Mylar mess up on antique Maps


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Jun 13, 2002
Fingerlakes Region of NYS
I just completed a 3 piece project working with antique maps.

I encapsulated these in mylar behind double mats in the frame package with non-glare glass.

The customer brings all 3 back today - not even all the way in the door saying "I love the mat colors, I love the frame, I love the pieces but...."

They do not like the glare of the mylar that is apparent thru the non-glare glass...

So I am redoing all 3 of these for them. They are not concerned with conserving these maps.. they want to enjoy viewing them.

The issue here is the glare of the mylar. Is there a product that is not so shiny that this occurs.. or how does everyone deal with this..

It has me a little upset that I am trying to do the "right" thing but it's not what the customer ultimately wants.

Thanks, Roz
Roz, assuming you're talking about etched "reflection-control" glass, my experience is this:

The stuff does a decent job of softening reflections from an outside light source, but looks awful when used over a glossy material, like a high-gloss photo or Mylar.

Did they want "non-glare" glass 'cause they were concerned about reflections from a window or patio door or because they, or you, were concerned about glare from the Mylar?

If the latter, see how it looks with Conservation Clear.

I'd be interested in whether any one else has noticed this or I just made it up 20 years ago 'cause I don't like non-glare glass.

I'm not aware of any non-glare Mylar. Just make sure your Mylar is as flat as possible with no little dings or creases.
No product recommendations, just sympathy. We had the same thing happen in one shop I worked at. The client had what she described as an old and very important albumen photograph. it had no border and she wanted to see the whole thing. We didn't want to add adhesive to the back so we encapsulated and cut the mat as close to the actual size as possible.

This client was a serious collector and was very conscious of conservation. She said the appearance of the mylar detracted too much from her enjoyment of the piece. It was not very large so we settled on 3L mounting corners which were visible in the finished piece.
I frame a lot of antique etchings from one certain client. On some they wanted regular paper mats because the color was right so we encapsulated the pieces. They didn't like it because of the glare with UV clear, so we put UV Reflection Control on them and they looked better but not great. I gave them the choice of encapsulation or different mats some they left some they changed.
As far as I know, there is no non-glossy clear film -- and I've looked, believe me.

The gloss usually isn't a problem on small, flat jobs. It usually IS a problem on large jobs, especially if the item has texture -- such as folds in a map. In those cases, the clear film isn't flat, and it therefore reflects more.

Because it's clearer than glass, you probably can't see it at all, until/unless you catch a reflection. Drop a piece on a carpeted floor, and you see what I mean.

If the gloss of the film is a problem, find another mounting method.
You mentioned that the clients were not concerned with conserving these prints. So why did you choose encapsulation? Maybe Japanese hinges have been easier? I do Japanese hinges on most things and I rarely run into a problem. What other mounting option did consider? Someone mentioned using mylar corners and I just had some returned the other day that were done 5 years ago. The adhesive on the corners "slid" down the mounting board. It was a first for me. I remounted them with jap hinges.

Best of luck, Nicole
Framer girl,

The original direction was to preserve the maps by encapsulating - but upon seeing the end product, the customer decided the conservation was not that important...

I am now going to hinge!!

Thanks, Roz
The gloss of Mylar is the main reason I have, for the most part, always avoided it.

Sometimes we can take custom framing a little too seriously. We forget that the reason people frame things is to enjoy the aesthetic appeal of whatever it is they are framing.

Going overboard with all these preservation techniques that are being taught nowadays will often times defeat the purpose of framing a picture or object.

I know it is hard to remember we are picture framers, not fine art museum conservatory workers, but the fact remains , we are just that, picture framers.

I agree, mylar has a place in our arsenal of ways to display an object or rare collectible, such as a unique postage stamp, or some such thing.

If a person had a postage stamp worth many thousands of dollars, it is unlikely they would frame it for display. Probability would more than likely, find it in a safe deposit box, rather than on a wall, in a picture frame.

Ask your customers WHY they are framing things, then listen to them. In just about 100% of the time, you will need nothing more than acid free mats, Japanese hinges, four ply rag backing, and a good UV controlled glazing.

We are framers, conservators go through years of training, usually at a university or fine arts gallery. Don't pretend to be something your not, your customers come to you to display their artwork in a reasonably safe manner. They rarely want the appeal of whatever they are framing destroyed by amateur, but well intended, efforts to preserve it.


"here, here!" Thank you. I was just having that same conversation with my husband about this situation.

I do my best to do what is in the best interest of the customer and his/her treasure.


I may be out in left field here (what's new with that? ;) , but has anyone ever tried to spray the outside surface of the mylar with a matte spray? McDonalds makes a great spray used for photos that is matte and has a UV inhibitor. It is called Sureguard (available in photo and camera supply places) and I use it on my portait and wedding photos. It is easy to use, kinda stinky, but I think it might do the trick. Don't know where it would land on the whole C/P scale.

Just an option to play with . . . .
Originally posted by JRB:
...Don't pretend to be something your not, your customers come to you to display their artwork in a reasonably safe manner. They rarely want the appeal of whatever they are framing destroyed by amateur, but well intended, efforts to preserve it. John
Good assessment, John. We should know and respect our limitations.

The classes at WCAF were mostly full this week, and you may have pinpointed why framing education is so popular these days: Framers want to learn more, toward making the right judgements about what they should -- and should not -- attempt.

A framer who decides to avoid preservation framing, realizing he doesn't know enough about it, is probably missing opportunities to extend the longevity of his customers' possessions of high sentimental value. But he probably isn't going to ruin anything.

Maybe the worst-case scenario is a framer who thinks customers don't care at all about preserving their items of high sentimental or monetary value.

Most of us find middle ground in there somewhere. We manage to satisfy the customers' purposes, preferences and budget, and still design in appropriate protective features.
We have all had some very old framing jobs come through our shops at one time or another. The oldest I have ever had was from the early 1700s. The reason I know the age is that the picture was backed with an old newspaper. Interestingly it was printed on rag stock. Except for where the wood backing had burned the pages closest to it, the paper could have been printed yesterday.

The picture was not matted and was directly against the glass. It started it's journey through time, in the north east, Connecticut to be exact, and ended up in La Jolla, California.

The picture was in good shape after over 250 years. Think about this when you are selling your preservation framing.

The materials we use nowadays are going to take some of our work all the way through the next millennium. Most of it will last at least as long as that old picture I re-framed forty years ago.

We do not have to go nuts on conservation framing. We do not have to be conservators. All we really have to do is use the materials properly, that are commonplace and available to us.

Like I said in my previous post, if you use acid free mats, four ply rag backs, Japanese hinges, and UV glazing, that should take care of just about all your conservation needs.
There are, of course, some exceptions, but those are rare.

Originally posted by JRB:
...The picture was in good shape after over 250 years...

The materials we use nowadays are going to take some of our work all the way through the next millennium. Most of it will last at least as long as that old picture I re-framed forty years ago...
"Most of it will last at least as long as that old picture..." You mean 250 years? I think nearly all of what we frame today, without purposeful, designed-in protective features and unusually careful handling, will be destroyed by common environmental hazards in less than 100 years. In my neighborhood we don't see a lot of pre-1900 framed items.

Anything framed 250 years ago, and still in good condition, has significant collectible value, if for no other reason than it's remarkable survival. Those framed items are very rare. Obviously, that one managed to avoid the common hazards of environment and handling that have destroyed nearly all the rest.
Jim. I have another one a customer just gave me. It's a framed print from the middle 1800s. It was printed and framed in Italy. This one did not even have a newspaper barrier. It also is framed directly against the glass. There, naturally is some damage to the print, but it is minor and the print is still a totally viable print today. I have it at my shop if you ever want to come and look at it.

With or without conservation framing, most pictures are pretty darn tough and will last a heck of a long time. One hundred years is an awfully conservative guesstimate. My guess still stands, well over 250 years if acid free materials are used. I honestly believe, based on the condition of many old framed pictures I have handled over the years, that many of todays framing Jobs, if treated normally, will last all the way to the next millennium.

I am not disparaging conservation framing, I'm all for it, do it all the time. What I'm saying is, it is not necessary to go overboard on archival framing and trying to go beyond what is practical to treat a picture or object properly, especially if what you are doing will downgrade the aesthetic value of the completed piece.

The materials we have available today are the best in the history of our industry, there is no need to try and make most pictures we frame, for our customers homes, last more than a few hundred years. I think they would anyway, no matter what we do.

I framed the front page of the Washington newspaper that proclaimed Lincoln's death. That had to show both sides and was destined for UCSD. I did everything I could to make it last forever. including having a paper conservator re- enforce it so disintegration would not occur. That alone cost over $800.00

Like I said, there are exceptions, but they are rare.

John, I'm sure you're right, but only because they didn't have duct tape and hot glue 250 years ago. ;)

I'll bet professional framers, including me, have done more damage in the past 50 years than in the previous 200. I won't bore you by rattling off all the horrors I've seen just in the past week-or-two, but it's enough to make me throw up my hands and say, "What have we done?"

I used to think it would be very cool to be a conservator, but I've changed my mind for the same reason I decided, at age 12, that I really didn't want to be a veterinarian: I couldn't stand to deal with all the carnage.

I'll feel better after breakfast, and just keep doing the best I can.

I'll bet that's what you do, too, and I imagine your best is pretty good.
Thanks Ron, I appreciate that. Jim suggested that environmental reasons are the main reason pictures don't last. I think the main reason is not the environment but more the people who own them. People frame things for their homes, often times spending great deals of money doing so, only to have them be out of date in ten years. These pieces usually end up in the attic or the basement, while newer items replace them.

There was an artist who did serigraphs back in the eighties, can't recall his name. He was an illustrator for Playboy magazine. People spent a fortune framing those things up, usually with wide black lacquer frames and full conservation. They were stylized and dated for the eighties. During the nineties, I would see adds in the classifieds of people trying to get rid of these great collectibles they had paid so much for just ten years earlier.

People live their lives, decorate their homes, grow old, then die. The trust fund kids sweep through the parents or grandparents home taking what they want and leaving the rest for the estate sale. The estate sale usually marks the stuff way too high for it to sell. The estate liquidators offer next to nothing for the house contents and the owners usually accept the liquidation offer. The contents end up in re-sale stores, thrift shops, antique stores and even the occasional gallery. From the thrift and re-sale stores, the pictures, for the most part, usually end up in low income apartments. The next stop is normally the dumpster.

It's not the environment that is destroying the things we frame, it's us, the people who own them that is the biggest threat to them. Sure you don't see many very old pictures. That is because most of them ended up in the city dump.

I agree, John.

A big component of FACTS education involves teaching customers about THEIR responsibilities for the care, transport and storage of framed art.

Often, I'll have someone bring in a piece I've previously framed. Usually it's because they'd like me to match the frame and they don't understand that I have copies of every framing order I've ever written.

Sometimes, I'll look at these old treasures, which might only be a year old, and I want to say, "What have you DONE to this frame??"
Originally posted by JRB:
...Jim suggested that environmental reasons are the main reason pictures don't last. I think the main reason is not the environment but more the people who own them...Sure you don't see many very old pictures. That is because most of them ended up in the city dump.
I think we're axing the same tree from opposite sides here, John.

You say owner, I say environment. But at the end of the day, what destroys framed art is the owner's failure to protect it from environmmental hazards, such as fading from UV light, embrittlement from IR light, moisture from the air, extreme expansion/contraction from temperature changes, oxidation & acid burn from deteriorating materials.

6 of one, half dozen of another.
It's done.

The customer is THRILLED with the final pieces.

I have learned a good lesson as well... but isn't that what life is all about - constant learning!!

Glad that is behind me... now I can move forward!