Picture Framing and Art Preservation/Standard Matboard on Photo

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Question
I want to use a Crescent International whitecore matboard (SRM) on a photo.  Is there a thin material that I can put between the photo and the matboard to make it conservation?

Answer
Hi Diane,

I'm afraid the short answer is no.

For the benefit of anyone else who might be reading this, whitecore mats are made from wood pulp treated with bleaching agents and optical brighteners so that the bevel remains white rather than turning an ugly yellow-brown color. They are meant to emulate the look of better preservation-quality mats but at a lower cost. They are not suitable for preservation framing since they still contain lignin that will break down and release acidic byproducts.

Back before cotton and alpha cellulose mats were widely available in a good range of colors we sometimes put a better quality mat under a standard paper mat thinking the separation would be enough to avoid problems. We later found out that mats are so porous that they really provide very little protection from acid migration, especially when we tried to use a 2-ply mat to keep the thickness down.

I suppose you could try putting a layer of aluminum foil under the mat, as metal would serve as a good barrier, but that's just not very practical and does not address the problem of the cut bevel where acid migration is the worst. A layer of Museum Glass between the mat and photo would work but then you have to space the glass away from the photo and then deal with extra layers of material in the frame, its weight and added expense. With all of that added trouble it would be much easier and more cost effective to use a different mat.  

Picture Framing and Art Preservation

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David Lantrip, MCPF, GCF

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

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

Publications
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

Education/Credentials
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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