Picture Framing and Art Preservation/Egyptian Papyrus Paintings

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Question
I read that papyrus paintings can be hung in the bathroom so that the steam would help them to lose the rolled effect. My question is can they be hung permanently in a frame in the bathroom? I have a small apartment and already have my living room & bedroom decorated.

Answer
Hi Cindy,

You're correct, gentle application of humidity and drying under blotters and weight is a great way to flatten rolled or folded documents or artwork. I think a steamy bathroom might be a bit extreme but the general principle is correct, and you can see the process explained by a conservator in this YouTube video from the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo9spQnBjbk

Long term though, the humid environment of a bathroom is not friendly to art. Good ventilation can help somewhat but eventually problems with mold, buckling of the artwork or damage to the framing materials will most likely occur. There are ways that a completely waterproof frame package can be constructed but it's fairly specialized work that not many framers know how to pull off. Having said that, if the papyrus is relatively inexpensive, easily replaced and is something you just want to enjoy there are ways to make a reasonably tight frame that will prolong its life somewhat.

Ask your framer to use a Coroplast backing behind the art and to use a good quality tape to seal the glass around the edges to the backing. That will make it somewhat tight, and using a Tyvek dust cover on the back of the frame will also help reduce the passage of moisture into the frame. Finally, using a polystyrene frame (rather than wood or metal) will give you a finish that will withstand the moist environment better than traditional frames.

Again, these are not absolute measures and I would never advise hanging fine artwork in a bathroom, but this will at least give you a decent amount of protection.  

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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