Museum Quality Framing
Custom Framing Performed to the Highest Standards
Finished-Corner Gold Leaf, Wood, and Metal Mouldings
99% UV Protection on All Glazings
As conservators of works of art, we are committed to archival, museum-quality framing. We will not frame a work of art any other way. Our niche in the framing industry is to offer our clients the best quality available without compromise. In addition to strictly adhering to the use of archival materials and techniques, we provide superior attention to aesthetic qualities and details.
We specialize in finished-corner moldings. Many framers routinely refer to themselves as custom framers because they simply cut pre-finished moldings to size and join them together. Joel Oppenheimer, Inc. frames are truly custom finished and sized individually for every picture and every client. Because the frames are finished after they are joined, the miter at the corners is not readily visible. The period moldings we offer are exact replicas of antique frames and are constructed of the identical materials and in the same manner as the antique frames were. We also offer a large selection of modern frames, contemporary moldings, floater frames for paintings. Our framing services are available for your works of art and family heirlooms.
How is a gold leaf frame made?
We begin with raw hardwoods that are hand carved, cut to size, spline joined and sanded. The frame is then coated with gesso(a plaster-like material) and a clay layer of either red, blue, black, or yellow color is applied. This clay layer becomes a smooth surface to which the gold is applied and also serves as an under color that influences the color of the final gold finish. Then, gold leaf is applied to the clay surface. The carat content of the gold determines its color of gold. What we refer to as an antique silver finish is actually white gold. Most yellow gold finishes are 22 carat, although desirable affects can be achieved with 12-, 16-, and 18-carat gold. The gold layer is then burnished by hand with a tool that has a small stone head. This laborious process gives the gold finish its unique luster. The gold is then rubbed away to varying degrees revealing the clay color beneath. On a period frame, additional antiquing and distressing can add a final touch.
How is a hand-painted french mat or silk mat made?
A 100% rag (cotton fiber) board is cut to size. The window opening is then cut. Imported 100% rag watercolor paper of a selected color is wrapped by hand around the rag board mat. A design is drawn in pencil on the rag board or wrapped mat. Then, colors for the decoration of each mat are mixed individually using the finest quality watercolor pigments. The lines are drawn with traditional ruling pens. Watercolor washes are applied with sable brushes until the desired color is achieved. In addition, silk can also be wrapped by hand around rag boards. Varying the color of the boards under the silk can achieve subtle nuances in silk colors.
What is archival framing?
Use of an ultraviolet filtering glazing material is imperative to protect a work of art. We offer glass, Plexiglas, and state-of-the-art optically coated museum glass and acrylic, which substantially reduces reflection. All have ultraviolet inhibitors that effectively filter up to 99% of UV light. Behind the matted picture is an acid-free thermal layer, which minimizes temperature differentials. A polyethylene-coated waterproof paper is also affixed to the back of the frame. This offers limited protection to moisture exposure. Spacers are then put on the back of the frame, allowing air to circulate between the artwork and the wall and discouraging mold growth because it permits excess humidity to escape from the frame. Artwork that is framed properly is well protected and can be enjoyed for generations.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is archival framing and why is it important?
Archival framing typically refers to housing your art in a neutral environment that will not harm or change the artwork over time. This is achieved by utilizing pH neutral rag boards made from cotton fiber, reversible adhesives, and UV filtering glazings. All artwork framed at Joel Oppenheimer, Inc. is performed to the highest archival standards.
What is gold leaf?
Gold leaf is extremely thin, square sheets of gold typically measuring 85 mm x 85 mm. It is made of gold varying from 12 carats to 24 carats. Typically the differing carat ratings of the gold are used to control the gold color of the frame. Warm gold tones are achieved using higher carat golds, where cooler gold tones (such as white gold) are achieved using the lower carat leaves.
What is a molding?
The molding refers to the actual frame. These are typically made out of wood, then finished with waxes, paints, or gold leaf. Some moldings can also be made of metal or plaster. Most moldings at Joel Oppenheimer, Inc. are created from wood or metal.
What is a mat?
The mat is the element of the frame that typically houses the artwork. All our mats are made from 100% cotton rag board imported from England. They are pH neutral and will preserve your artwork for generations to come. The ragboard can be decorated with with lines and washes as a “French Mat” or hand-wrapped with silk to create a subtle texture.
What are glazing materials?
The glazing material is the transparent glass or acrylic material placed on the front of the artwork to physically protect the surface and to filter out harmful UV rays before they damage the colors in your artwork. In archival framing, there should always be a UV filtering element to the glazing material. Unlike acidic staining, and moisture damage, pigment fading from UV exposure is one of the most damaging and least treatable condition issues that we see occur on our clients artwork. Using UV filtering glazing materials is very highly recommended. At Joel Oppenheimer, all glazing materials are rated at 99% UV filtering.
I see many audubon prints on your website. Do you only frame Audubon prints?
No! Joel Oppenheimer frames all types of artwork. We have framed everything from Paul Klee to Andy Warhol to Ansel Adams and beyond. In fact, we specialize in highly customized projects for the most discerning clients. Please make contact us to schedule an appointment below if you have a piece you are interested in framing. No project is too big, small, or unusual for us.
I don't know what type of frame to put on my artwork. Can you help?
Joel Oppenheimer is a specialist on all types of artwork and framing materials. We will be happy to work directly with you or your designer to create the perfect framing solution to your needs. We take many elements into consideration, including the period of the piece, the type of artwork, the environment it which it will be hung, as well as your personal tastes. Framing appointments with the owner, Joel Oppenheimer, are always available upon request.