Far too often framing is viewed as merely decorative; an ornamental addition to artwork which can add to the visual impact of a piece and ground it within its environment. And while this is indeed true, suitable framing also plays a pivotal role in conserving and protecting artwork, acting as an armor against potential damage from exposure to damaging elements such as moisture, dust and light.
The condition of photography, prints and even textile fibers can be maintained safely through appropriate framing and installation. Fading of colors is of course one concern, but yellowing is another unwanted and highly common outcome of light exposure. This is most frequently seen on paper and silk mattes; turning them from pristine whites, to not so lovely shades of yellow.
As you might guess, most light damage originates from natural sources such as the sun’s UV’s, otherwise known as ultraviolet light. However, even rooms devoid of windows can be hazardous to improperly framed artworks, textiles and photographs, and just because items are stored in basements, attics, or artificially-lit spaces, fading and yellowing can be the result of prolonged exposure to UVs emitted from fluorescent bulbs.
Fortunately, prevention from light damage is fairly straightforward and achievable in a few simple steps below
Your first option, (and perhaps the most obvious) is preventing artworks from light exposure by ensuring they are hung on walls in your home that receive the least direct sunlight or fluorescent lighting. Another reminder is to be aware of track or spotlights that project a concentrated amount of lighting directly at artworks.
Be Mindful of Seasonal Changes
Do also keep in mind when installing or hanging artwork that although a portion of your wall may be safe from the sun in March, come April its rays will be rising and setting at a completely different angle exposing your pieces to damaging light sources at a later date.
UV-Filters for Glass and Plexi-glass
Another method to ensure light protection is framing your artworks with a UV-filtering glaze for the transparent portion of the frame. This is available in both glass and Plexi-glass panels, and customizable to any size required. This added barrier will ensure protection from both artificial and natural light sources.
And finally, while sometimes it is too late, and the damage is already done to a piece, restoration is an available option. Our conservators and restorers at Trefler’s are able to assist in any questions you may have regarding an area of concern, and our highly skilled framers can help to ensure your artworks remain safe from environmental damage.
written by Nikki Stracka