SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Mar 25, 2004
Tampa, FL
Just had a customer bring in a large(24x36) acrylic with LOTS of paint on the entire surface (& noticable 'globs' everywhere) on good bond paper. this piece is fairly stiff, due to the bond & the layers of paint, but as with any commercial does not have the tensil strength to stand on its own. I had planned to hinge it but we have a quandry over using glass(spacers or matting) or no glass....any ideas/suggestions??? Should I / should I not use glass on heavy acrylics???
Bill Ward
My rule of thumb is glass or acrylic is required on paper (including mats) and optional on fabric (including canvas and, I guess, canvas board.)

Other ideas will be welcomed with open arms and mind.
I've never seen a painting on paper framed without glazing that looked 'finished.'

Never mind the protection that paper needs...

I'd glaze it. Either matting or spacers would be fine, imho.

edie the happyitsmonday goddess
"Either matting or spacers would be fine" - Edie

Or both.

You may need to add a good bit of space to keep the paint from touching the glazing.

How long ago was the piece painted? Acrylics dry much faster than oils but very thick layers* still need time to be completely dry before you close them up in a framing package.


*Impasto is the word we're looking for but I like the descriptive quality of 'noticeable globs'.
Acrylic paint is an emulsion. Since plastic does
not dissolve in water, the plastic is kept in
suspension with a complicated mix of chemicals.
When the paint dries, the departure of the water
leaves a surface that is full of holes. These
will fill with dust, if the painting is left
unglazed. The painting should be hinged and kept
well away from the glazing, (spacers and matting
could both help, but the mat must be thick enough
that it will not warp into the space created by
the spacer). If the paint touches the glazing,
it can deform and stick, a real problem if it is
sticking to acrylic sheet.

Hugh, from your description, it sounds like acrylic on canvas should be glazed as well.

Is that the case?
The only other option is application of a non-
emulsion varnish that would fill the holes. That
means that the paint film is getting an added
ingredient, but that seems better than allowing dirt to come in. Conservators are aware of this issue, and some may take a more optomistic view. For those who can afford it, the anti-reflective,
static-dispersing acrylic is a good option, especially because its surface is metallic oxides
and not more acrylic.

It's been my experiece that acrylics without glass need to be varnished. Like Hugh said, with a solvent based acrylic varnish. I can see on my old unvarnished paintings that they soak up crud like a sponge and can't be cleaned. All I can do is call it "patina". Glazing of some sort is probably the way to go 'tho you can do without it if it's varnished.(You can charge for that too you know Ron). Of course you have to be careful about the artists' intent but most artists, whether they are working in acrylic or oil, just neglect to varnish their work out of ignorance or laziness. I've seen this many times through the art supply end of our business even by established proffesionals that should know better. Anyway, proper varnish can be removed if it comes to that, 'tho you probably would just asoon stay away from that one.
I posted an example of a small acrylic one time that you could find in the picture frame design archive under the heading "Midas Touch". It was done without glass originally. In fact even the paper is peeled away leaving only the paint film (which is varnished). Museum glass was added later for exibition purposes but I still preffer it without.
The kind of careful observation that Terry's post
demonstrates is a great example of how framers can
contribute to the cause of preservation, in general. Often, framers may see more examples of
problems, especailly those involving display, than
some conservators might. The framer is also more
likely to see the problem "in situ" and thus be
able to draw useful conlusions. Unframing is our
greatest class room and the lessons we learn, there, must be shared.

seldom fails to WOW me about all the available talents/knowledge out there in never-never land!!! thanks, again, everyone W.W.4051
A couple of years ago one of my good clients did a series of oils on paper because she was travelling. She insisted that they could be framed with floater frames the way we frame her oils on stretched canvas. She said that she had seen Corots on paper in museums framed without glass. She would not take no for an answer.

Hugh advised at the time that perimeter hinges could be attached enabling a full mount that was reversable. I was not experienced with perimeter hinging and so I referred her to a conservator for that part of the job. The conservator did one with japanese paper perimeter hinges which were then pasted to a Tycore substrate at his recommendation and my client's agreement. Well, she hated the look of it! The paper wasn't flat enough for her and she thought that the sides looked really messy.

The way I finally satisfied her was to paste her paintings to a very fine portrait linen which I had mounted to untempered masonite using Beva Film. We were able to attach a strainer to it and stretch the linen over the sides, frame it with the floater and she was happy. I told her I did my best to reduce the problem of differing rates of expansion and contraction but that it was unorthodox and if it didn't hold up, "Oh well, I told you...."