Picture Framing and Art Preservation/sheepskin


Hi There,
I am framing a very old sheepskin document for a client. We are floating it on a 100% cotten board. I am having trouble with the hinges sticking.They stick at first then once dry if I move the board at all they just pop up. I have tried Linco gummed paper tape, Linco gummed Linen tape and Japanese hinges. None of them seem to hold. I haven't tried pressure sensitive tapes because I know that they are hard to remove over time. This is going in a shadow box and there is no outer mat. What do you suggest to hinge this to the board?
Thank you

Ah yes, it seems like sheepskin/parchment/vellum* are put on Earth to torment framers. They generally are old with historic and monetary value or represent a very expensive education. For this reason they deserve the best care but their nature makes it very difficult to provide that care.

As you have found, it is difficult to get anything to stick to it. That is because of the natural oils in the skin, which is also what gives it a slightly oily or slick feel. It's like trying to stick something to wax paper.

Fortunately I have a few ideas I have gathered over the years from people smarter than me. In order of preference:

1. Instead of using straight starch paste with rice paper hinges, mix the starch 50/50 with Lascaux. It is an adhesive used a lot by conservators for this sort of thing and can be found at University Products or Talas. Just be sure to weight it well once the hinges are applied and let it sit overnight.

My only hesitation is that I would hate for you to go and buy a container of Lascaux for just one job; it's a bit pricey. On top of that I would hate for you to test out new (new to you anyway) methods on a customer's artwork.

2. Forget about adhesives. Instead use a set of rare earth magnets. They are very strong so you would probably only need small disk-shaped magnets about 1/8" in diameter. Glue four to the mat to correspond to the document's corners, lay the document down and then place the other four magnets and the document will be held in place quite securely with no adhesives touching it.

The magnets will show but they are tiny and you could paint them with acrylic paint to blend into the sheepskin. I would also take one additional step and cut tiny circles of one-ply paper to go between the magnets and the document. Lee Valley Tools is a good source for the magnet or a quick Google search will give you a lot of sources.

3. The third option is a direct contact overlay. Now if you go with this option you must use acrylic instead of glass. Cut a piece of polyester quilt batting, preferably needle punched, slightly smaller than the document and attach it to the background mat. Place the document on top of the batting. When you choose your spacers make sure that they are sized so that the acrylic will make contact with the document and compress it against the batting slightly. Then fit as usual.

This method looks great and is very low risk as long as you use acrylic glazing. If the budget allows for Optium acrylic the effect is just incredible.

*There is a difference between parchment and vellum and I believe it has something to do with what animal it comes from. However I can never keep them straight and just about everyone uses them interchangeably, so I don't worry about the distinctions.  

Picture Framing and Art Preservation

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David Lantrip, MCPF, GCF


I can answer questions about all aspects of framing, with special emphasis on preservation framing. Categories of artwork include works of art on paper, needlework, textiles, paintings on canvas and three-dimensional objects. Components of framing includes frames, glass/glazing, mats, mounting, their features and how to select them.


I have been a professional picture framer and educator in the field since 1994, including framing education for a major franchisor encompassing three brands and the Professional Picture Framers Association, and writing and teaching for DECOR Magazine.

Professional Picture Framers Association (PPFA) > Board member, PPFA > Member, Certification Board > Member, Chapter relations Committee National Society, Sons of the American Revolution (NSSAR)

DECOR Magazine, 2005 - 2010 PPFA For Members Only newsletter Member of the PPFA Guidelines task force, assisted in writing PPFA Guidelines for Framing Works of Art on Paper and PPFA Guidelines for Framing Works of Art on Canvas, and PPFA Guidelines for Framing Textiles and Needlework. Picture Framing Magazine, 2012

Georgia State University, many classes as a student and educator through the Professional Picture Framers Association and DECOR Magazine. Current member of the PPFA guidelines task force and certification board.

Awards and Honors
Earned Certified Picture Framer (CPF) designation in 1996, Master Certified Picture Framer (MCPF) designation in 2004 and Guild Commended Framer (GCF) status in 2008.

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