Ray Harm

Taking Care of your artwork

Barn Owl

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Care of Collector Prints ... Quality - Framing - Hanging


    My wildlife prints are of the highest quality that modern printing methods can produce. Some of the earliest prints in the Ray Harm collection, however, were printed before the printing industry had developed inks with a degree of color fast protection. These would be print editions released in the early to late 1960's.
    As more and more color-fast inks were developed, they were immediately used on Harm prints. Today, there are still no 100% color fast inks available in the printing industry, so some care is warranted in the hanging of prints in some environments.
    Light is the culprit. Light has a deteriorating effect on ink and paper, as does age, heat and humidity but especially direct and indirect sunlight. Paper, as well as ink will fade and is negatively effected by the same culprit but in addition can be seriously degraded or damaged by improper matting and framing.
    Paper made from wood pulp (such as used to print newspapers) has a strong tendency to fade, yellow and become brittle when exposed to light, due to the tannin or tannic acid in the wood. Technically, any light, has a negative effect on paper and the more intense the light, the more damage to the paper. Few materials can withstand the power of Ultra Violet light which may in time attack original art, oil on canvas or watercolor on paper. Light is even of serious concern to museum exhibitors which is why most art museums have few if any, windows.
   

Framing:

 Good framers mount collector prints so they can be removed intact. No collector print should be glued, or pasted to a stiffer board or paper. Such "dry mounting" depreciates the value of the print from the collectors standpoint. This applies equally to trimming a print to fit a frame or mat. A framer should be willing to guarantee against such service, although many will offer differing opinions. "Fast Hinging" and "Dry Mounting" practices are widespread. Regardless, knowledgeable collectors are extremely sensitive to proper matting and framing methods in order to safeguard the value and preserve the print in ideal condition.
    A word of caution here regarding high humidity areas of the country. Care must be taken in such areas to prevent waving, mold or stress on a framed print. The print must have room for expansion behind the mat, this should be allowed for in normal matting in any case. A tight dust cover and frame-to-glass contact helps prevent the intrusion of humidity.


Hanging your art:


    Normal light in the home produced by incandescent or fluorescent sources present the least concern when hanging a print. Spot lighting or high intensity flood light begins an increase for concern, especially under constant exposure. Daylight in a well-lit room is fine - it is the Ultra Violet rays of sunlight that are the most damaging, even reflected sunlight only a few minutes daily is to be avoided. Reflected sunlight for example, from a glass top coffee table just a few minutes a day multiplied by the number of seasonal days of occurrence can add up to hours of exposure. One can subtract the product of this multiplication from the life of the print and it's quality.


MAT PAPER:
    Quality of paper used for a mat is important. Since the mat is usually pressing against the print in a frame it is important that the quality of the paper the mat is made of is acid free or of museum archival quality. The quality comes in different grades of acid free protection, so inquire before framing. A low grade of paper in the mat will yellow and bleed onto the print in very little time which devalues and degrades the print.

GLASS:
    Prints and watercolor paintings are usually framed behind glass, primarily to protect the paper from dust (the back should also be sealed with a dust cover). Glass is available in two types, clear and non-glare (also known as non-reflective). The non-glare is made by microscopically fracturing the surface of glass (sometimes both surfaces) with thousands of tiny facets. These facets each reflect light in different directions rather than directly back to the viewer. The intent is to cause a marked reduction in reflections from the sides and from behind the viewer. It works but it does subtract a very small amount of clarity, more so if the viewer is not directly in front of the picture.


Bottom line...

Sunlight is the worst, either direct or reflected and is the reason most art museums do not hang pictures in rooms with windows.


    A framed print should be protected from deterioration from light, dust, humidity and heat. It can be done with knowledgeable framing and a good hanging location. Remember: If a framed collector print, for one reason or another, is to be removed at a later date, it should have been framed in such a way as to be able to remove the print in a clean, unwrinkled condition with no damage from tape, glue or paste.