Make An Archival Sandwich

Each element in the archival framing process is critical to keeping your artwork safe and healthy for years to come. Here’s what’s required, from back to front:

  • Backing paper/dust cover. For best results, use acid-free wrapping paper or a more rigid paper such as museum board.
  • Barrier paper. This acid-free paper layer helps stop random acidity from entering the frame.
  • Backing board. Acid-free Bristol board or an equivalent provides a rigid barrier to protect the artwork from being damaged from behind.
  • Mounting board. Acid-free foamcore board is a lightweight, rigid material that makes an excellent mounting board.
  • Window mat. Use acid-free, 100-percent rag matboards. If you don’t do your own framing, you may need to specifically request this of your framer.
  • Glazing. Ultraviolet plexiglass or glass works well for framing artwork—they reduce varying amounts of radiation from both natural and artificial light sources. However, UV plexiglass isn’t recommended for some dry media, such as pastel, because the plexiglass holds static electricity that lifts the media.
  • Adhesive seals. To effectively seal your dust cover, try 3M’s double-coated tape No. 415 or pressure-sensitive tape No. 810.

John Kevin Flynn is director of the J.K. Flynn Co., an art restoration and appraisal firm in Brooklyn, New York.

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