#5 stainless steel picture hanging wire 19kg 9.5kg
#5 stainless steel plastic coated picture hanging wire 19kg 9.5kg
No.3 brass picture hanging wire 18kg 9kg

Whether you choose picture hanging cord or picture hanging wire to hang your picture, you will need to choose based on load criteria, ability to securely tie to fixings and personal choice as to what you think works best for you.

heavy duty picture frame hangerAlternative solutions to picture hanging cords and picture hanging wires are to use picture frame hangers to hang directly onto picture frame wall hooks. This can be achieved by using some of the heavy duty wall hooks and heavy duty picture angers. This solution however requires precision positioning to ensure a level hanging picture.

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