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Acrylic ruins lithographs?!?!?

Meghan MacMillan

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Forum Donor
Nov 22, 1999
Baltimore, MD
A client left a beautiful antique lithograph to be framed. I framed it - that's what I do. It's matted and (at my recommendation) glazed with UV filtering, reduced reflection acrylic.

Since placing the order the client has had a conversation with a fellow collector who told him that lithographs must only be framed with glass. "Plexiglas will ruin lithographs."

I'm switching his job to Conservation Reflection Control glass without any discussion. That's not my question. I would like to know if there is any validity to the statement that "Plexiglas will ruin lithographs." Remebering that the acrylic was spaced off the art by matting, was my recommendation out of line with preservation framing practices?

I did ask the client to find out from the third party what the specific concern was.

Any insight would be appreciated.

An opinion:

The ultimate C/P glazing material (of the options that are generally available to framers in the U.S. at a "reasonable" cost) has got to be Cyro Acrylite AR OP-3.

It is inert, water-white, abrasion resistant and filters slightly more UV than Tru Vue CC.

Possibly most important, it is shatter-resistant.

Probably the "fellow collector" was told that by someone who either didn't have ready access to a quality Acrylic glazing product or had had a bad experience with scratched plastic.
Hi Meghan,

What Ron said. Acrylic sheeting is nice and stable. Drawbacks are scratching, melting in fires, and holding static charges.

Some lithographs, (hand made, not commercial photo litho) use a thick ink that will stick to acrylic IF you put it smack up against it.

The myth of "plexi ruining lithos" probably comes from people putting art prints in plastic display sleeves and having the ink stick.
Or maybe they were confused with acrylic being a problem with pastels.
Oh, gosh... I agree with Hanna. It has to be the fact that the ink will stick the the glazing. (But you know that it will stick to glass, as well as Plexi, right?)
IMHO: it's the "reflection control". Ruins everything.

Makes it ALL look foggy.

Now, back to our regular programing.

Glass technicians once perfected a material trademarked "Nothing", it was a completely transparent, non-reflective, uv blocking glass.

They laid it down somewhere in the lab, and haven't seen it since.
Hanna's story reminds me of the old episode of "The Amos and Andy Show" when Kingfish tried to sell Andy stock in his company.

They made 'Invisible Glass'(also the name of the episode). It was one of the funniest things I've ever seen!
As a side bar to acrylic in fires I would like to add my experience with home contents fire and flood cleaning companies.

I have received and seen several limited edition prints that were actually saved as a result of the use of acrylic. As the heat melts the plastic and bowed and blistered the item on the same wall of the fire damaged room with glass will usually crack or shatter from the same heat letting in the dirty fumes that attach to the print.
Yet another myth of the framing industry. Kind of like clients telling me that they use non-glare glass because it protects the work better than regular glass. (where's the little emoticon of the guy shaking his head in frustration?).

This is a perfect instance of confusion that could be straightened out by referencing the FACTS standards and guidelines for the standards. In the glazing standards, acrylic and glass are treated pretty much the same.
Originally posted by Meghan MacMillan:
...I would like to know if there is any validity to the statement that "Plexiglas will ruin lithographs." Remebering that the acrylic was spaced off the art by matting, was my recommendation out of line with preservation framing practices?...
Your recommendation of UV filtering acrylic was a good one. Your customer's advisor is mistaken. Acrylic will not harm a lithograph, so long as it is correctly fitted with the usual insulating air gap. Direct contact would be wrong with any glazing.

Perhaps the collector's advisor was referring to polycarbonate or styrene. Those glazings will become cloudy, deteriorate, and discolor over time, and might possibly harm the art. But not acrylic.

In fact, acrylic is better than glass in some ways. We all know it's lighter and doesn't need a coating to filter the UV; it's in the plastic sheet. But acrylic is also better for color rendition -- equal in clarity to "water white" glass.

Tru-Vue announced at the Atlanta show that they have a new marketing agreement with Cyro. We can buy every Tru-Vue product -- clear, reflection control (non-glare etched), anti-reflection (coated, not etched); with or without UV filtering -- in BOTH glass and acrylic from our Tru-Vue distributors.

Each Tru-Vue glass product is being offered in acrylic. The acrylic will be in more convenient packaging than ever before, too.

Tru-Vue "Optium Acrylic" (reduced reflection) and "Optium Museum Acrylic" (Reduced reflection + UV filtering) are also anti-static. Now we have an acrylic glazing suitable for pastels!