This is a fair question, and comes up from time to time in my discussions with clients. When considering your framing options, it is important to think of the long-term aging characteristics of the materials used to frame your work of art on paper.
Paper itself ages best in a slightly alkaline state. Therefore, the best framing materials (matting and backing boards) would be high quality archival cotton rag, which is alkaline & will remain so for many years.
You may have seen paintings and printed artwork that has suffered from mat or backing board burn? If not, here is an example:
Due to the acidity of the backing board, the adjacent artwork was “burned” and yellowed by proximity. The acidic degradation products migrated from the mat board into the paper substrate of the artwork itself. Left untreated, these areas of the artwork would deteriorate much more quickly than the rest of the piece.
In the end, all paper-including archival cotton rage mat board-will eventually become acidic. So periodically, a work of art on paper will need to be reframed with new matting and backing board. I recommend every 20 years. This periodic replacement of the mat board within the framing package is the best practice to protect your artwork.
It is also important to be certain your artwork will be hinged to the backing board in the frame with archival materials. NOTE: I DO NOT RECOMMEND DRY MOUNT TISSUE or LINEN HINGING TAPE. I spend a lot of time removing old dry mount attachments.
They can often be difficult to remove completely, and have a tendency to leave stains due to the aging characteristics of the adhesives used in their manufacture. Linen tapes also have adhesives with similar characteristics. From a conservator’s perspective, it is important that the hinging materials be strong and archival, but as reversible as possible. For paper-based artwork, such as lithographs, serigraphs, watercolors, etchings, mezzotints, aquatints and acrylic paintings, I recommend hinging the artwork into the framing package with Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste.
UV-coated plexiglass or UV-coated glass are best to protect your artwork from damage due to light exposure.
So, to summarize, the following are my recommendations for reframing your work of art on paper. Any reputable framer who is well reviewed is likely to be able to assist you with this:
- Use archival cotton rag matboard for the mat housing and backing board.
- Hinge the artwork to the backing boards with Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste.
- Use UV-coated plexiglass or UV-coated glass for the framing package.
Following these guidelines, a reputable framer can assist you with creating an archival & long-lasting frame package for your treasured artwork.