Mounts : Important elements in the picture framing process

About picture mounts : their role & quality issues

Mounts and backing are important elements in the framing process. Visually, mountboards can look wonderful when carefully underplayed beside the work on display, whilst also giving emphasis ranging from fabulous to subtle when required. Mounts are also vital to protect and preserve artwork at the same time as showing it off.

Mountboard comes in a wide range of quality, colours and thicknesses. The super-thick 4.1 mm gives a superbly architectural and modern feel with a deep, sharp wide bevel. Alternatively, mounts can be wash-lined to order : hand painted in watercolour with specific colours mixed for individual artworks. Fabric mounts add texture, and often depth for box framing.

Mount Design

Differing border sizes, colour combinations and textures create infinitely variable, unique expressions of individual taste, and multiple mountboards can be combined to excellent effect.

Experimenting with colour and design shows how the look of an image can be changed; we can ‘spruce up’ an old picture with a fresh clean mount or colour option to suit new decor, or we can go for a timeless, classic mount.

Conservation Framing : Mountboard requirements

Conservation framing requires a mount to meet a minimum quality standard.  It should back the artwork as well as face it.  Any adhesive tapes used in the framing process must also meet a minimum standard and must be applied correctly. There is a high chance that many items framed more than ten years ago, or that are bought ready framed, will have acidic mounting materials. This acid will burn into artwork leaving visible damage, and the process can happen in a relatively short period of time.

Mountboard with molecular traps, which prevent deterioration caused by airborne pollutants, is an option for protecting artwork more comprehensively. To date, Alphamat Artcare is the only board to incorporate these molecular traps, so we stock it in our framing workshop, and use it at every available opportunity.

There are several kinds of mountboard available for use depending on requirements:

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    Level 1: 100% Cotton (Museum) Mountboard

    100% cotton board is traditionally accepted as being Museum standard board. It has no inherent acid present, and so is the only true acid free mountboard. We use Alpharag Artcare, a 100% cotton board which has the added advantage of patented Artcare MicroChamber® technology. This unique technology actively protects your artwork from damage by airborne pollutants.
    You can read more about MicroChamber® technology here.

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    Level 2: Alphamat Artcare

    Alphamat Artcare is a virgin alpha-cellulose board which incorporates patented MicroChamber® technology. It is classified as a Level 2 (conservation) mountboard, however the addition of MicroChamber® technology means it provides extra protection for artwork, so we choose to use Artcare board at every available opportunity. To find out more, have a look here: Artcare Protection.

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    Level 2: (Alpha cellulose) Mountboard

    Alpha cellulose board (commonly termed Conservation Board) is often referred to as being ‘Acid free board’. It isn’t. However, the removal of lignin in the manufacturing process means it is accepted by paper conservators as being safe for conservation framing. The Level 2 mountboards we use are sourced from manufacturers who have committed to the Fine Art Trade Guild mountboard standards. This ensures a high level of passive protection for your artwork.

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    Level 3: White Core mountboard

    Level 3 (White Core) mountboard is also often referred to as being acid free mountboard, which is not true. However, its lower cost price means it’s the board of choice for some framers who may not be aware of this fact. Since Level 3 (White Core) boards only provide short term protection for artwork, we don’t use them.

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    Level 4: Cream Core mountboard

    Level 4 (Cream Core) mountboard is the cheapest board available, and is used mainly by production framers who are working to a price, but who don’t claim to be working to any particular standard. There are no real rules about how it’s made, what it’s made from and what protection it should offer. Once again though, because of the price it is also the board of choice for some bespoke framers. You won’t find it in our workshop though!