“The horrors which can lurk behind a picture’s seemingly innocent window mat” – Rebecca Pavitt
A customer came in the other day with a number of limited edition prints and original artworks that have suffered damage from the materials that were used to frame them. The prints have the outline of a brown line- appearing as though someone has spilled coffee on the edge of the paper, and allowed it to make a ring around the opening of the mat. This is what is referred to as ‘acid-burn‘.
The acid-free materials that are most commonly used today were not always available. It is only the last few decades that acid-free paper has been widely available for framers and artists. The prints the customer brought in were framed sometime around 1979, and each print has varying degrees of acid-burn. Some are discoloured more than others, which may be a result of a number of variables – such as humidity and temperature.
The prints were also damaged on the reverse side. Cardboard was used as a backing, and you can clearly see the markings of the corrugated lines that were touching the paper. Cardboard is a very acidic material, and whenever possible, should be avoided when framing artwork. At Framagraphic we mount your artwork in a manner where there everything that touches the art is archival and acid free.
We contacted Rebecca Pavitt, a conservationist whose clients include the Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver Art Gallery, UBC Special Collections, along with a number of private local galleries. We are looking forward to seeing how her treatment will work for these prints.