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Caring for Frames, Art, and paintings

 

Take care of your art collection and you'll enjoy it for years

You may a small art collection comprised of signed prints, paintings, or perhaps the frames have been handed down through family members. Here are a few pointers on caring for frames, art, and paintings so they can be enjoyed for many years to come.

Art should never be placed in direct sunlight. Prints and paintings are susceptible to fading and warping from sun, humidity, and temperature fluctuations.

For paintings especially, the varnish may begin to yellow over time and the top layer may become coated with cooking fumes, smoke, and dust accumulation. Amateurs should never attempt to clean a painting and some conservators will tell you that it may not increase the life of the art.

You can dust a painting safely with an extremely soft natural bristle artist's brush. Remove the painting from the wall. Never hold a frame by one edge; always from both sides or from the bottom and one side. Tilt it forward on a protected tabletop. Never touch the canvas with your fingers - wear cotton gloves if necessary to handle the frame. Lightly brush the canvas with the tip of the brush, first in a vertical direction, then horizontally.

If your frames are gilded, wear gloves as the oils on your fingers will degrade the materials. Gilt frames are prone to flaking, so inspect them carefully before dusting. They, too, can be cleaned with a soft, natural bristle brush.

The glass on prints (with the exception of antique glass) can be cleaned with a common household spray. Do not apply directly to the glass as moisture can seep onto the print. Spray a cloth or paper towel first and then wipe the glass.

Over time, some slippage or warping may occur with prints. The warping cannot be repaired, but it can be smoothed out with replacement tape. Over time, the glue in the tape will break down and disappear. For less valuable works, you can remove the backing and replace the tape that holds the print to the mat. Purchase archival or acid-free tape at your local hobby store; do not use masking tape. If the art is in a museum mount, you can take it to a local framing shop and have them replace the backing and tape.

Before re-hanging your art, be sure to test all the parts that hold it in place. Over time, these can work loose and the painting can fall. Inspect the wires for breakage and if single wires are used, consider adding a second support.

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