Why Big Box Arts and Craft Stores are Bad for Your Important Art and Artifacts
Regarding displaying your paper treasures, keepsakes and valuable documents, consider that that vast majority of these known Big Box stores hire employees with little or no experience in framing. Our archival framing operation, Museum Framing, as had many people apply to our business over the years looking for better pay and better opportunities from the big box stores.
We require that framers looking for employment here have years of experience in proper and exact methods of conservation framing, archival art handling and other museum application services.
The photograph you see at the top of this blog was framed by a nationally known big box arts and craft chain store. As can be seen, the signatures have all faded completely or partially. Apparently, when I disassembled the frame, I noticed only regular non UV glass was used. Even though it was ordered, the framer neglected to include that all important material in the entire framing process.
Of course, other required materials weren't used which also would have protected the photograph, but none was used.
We could only do so much once the item suffered deterioration. Signatures, colors and appearance can't be restored not matter the restorer's expertise.
When having your important items framed, don't use common regular wood pulp mats, foamcore, nor commercial grade material like brown corrugated for backing. And, certainly don't use regular hardware store type glass!
Many of these items are sold and labeled as "acid free".
The above is an important and rare Revolutionary War dated document signed by Paul Revere in 1779. Before he contacted us, the customer was going to have a well known big box store frame it...until he heard how they were going to mount the item in the mat.
We obtained the famous portrait and had a biographical plaque engraved for the framing. The client was so pleased, he ships us items to frame from his collection half way around the world.
Over the years, I have seen artwork and other important paper objects get adversely affected by improper framing.
As a matter of fact, a stain is usually left on the item where the acidic mat had contact with the artwork.
The most damage with people's artwork I have seen came from big arts and craft stores and internet based frame it through the mail operations.
Of course, small mom and pop shops can and do damage if they aren't familiar with the care, handling and framing of fragile paper, but volume wise, the big guys do the most damage.
Personally, over the years, people have asked me to examine their framed works on paper when they detect a problem or are generally concerned.
Many of these framed works have included dry mounting, taping down or gluing down artwork, using low or no protection glazing (glass or acrylic) and highly acidic materials.
If you are an artist needing paint supplies or doing a home/school arts project, these big box stores are great.
If you have low cost rock posters for a down room or office photos to frame, these mail it and frame it operations are great.
But! If you have something valuable, sentimental or an antiquity item to frame, go to an expert with the knowledge, integrity and expertise to handle them.
It grieves me as a passionate collector to see items get damaged through the ignorance of the framer.