Welcome to our FAQ and Information Sections.
UV Filtering Glass and Acrylic in Picture Framing
UV Rays and Art
All About Mounting Artwork
How to Plan a Remodel for Art Display
How to Light Art
Glazing: Glass, Acrylic, UV Filtering, Non-Glare and Museum
Typically, glazing is used in most all picture framing of art on paper, photographs and documents. Glazing protects the art from damage by finger prints, dirt, water and UV rays. The exception is paintings on canvas and board because oil and acrylic paint are quite durable to touch and even water.
Protect from Fading
UV filtering products are always recommended to prevent fading of artwork due to UV exposure. Never hang artwork in direct sunlight, even with UV filtering glass because there will be heat build-up and thermal cycling. UV rays are also present in a bright room with indirect sun and in fluorescent lighting.
Protect from Breakage
Acrylic is unbreakable and weighs less than glass, but is susceptible to scratching and thus requires extra care while cleaning. Because broken glass can damage artwork it is recommended to use acrylic if the artwork is very valuable, large, being shipped, or installed over a bed or couch where someone might be injured in an earthquake. The advantage of glass is that it will remain scratch-free forever.
Protect from Glare
Some lighting situations create glare on the glazing that distracts from the enjoyable viewing of artwork. Non-glare products reduce the glare with micro-etching of the glazing. The etching also reduces clarity to some degree.
Museum Glass and Acrylic
For the ultimate in picture frame glazing there are museum products that reduce glare with a special film that does not interfere with the clarity.
How UV Rays Cause Fading/ UV Rays and Artwork
What are UV Rays?
Before you say, "Omigod, I don't want to read about science," this will be quicker than putting on sunscreen to block those pesky UV rays. The above chart of the electromagnetic spectrum (remember high school science?) shows that UV rays are to the left of visible violet light, hence the name ultraviolet, and are in the direction of increasing energy. That's why UV rays are dangerous for sunburn and for fading of artwork even though they are only 3% of the sun's rays that reach the Earth.
If you're wondering if your art is safe in indirect daylight, there are two ways to measure UV rays. We have a UV meter to measure UV rays at a given moment. But another useful tool is the blue card which records the cumulative effects of fading over a period of time. This card was placed at the Annex on April 23, 2010. It has several strips of fabric dyed with a range of light sensitive blue dyes. The card is attached halfway behind a picture frame and the photo shows how the lowest blue strip has faded since its placement in April. Remember, art is meant to be viewed and the final judgment about art placement is balancing the factors of your desire to view the art, the type of art, value of art and environmental conditions.
Different artworks have various levels of UV sensitivity to fading. For example, we've all seen color photographs that have grown pale with age. Watercolors are sensitive to fading because the layer of paint and pigment is so thin. Oil paintings are fairly robust but are ultimately subject to fading as well.
1. UV rays are not just in direct sun but also in indirect light.
2. Protect artwork with UV resistant glass. This is 98% to 99% filtering so there is still 1% causing fading.
3. Keep artwork out of direct sunlight and high light situations
Mounting: Photographs, Documents and Art on Paper
There are several ways to mount photographs, documents and art on paper in preparation for framing. Choosing the appropriate method is generally a trade-off between preserving a valuable artwork or making a piece of paper look flat and smooth. Valuable artwork should be mounted with conservation methods so that the art can later be removed from the frame and so that it is not damaged from adhesives. If on the other hand the goal is to have artwork mounted smooth and flat, then methods like vacuum mounting are the preferred method.
Conservation mounting covers methods that are non-invasive and reversible such as hinges and photo corners. If the artwork ever needs to be removed from the frame or re-framed then the conservation mount is easily reversible. Hinges are made with conservation materials and attached with acid-free wheat paste. Photo corners are small pockets made of mylar that hold the corners of a photograph or document. Overmatting adds additional support to hold the artwork.
Vacuum mounting uses a combination of vacuum pressure and heat to glue the entire surface of an artwork to a substrate. A variety of adhesives are available that are either reversible or irreversible. Vacuum mounting forms a smooth and flat surface and is ideal for flattening a wrinkled artwork and keeping it wrinkle-free.
Face mounting is the reverse of typical mounting in that the face of the artwork is glued to acrylic instead of the back. Face mounting is frequently used for photographs because it creates an exceptionally smooth and glossy finish. This process is completely irreversible so one must take extra care to insure that the acrylic never gets scratched.
Specialty mounts include mounting photographs or artwork to other materials such as aluminum or masonite boxes.
Planning for Art Display in Your Remodel
At the beginning of a remodel is the perfect time to plan for displaying artwork, family photos and memorabilia. When the plans are being drawn is the time to think about color, sightlines, lighting and placement of electrical controls and air vents.
Color Palette – Original art doesn’t come in a variety of color choices like you get with fabrics and carpets. Start with a significant piece of art for the color palette and work with it for fabric and carpet selection.
Sightlines and Anchor Walls – Have you ever been in a gallery or museum where you see a striking piece of art which is actually several rooms away, but because of a sightline and good lighting the artwork is absolutely stunning? That wall is like an anchor that pulls you towards it. Other important walls are above the fireplace and above the couch.
Look for the anchor walls in your home. Think about standing in various spots in your home and what you see. Look through doorways from one room to another, what is on the opposite wall? What is at the end of the hallway? Perhaps there are situations where a door or window can be moved six inches to radically improve the display possibilities of a wall.
Windows – A large picture window makes it difficult to display a prominent piece of art. One solution is to install smaller windows on either side of the wall to preserve a large wall space in the center for art display.
Light switches and air vents – Don’t ruin a wall by thoughtless placement of a light switch, thermostat, air vent or other control. Put these items as close to a doorway as possible or on a wall that is fundamentally unsuited for art display.
Lighting is essential for enjoyable viewing of artwork. Commonly used systems for art lighting use either PAR 30 bulbs or low voltage MR16 bulbs. Track lighting is popular for its flexibility and recessed cans provide a cleaner, more aesthetic look.
How To Light Art
People frequently ask us about the best way to light artwork. It can be a complex subject, whole books are written about lighting. What I’ve learned about lighting is from designing three art galleries, talking with experts and reading. Here are some of the basics about installing art lighting in your home.
Track lighting and recessed cans are the preferred types of fixtures for lighting artwork because of their flexibility for aiming at artwork. Track lighting is the most flexible system for moving lights and aiming at artwork. Recessed lighting with adjustable heads are attractive for their clean look but aren’t quite as flexible as track. Recessed lighting with fixed lights are used for wall washing and ambient lighting, not very suitable for art lighting. High-end fixtures can include louvers and filters for focusing light just on the art, reducing ceiling glare and filtering UV rays.
MR-16 low voltage bulbs because of their compact size are a very popular bulb for lighting of art in residential and retail situations. They provide a wonderful white light and are available in a variety of beam spreads. These low voltage systems use a transformer on the fixture or hidden in the ceiling. The bulbs emit a small amount of UV rays which are filtered by the glass lens that comes with most MR-16 fixtures. TIP: Do not touch the inside of the bulb because your finger oils will make it burn out sooner.
PAR 30 bulbs are larger than MR-16s and have a standard screw-in base. They are commonly used in residential recessed cans and track lighting in art galleries.
Light Placement should be set so that the light strikes the wall at 30 to 45 degrees, measured to a point at eyelevel on the wall, approx. 60” from the floor. A steeper angle than 30 degrees will create deeper shadows and shallower than 45 degrees may cause reflective glare. On an 8 foot ceiling place your track or recessed cans 20” to 36” away from the wall and on a 10 foot ceiling, 42” to 60” from the wall.
Incandescent flood lights are not suitable for art lighting.
Fluorescent and LED are very energy efficient and have made much progress with full color spectrum but not yet good enough for art lighting.
Picture lights, budget $29 to $500, mount directly onto a picture frame or wall and are usually powered with an extension cord. There will be a separate discussion about the variety of picture lights.
Avoid UV light rays because it causes fading. UV rays are present in sunlight and small amounts in fluorescent and halogen lighting. It is recommended to use UV filtering glass in all picture framing and to avoid direct sunlight.