How Can Archival Framing Preserve My Artwork and Lend Elegance to its Appearance?
As conservators of works of art, Joel Oppenheimer, Inc. is 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 detail.
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 originals would have been. We also offer a large selection of modern and contemporary moldings. Our framing services are available for any of your works of art or family heirlooms.
Contrary to the common perception that an object is preserved simply because it is framed, most damage to works of art is caused by improper framing. An adequate air space must be provided between the back of the frame and the wall on which it hangs. In addition, an air space is required between the object and any glazing material. Without provision for correct ventilation, framed works hung on exterior walls can suffer damage due to condensation.
Non-archival matting materials and adhesives commonly used in framing have an acid content. The acid migrates into the art or document causing the characteristic yellowing and embrittlement often associated with aged paper. Ironically, most paper objects made prior to 1865 are inherently acid free and have been damaged through prolonged contact with acidic materials utilized in the framing or storage process. Archival framing is an essential aspect of conservation.
How a Gold Leaf Frame is Made
We begin with raw hardwoods which 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 the smooth surface to which the gold is applied and also serves as the under color that influences the color of the final gold finish. Then the gold leaf is applied to the clay surface.
The carat of the gold determines the gold color. What we refer to as an antique silver finish is actually white gold. Most yellow gold finishes are 22-carat, although desirable effects 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 is the laborious process that 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 add the final touch.
How an Archival French or Silk Mat is Made
A 100% cotton rag board is cut to size. Then, a window opening is 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 mat. Then, colors are individually mixed with the finest quality watercolor pigments for the decoration of each mat. Using traditional ruling pens, the lines are drawn. Watercolor washes are applied with sable brushes until the desired color is achieved. Silk can also be wrapped by hand around a rag board mat. Varying the color of the rag board under the silk can achieve subtle nuances in silk colors.
Framing of Unparalleled Quality
The use of an ultraviolet-filtering glazing material is imperative. We offer glass, Plexiglas, and state-of-the-art optically coated museum glass and museum Plexiglas, both of which substantially reduce reflection. These glazing materials have ultraviolet inhibitors that effectively filter up to 99% of UV light. Behind the matted picture is an acid-free thermal layer, that minimizes temperature differentials. A polyethylene-coated waterproof paper is affixed to the back of the frame. This offers limited protection to moisture exposure. Spacers are then inserted in back of the frame, allowing air to circulate between the artwork and the wall. This discourages mold growth and lets excess humidity escape from the frame. Artwork which is framed properly is well protected and can be enjoyed for generations.