Framing Question!


Jul 2, 2004
Hi All,

I have been searching the web for an answer to a question and am hoping someone here can help.

I took a hand embellished serigraph on canvas to local framestore this week to be framed. It is fairly valuable by a popular artist (Zamy Steynovitz). The framer strongly discouraged me from stretching the canvas, saying the paint would eventually crack and recommended cold mounting instead. I inquired if this would hurt the value of the piece and she told me it absolutely would not. I thought about this overnight and realized that the piece was numbered on the verso so started having second thoughts. :confused:

I called the shop, but they had already cold mounted it and said it is permanent. She says that all the materials are archival so the value of the piece is not affected, but now I am concerned about the numbering that is now permanently hidden. The little bit of information I can find on the web advises NEVER to dry mount anything of value. I'm not sure if cold mounting and dry mounting are the same thing, but I am concerned my piece's value is diminished greatly. What are your thoughts on this?
Thanks so much in advance for your advice and comments.
To dry mount or cold mount any orginal art is a big NO NO, to keep value in a orginal piece of art we as framer can't cut,mount or do anything to the art that is not reversible. I would not be pleased with the frameshop that did this, I would ask for it back the way it is and take it to a certified conservitist (I think I spelt that right)to see what can be done. At the sametime I would let the shop know that this is going to be done at their cost, be it repaired or replaced.
Thanks, Sammy, for your response.

This is the answer I was afraid of. Dumb me also paid them up front. When I called today, she made a big deal of mentioning the frame had already been ordered and was being delivered today. I feel a bit bullied but also stupid for not knowing better.

This frame shop is attached to a gallery, I had my doubts from the beginning about the mounting, but since they are part of a gallery, I figured they would know. One of these days I will learn to trust my instincts.

I wonder if conservitists will be listed in the yellow pages? I am not sure even about replacing this piece...the artist is no longer living and the edition was only 150. I have no idea how I would establish the value either.

Thanks again for your response.
It certainly is no excuse but I wonder if the people who cold mounted it are just giving up on stretching giclees.........lots of us have had trouble stretching those and keeping them taut. Due to the way they are produced I believe. I know I am now leery of stretching art on canvas that is not painted.

The industry that produces works on canvas need to establish an accepted mounting procedure or create an artificial canvas that doesn't need to be stretched so we can frame it without reservations and the art loving public and enjoy it without ripples.

But that being said, any good framer would have advised you of that option first. Hopefully whatever procedure they used will be reversible without harm, although I can't imagine what they could have used that would be reversible.....

Good luck!

Thanks so much for the site. I will see if I can find someone there. It appeared at first search to be only UK conservators, but it might just be the link I clicked. I am in Detroit. I will go back and try some of the other links on the site.


Yes, I agree with you, there should be procedures set by the industry that produces works on canvas. This one, however, is not a giclee. It's a serigraph. I'm not sure if they would pose the same issues.

The procedure as she explained it to me had to do with a piece of tissue placed between the canvas and the mounting board...dry and no heat. She said the boards used for stretching canvas have acid and would be bad for the print, plus the paint would surely crack. When I said, yes, but boards have been used as stretchers for hundreds of years, she said that that was why paintings were falling apart and cracking. She said technology had changed all that and this new technology would not damage the value. She did tell me today when I tried to question...too late...that it is irreversible. Sigh. I am just sick. They have my money and my serigraph and are insisting that this has not caused harm.

I so appreciate the willingness to share your thoughts and wisdom.

I think we are throwing one of our brethren under the bus
You may have said it first, but I want first dibs on pushing first.

I think I would also start opening a file with the Better Business Bureau. They may not be members, but then if anyone inquires, it's on file. They gallery/framer will also be notified as well which will lend weight to your suite when you file in small claims when or if noone can "unmount" the piece.

best of luck, and may I appologize on behafe of our industry and craft.


You know I almost didn't post because I figured that no one would tell me the truth...The Brotherhood Of Framers...or something like that. I am so glad I posted. You guys just confirmed what I knew in my gut, and I really needed someone to do that so I could go in sure of myself and deal with this. I already confronted her once but ended up backing down because she sounded so sure of herself. My faith is somewhat restored by the response I have had here.


I am going to take your advice. I am not wanting to rake anyone over the coals or ruin someone's business. I am just distraught that I finally talked my husband into starting to collect a few nice pieces and while he was away, I took one of them to the framer's and had it ruined! I don't want vengeance, but I don't want to lose my investment either.

Shelly, I'm sorry to hear that you are having such an unpleasant experience framing your serigraph.

I'm not going to argue one way or the other about anything anyone has said here.

But there comes a time when the milk has been spilt and you have to decide what you want to do about it.

I'm assuming that you purchased this piece of art because you liked it, because you enjoyed looking at it, because you wanted to have it in your home.

Only you can determine whether your enjoyment of the piece will be lessened because it has been mounted and may have decreased in re-sale value.

You may decide to consult a conservator about having the piece unmounted or you may decide that you can love it the way it is.

Either way, I hope you won't let this experience sour you on the art itself. That would be a shame.

shelly, Kit is right. If you bought the piece to enjoy forever; just enjoy it.

If your husband bought art as a part of an investment stratagy for you two to retire on; get thinking about a new husband.

Yes you can sue the heck out of them.
Yes you can cry over spilt milk.
Or you can learn from your experience, AND find an honest framer who knows their "stuff".
AND MOST IMPORTANT: you now know about the grumble, so ask questions, cuz we have answers. Probably have more than a few thousand years of experience between us all.

Hi Kit and Baer,

It's morning now, and I'm feeling calmer.

I really didn't come to cry over spilt milk. I wanted to know if what I suspected was valid. Which has been kindly confirmed. (thank you everyone) And I wanted a few suggestions as to a course of action. (thanks again!)

Now for the art as enjoyment, art as investment thing....

If you had a lovely diamond ring that you loved, perhaps it had a tiny flaw SI diamond, and you took it to a jeweler to be sized and he replaced your diamond with a perfect, larger and more beautiful cz, you would be mad as heck at that jeweler!

Now if he told you, "well...did your husband buy it as an investment or because it looked pretty on your finger? Just love it because it looks even more beautiful now!" and then..."If your husband bought it as an investment, think about getting a new husband!"

;) Don't you think so, Baer?

(actually my husband is in Germany and I took this to be framed to surprise him when he got home...this was not the type of surprise I had in mind! He is such a sweet, hard-working man, I wanted to do something nice so he would have a nice homecoming...paint the dining room and put up our new piece!)

It is quite legitimate to want a beautiful piece just because it is beautiful and ALSO want it to have value in the marketplace. Otherwise, we would all be buying plate signed pretty pictures from the discount stores. We were hoping at some point to trade up to an original. Perhaps it would never happen, but perhaps it would.

I bought this piece on auction. I have contacted the person I bought it from. I know he had more than one (different numbers of course) at one time. He was selling them for a non-profit organization. He doesn't know if there are more, but he is going to check for me. (It wasn't too expensive from him...Parkwest Gallery could probably get it too as they carry this artist, but theirs would cost several thousand as opposed to 300-500) Keep your fingers crossed for me. Perhaps the frame shop can help me replace it if the auction guy has another.

You guys are wonderful. Thank you again!
Before we condem the frame shop I think we need to think about this a little.

We don't really know that mounting this item was or wasn't the best thing for the piece of art. We have not seen it.

We don't really know what the art piece was. It was described as a embelished serigraph on canvas. Well I don't think I have ever heard of a serigraph on canvas.

If it indeed is a embelished serigraph (which I doubt) or maybe even a embelished giclee. Why was it embelished not stretched??

Doesn't the Artist have some respouncibilty to handle the art work correctly?

Also the customer agreed to have it mounted by the framer and agreed to the custom framing.

And lets talk about value.
As far as I am concerned the value of the art was effected or destroyed when the artist or his agent emblished the serigraph or giclee and either not stretching it before emblishment or after. Not when the framer used his best judgement to present the art work to be framed for the customer to enjoy.

Why is it always the fault of the framer and not the artist and or owner to the condition of the art?

Back to value. What did she pay for the piece $100? or $5000.00? If it was $5000.00 thats significant and if she paid that much for an "investment" Should she responsible for finding out what is correct framing, or correct presentation of the art work(receiving it unstretched. You would not invest $5000.00 in the stock market without doing some investigation would you?

Sorry for my ranting and bad spelling but I am tired of everything always being the framers fault. We are not magicians and the customer and the artist also have responciblities too.
I thought about this overnight and realized that the piece was numbered on the verso so started having second thoughts.
This is why I always wait 2-4 weeks before I even THINK about starting a new project.

It's a cooling-off period. :D

Thanks for the reminder, Bill, that we are only hearing one side of the story. Maybe we'll delay the lynching until all the facts are in.

The important thing is that there ARE lazy, ignorant and inept and even dishonest framers out there (and this may or may not be one of them) and the industry as a whole doesn't condone their behavior.
Well said Bill! That is what I was trying to politely point out in my post above. Quite possibly the framers knew it wouldn't stretch well and used an alternate method. It is hard to know how to handle so much art these days.

Plus, she had to go and mention Park West......don't they do the cruise art we are so particularly fond of?....and haven't they been sued for misrepresenting their art?

This could be a good example of a thread we had a couple months back on if to advise the customer about the value of their art.

But, if things went down the way she said they did I still think the gallery should have informed her of why they needed to cold mount it and explained the loss of value. I'm sitting on a good example right now in my shop. A customer returned a giclee because it rippled, I have reworked it and showed her that it is once again taut. But, I also started the thinking process by telling her we may have to go to an alternative mounting if it continues to get wavy and that it would change the value of the piece.....I would never do that without the customers complete understanding.

The art industry seems to be failing us with some of these works on canvas. It is making us look bad because our framing fails. I agree with Bill, let the artist mount these and embellish these and let us framers just frame them.....
Serigraphs on canvas were fairly common prior to the Giclee process being introduced. It was a way to extend an many on paper, and so many on canvas. They were often hand embellished. The responsiblity for stretching often fell to the framer since it was much easier and cost effective to ship these rolled. Stretching instructions were often included by the publisher.

Art being sold as an investment is a hot button topic with me. There is a concise Latin phrase for those buying art as investment...caveat emptor.

As far as I know there is no such thing as an archival cold mount
It’s not at all clear what the right way to treat prints on canvass is. See this old thread;f=1;t=004241#000000
to witness the lack of consensus on the part of artists, galleries framers, and conservators.

Maybe you could leave it mounted and get a letter of authenticity from the art dealer? That way it wouldn't matter that the number is on the back.

Also, prints that have been hand embellished may not age well, because the printed inks are different than the brushed-on ones, and are likely to fade differently. You may want to do more research before buying art for investment. Traditional materials and techniques have stood the test of time.
I remember Vivian Kistler saying she once cold mounted original Ansel Adams photographs as a perfectly acceptable procedure.

Did that procedure significantly reduce the value of those photographs. I'll bet that many would scream bloody murder

Oh, yes, if I remember correctly, the client asked for thm to be done that way.

And, guess who the client was?

Some journeyman trying to save a buck or two?

No, it was Ansel himself

At least that is the way she told the story, if I remember correctly.

Okay, who wants to throw Ms Kistler under the bus
If I may?

We have a post on here about "thinking like a customer." We have a real true (and unfortunatly blue) customer right here right now. She did get the answer to her question. Then we started to tell her that what she wanted might have not been what she wanted??????

If I understand this situation correctly (and I do). She wanted to look at this and have it maintain it's value. These two can't be done effectively but we shouldn't we try? After all she is the one with the money!

Joyfulartist, if I were the framer and I said, "Well for looks we could permenatly mount this, but that would diminsh its value. There are some other things we can do to compromise would you like to discuss that?"

What would you have said? I think I know the answer.

Will Rogers said "never miss a good chance to shut up." I think if your framer had done that you wouldn't be having this problem right now! I will do that now and let you respond!
"Oh, yes, if I remember correctly, the client asked for thm to be done that way."

She shut up and did it. Job well done Vivian. Im quite certain he knew what he was asking for! As far as I'm conserned shes in the bus not under it.
Hi All,

As a buyer in the market, I am seeing galleries and collectors buy the serigraphs unmounted...sometimes buying several to hold until the edition is sold out and the price goes up.

I do have a COA stating that this is an embellished serigraph. For what that's worth...I'm aware there is fraud out there. (I did not buy this from Park West...I just mentioned that they carry works by this artist)

You are right, I do have some responsiblitily, however, framing is not my area of expertise, that is why I was willing to pay someone $450.00 to do it for me. I DID question the framer about the mounting and how it would effect the value. She said it "absolutely would not effect the value" and I DID at first say no, I would rather have it stretched anyway. She then launched into again the reasons why stretching was not a good idea because the paint might crack and again, stated that mounting would not effect the value. I then agreed to the job, you are correct, and she said it would take about two weeks. (geez...they would have to hurry through this this time!)

I agree I have some responsiblity to research...I should have done it quicker, but I thought I had a couple of days at least since they said two weeks.

Ok, that said....the framer is a professional. Regardless of how much I paid ($500 BTW), I think to say the owner should be "responsible for finding out what is correct framing, or correct presentation of the art work" is a bit much. That is why you take your art to a professional, is it not? Of course it's not always the framer's fault...I think in this case they bear a big part of the responsibility. In the future, though, I will handle it as I do a diagnosis or prescription from a doctor I don't know well...research it myself first.

I understand what you all are saying about the problems with displaying the canvases. If it had been handled as Kathy is handling her customer, I would have been very happy. That is extremely appropriate. Good for you, Kathy.

I was pushed (this gal was very confident, outspoken and well, yes, pushy), though, to do something and not informed that it would effect value. In fact, I was assured repeatedly that it would have NO adverse effect. Yes, I should have researched...and followed my gut instinct in the first place. I had a niggling little voice in the back of my mind telling me not to let them do this, but it was over-ridden by another self-doubting voice that said "they are the professionals here" (really I am not a nut hearing voices...really) If I hadn't had some doubts, I wouldn't have come home and started looking on the internet. You can bet I have learned some lessons here.

Bill, it's not always the framer's fault...I don't want to be lumped into the category of a problem customer any more than you want to be lumped into inept framer category. I am pretty sure there is no one here who would have handled this the way this gallery did just from reading these posts and others on the board...BTW, you guys are a very funny group. (funny as in comedians...not funny as in weirdos! :D )

I can see how you would start to get uncomfortable and feel like you are lynching a fellow framer. (I am a business owner too. In my business there are many unique problems and customers who have the power to do lots of damage if they are so inclined. I would tend to want to commiserate with other people in my business.) I am just using the info I get here to form my own conclusions...I am not about to go off ranting and sueing someone without getting some facts and thinking hard what would be fair.

I think Kathy is also right in that we need more information about the works on canvas definately. Where to get that, I'm not sure, but I will be looking...found you guys didn't I?
If you have never taken a class by Vivian-do it. She might be the most entertaining educator on the circuit
I'm amazed at some of the respones to this post, I can't believe that we have framers on the grumbles saying that we are just framer and we should not be responsible for the out come of what we are framing. A customer comes to a CUSTOM picture framing shop to get thier, specail something professionally framed, we as CUSTOM picture framers should be very knowledible in the framing and finishing of any type of art and if we don't have the correct knowledge to do this then we should be educating our selves to do so or saying sorry I'm not able to correctly frame your specail piece of art. If we are to last out the big box store then we have to be professionals at what we do,and have our customer know the difference. Maybe there is some well educated custom picture framer in Detriot that would like to offer their professional framing service to Shelly.
Yes I do understand there is two sides to every story but, when any customer comes into your store you will always give them the benifit of the doult.
I posted before I saw your link. I am in the middle of packing a bunch of orders etc and checking the board and responding in bits....I'll read that link and come back after I've been to the post office. Thank you!
One thing I'd like to point out that hasn't been mentioned is that many states have a waiting period that a shop doing any kind of custom work has to hold the work for before proceeding to allow the customer to change their minds. In Wisconsin, it is 48 hours. Even if your state doesn't, it's probably a good idea to have your own shop waiting period in case of buyer's remorse. It sounds like the shop not only didn't wait but went ahead and mounted it right after receiving it. Never a good policy unless it is a rush order.
Oh oh.

Is a framing order a legal contract, subject to a mandated cooling-off period?

If a customer places an order on Wednesday morning and I'm placing a weekly chop order on Wednesday afternoon, should I wait a week for next chop order in case she changes her mind?

Despite my previous smart-a** comment, I will frequently mat and mount and cut glass within hours of receiving a new order. If I have to order chop, the whole packaged is wrapped and waiting in a flat drawer ready to fit when the chop arrives.

My disclaimer on my price quotes says . . .

(I had to go look and see what it says)

"Orders may not be canceled or modified after work has begun or materials have been ordered."
I have checked out the link about handling canvas prints...very informative, thanks. I see why it is difficult.

I have another question then for you guys. I think it is still kind of on topic so I will keep it in this thread. I have another rather large embellished serigraph by Tarkay. This one is on linen, I believe. I purchased this one already stretched on the secondary market (COA is from Parkwest, though). This piece is sagging a bit and I was considering having it restretched or using the little things that wedge into the corners. It is a gorgeous piece and I paid significantly more for it than I did for the Steynovitz. ($1,700...Parkwest is selling this edition for $5,500) Any good advice and/or opinions? (other than don't buy this stuff! cuz I already did, so now will need to make the best of it!) It's not too bad right now, but is noticable and I assume it will get worse.

I also need to frame this any framers in the Detroit area (I'm in West Bloomfield) I need a good framer!
I have this large one and two small Picot original oils that need to be done still...if any one would like to tackle this, I will have these plus my own work to frame. I promise not to be a pain in the a** customer other than buying the occasional difficult to frame piece!
If by big box, you mean a Michaels or some place like It was a shop devoted to framing and they also have a small gallery and sell art.
Humidity changes from winter to summer might be your problem. Yes a stretcher can be "keyed" if it was stretched on stretcher bars rather than strainer stock.

Give me a call. I will be in the shop til 5:30 today.
I can vouch for Jerome. I have met him (at least twice) and he actually exists. Plus, I believe he knows what he's doing.

Now, somebody needs to vouch for me.
Yay, Jerome!
Thanks for talking to me. You will be seeing me in your shop as soon as I get this one under wraps.

We have an artist who routinely makes unsigned or numbered canvas ink jet (ok, giclee) prints of her paintings, which we promptly cold mount. It's a reproduceable, one-of-millions, ink jet print. The substrate is irrelevent.
That's a totally different animal. Signed, limited edition serigraph as opposed to an unsigned, not limited, giclee. I have glued children's art to posterboard. Not the same thing.
I heard about the law I was referring to from several other photographers I know who had customers cancel within 48 hours. They had to refund the customer's money even though they had already sent the order to the lab. One photographer even consulted her lawyer on this issue and was told that, yes, that was the law.
I will give Jerome the thumbs up also…..not only has he help me develop my business…he has also come to see me in Ireland, he has been a wonderful source of encouragement and has invited me over to his workshop to get some hands on training and experience of work I’m hoping to do…….he is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to art and framing….

Shelly my heart sank when I read your first post….I will make no excuses…..other than perhaps in ignorance the framer did feel that what she has done is the best method…though I would find that hard to swallow……perhaps it was when she last updated her education….there is virtually no circumstance in which I could condone what she has done to your piece of art…and to do so would be disingenuous ………..

I truly hope your confidence in the framing community is been restored by what you are learning here…

The following two sites have some useful information for the consumer about choosing a framer.. The Professional Picture Framers Association FACTS Fine Art Care and Treatment Standards……this is quite a technical site but it does have some consumer information.
I heard he was a serial killer......or was that you? I don't remember!
Jay, not serial killer - axe murderer.

Get your facts straight before you post, okay? You could damage someones reputation.

A note of explanation to Shelly: Normally we are serious and business-like here, but around the holidays, we get a little punchy.

Arbor day was a real hoot.
:D Yeah, I can tell from the other posts on this site that you guys are a real no nonsense bunch...

The ppfa site is pretty restricted for non members..."access denied" on most anything I click

The artfacts site is awesome. Wish I had found that before this happened. Thanks for referring me there.

Ireland! I want to come visit you too! My hubby called a bit ago and he and his boss drove to Switzerland for the weekend. He was walking around the mountains today. Did I say he was a sweet...I meant to say he was a twerp!
naaah, I'm just guys are fun, but geez, hard to compete with that.

I haven't told him about the art yet. I don't want him to worry while he is on his trip. Heck, maybe I'll just seal up the back and he will never know. I'm a lousy secret keeper, though. drats.
Don't worry joy, I'm a memeber and can't seem to access any of the information either!

You are correct…about the PPFA site it is for the most part now a days a site for members (Membership in the Professional Picture Framers Association is open to any corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship engaged in the picture framing or art business or business with related supplies or services) of the PPFA only….the consumer can access some of the site to find a framer…

……....from the home page go to the “PPFA Membership Directory” there you can search by Business activity, State or Country find a framer….

I’m sorry for steering you wrong about “Consumer Information” on the PPFA site….if memory serves me correct…there was something on the site a few years ago for the consumer, I would expect the PPFA are working on a consumer page for the web site…… which is an ongoing work in progress for them……I had an email from one of the people at the PPFA last week and one of her comments was that the web site is constantly under review and updating ……

The PPFA has gone through some changes over the last few years putting its emphasises on the framer and how they can become more professional and technically competent, conducting education not only in the business aspect of framing but by broadening the methodology training for the framer…

Like Jay…there is some glitch which is blocking me having full access to the PPFA site at present……I just need to make the time to get back to the PPFA and resolve this issue…..the lack of access as a member is in action on my part……any time I have contact the PPFA about something or a problem I have had the issue dealt with almost by return……
Originally posted by joyfulartist:
...BTW, you guys are a very funny group. (funny as in comedians...not funny as in weirdos! :D )
Nah, most are funny 'weird'.

I will personally vouch for Ron. I actually met him in Atlanta a coupla years ago. Wait, or was that my evil twin that met Ron? Or, could it have been RON'S evil twin????

Dermot is NOT an axe-murderer.

Whew!!! I hope that clears everything up...
"Dermot is NOT an axe-murderer."

Naw, the worst he has ever done is a hatchet job. Hehehe
I know this is wishful thinking, but I'm just brainstorming...

It's my understanding that you can pretty much do anything that has the artist's approval right? The taboo is, in addition to using unsafe techniques, altering an item without the artist's approval so that it's not exactly the same as when it left the artist's hand. For example many photographers prefer to have their work permanantly mounted to protect the corners. So, because the artist wants it this way, the mounting becomes a permanant part of the artwork. (I've also read that some, surely not all, conservators encourage mounting for the same reason.

So, wouldn't it be great if art supply stores and photo supply stores sold tearpads of some sort of form that had a checklist of techniques the artist would approve for framing? The artist could check off the techniques they don't have a problem with, sign and date it, notarize it, whatever, and sell it with the art. This way, the artist takes some responsibility for the framing and the framer is off the hook. The form would be included with the framing package just like a Certificate of Authenticity.

I know this all sounds like a dream but the 2 industries need to cooperate. If such a form were endorsed by museums or orgs like the Art and Framing Council, perhaps it would become as widely used as Certificates of Authenticity. The fact that artists would see the availability of these forms in supply stores might make them realize that they need to have some degree of responsibility for their art after the sale.

I really believe colleges need to include this type of general framing/conservation education in their art programs. Not hands on education! I wanna keep my job! But a classroom discussion education. Besides, if they're more aware of everything that goes into framing, they might not complain so much about cost and wouldn't be so inclined to frame their own stuff.

It all starts with a dream, right?
Auto and home loans are protected by a "3 business days" federal rescind (Truth in Lending) law. There are similar laws for door to door salespeople.

I've never heard of a 2 day law for framers though