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Talk on Framing by Richard Bond, 21 May 2010
Contact him at Bonds Framing, 65 Deepcut Bridge Road, Deepcut, Camberley, GU16 6QP
Tel. 01252 838550, email bondsframing@xln.co.uk

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On 21 May, a select band were treated to a fascinating presentation on the subject of framing. Many of those, who attended were very experienced and may have thought that they knew almost all there was to know about Framing. However it was not very long before it became clear that even the most experienced of us had much to learn. And the presentation quickly became a dialogue owing to the many questions from the audience.
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Richard started with the Frame materials. He explained the importance of cutting the whole frame from the same piece of moulding as even mouldings of the same pattern from the same batch could differ widely from each other owing to the act of sharpening the moulding blades. Also, narrow frames such as those usually used for watercolour are moulded in two's and to differentiate between them one half of the pair is given a groove down the back. Even in this case it is essential to use either one half or the other as mixing won't match.
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Richard went on to demonstrate the importance of using the right choice of moulding in terms of colour and weight to match the artwork and the importance of accurately cut corners. Saw cutting mitres is seldom satisfactory and besides not giving true and snug mitres, often results in a chipped paint or varnish along the edge of the cut. Professionals use a wedge shaped blade fitted to a power cutter. This cuts both side of the mitre at once with complete accuracy. When the mitre has been cut the joint is glued and zig zag nailed, again using a power tool.
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Then Richard turned to the subject of the mount. Professionals use a double mount with a mountboard back to which the artwork is fixed by glued rice paper tape. Never masking tape, which can stain the artwork. In any case masking tape dries out over time so that the artwork can slip out of position. The part of the mount surrounding the artwork is hinged to the back mount board, again by glued rice paper so that art and mount are accurately positioned. The glue used with the rice paper tape is water soluble, so that it can be removed, if required.
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It goes without saying that the mounting materials should be acid free. However most of the mounts supplied with made up frames and available from art suppliers are not and those, which are not will turn to dust over time and will damage the artwork. So great care needs to be taken, when sourcing mounting materials. If the artwork is particularly valuable, then conservation grade board is used.

Mount cutting can be done successfully by the artist as purpose made cutters are available at reasonable cost. It is vital that the blades be razor sharp. If not they will fur up the surface of the cut and this will find its way on to the inner surface of the glass.

For pastels and other dry pigments, Richard recommended at least double framing to prevent loose particles from getting on to the inner surface of the glass.
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A good idea is to have a triple mount, where the second layer has a reverse mitre and is placed slightly proud of the inner layer to provide a trap for loose particles.

Similarly the backing board should be acid free and the type like thin corrugated cardboard is perfectly acceptable.

Richard explained that there were several types of glass available. The glass normally supplied with made up frames is usually sheet and not float glass. Sheet glass has noticeable surface irregularities and may also have visible inclusions within it. Sheet glass is also more brittle and will break more easily. Art should not normally be placed behind anti-reflective glass as this makes it look misty. If it is essential to do so then the best glass is that which has the texture on one surface only. Cheap glass has the texture on both surfaces. Glass also comes in several transparencies. It is worth taking the opportunity to examine all these options as the clearest dramatically improves the look of the work, although it is much more expensive.
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It goes without saying that, when framing up, the utmost cleanliness should be observed to avoid the annoyance of sealing up only to find that a speck of dust has found its way on to the inside of the glass.

Professionals always use gummed tape to seal the backing board to the frame as this is easily removable and, when wet, can be moulded neatly to the contours of the back of the assembly.
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The hanging hooks are set about 1/3 from the top of the frame. Lie flat fittings should be used rather than screwed eyes. Nylon cord is preferable to wire as it is stronger. The cord is joined with a reef knot (for the sailors and ex scouts and guides among us) and finally the loose ends neatly bound with tape for a professional finish.

Protective plastic/vinyl stops are then placed at the lower corners of the frame to protect damage to walls and to provide some resistance to tilting of the frame.

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