Ripples caused by tight frame
Paper may start out flat, but it rarely stays that way. A stray crease, curl, fold or ripple can easily distort a once smooth surface. For most of the paper in our lives, these flaws scarcely matter. But how do we protect valuable artworks from similar damage? The first and best protection is, of course, prevention. Gentle handling, flat storage (forget those mailing tubes!) and protective sleeves, folders and storage boxes can eliminate most curl, crease and fold problems. These can also help reduce the undulations and ripples which occur when paper expands and contracts with changes in Relative Humidity (RH) and temperature. Artworks on display depend on the framing system for protection. Matboards and backboards buffer the effects of humidity changes by helping to absorb and desorb water vapour, while the front glazing helps block the entry and exit of water vapour. Artworks going into extreme or fluctuating environments can be given additional protection by placing special sheets of silica gel (Artsorb), conditioned to a specific RH, into a sealed framing package. Frames must be large enough to allow the artwork to expand and contract with normal fluctuations of humidity. Raising the front glazing from the surface of the art with spacers or window mats gives paper room to move naturally. Tight frames can cause ripples by forcing the expanding paper to crush into itself. (See illustration). All too often, art on paper is pasted down or dry mounted in an effort to keep unruly sheets flat. At best, the result looks lifeless and dead. At worst, the paper actually pulls away from the restraint, in uneven pockets of separation. When the artist clearly intends the paper to lie flat, less drastic methods than overall mounting can be used. In these cases the artwork is edged or backed with thin Japanese tissue, and the edges of the tissue pasted to a rigid, archival quality backing board. This allows the artwork to move, while keeping it in place. (See illustration). Paper has a subtle, three-dimensional beauty which complements the overlying media, but it is easily marred. Careful handling, storage and display will protect these fragile supports from damage. Edge mounting allows paper to move.
Edge mounting allows paper to move
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