Not so new topic but what should be done?


SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Founding Member
Nov 23, 1997
Mandeville, LA USA
I know this has been discussed to some degree already. However this is a bit different(I think). I just received a bunch of etchings to reframe from a relatively new customer who writes for the local news paper.( I mention this since he could spread the word pro/con about me far and wide,as well as the former Gallery)I advised him and his wife that these lovely etchings had obvious acid burns from Regular mats that were clearly visible in the sealed frames.I advised him that barring a trip to the conservator the best I could do was remove the regular mats and use Acid free and stop the harm from continueing. He agreed after I told him I'd probably need to come in a little closer to the image to attempt to hide the halo caused by the beveled edges of the mats. After he left them I proceeded to open them and was Horrified to discover that the mats were the least of the problems. Some were actually mounted on Cardboard still others were hinged on mats but also ATGed to the mats as well. Still another was mounted on a sheet of Rag Barrier paper and then another sheet was attached to the Paper mats that were used, then this was mounted on Corrogated board as well. I haven't finished undoing the works but here is the problem. The one I just described had a note attched firmly to the cardboard backing that PROUDLY stated:

"Dear Customer
Your Valuable Print has been given the UTMOST Protection in this Custom Frame. It is mounted on Rag BOARD with Rag Paper between the print and the mat Board ; this way your print is PROTECTED for MANY YEARS.
We have used a break-resistant Acrylic in place of glass,which requires special care. Dust with clean damp cloth. wash only with mild soap or detergent and lukewarm water.Use clean ,soft damp cloth ,Chamois or facial Tissue. To remove minor scratches,apply a thin coat of automotive paste wax (not a cleaner-wax combination) Buff lightly with clean cotton flannel or jersey cloth. (never clean with abrasive cleaners, houshold cleaners,glass cleaners,Gasoline or acetone.
And then they proudly afixed their Gallerie's Name t this note ,the dust cover and it is embossed into each print. This Gallery is one of New Orleans more prominent.
The acid burn is unbeliveably BAD. The backs of the prints are almost solid brown accept for the corrigation marks. The over cuts on the mats underside are even is burned into the etching.
Now after this long winded dissertation,and realizeing this work was done a long time ago ,should I a.) say nothing b.)call the gallery and tell them c.) advise the Client to call the gallery after telling them why their prints are ruined.?
The differance here is this is all taking place before any thing is done and should the other WELL KNOWN GALLERY feel responsibale for the damage? And If i seal it up couldn't it look like i caused the problems?
Charles Buddy Drago
Another arguement for opening up all work in front of the customer. I wouldn't bother to call the gallery. They probably don't do things that way any more (or if they do, they plainly aren't interested in changing. It isn't hard to get more education in framing these days) There are many things out there with my name emblazoned on them that I pray I will never see again.
We do a condition report on most customer work and put a copy of it under the dust cover so when the next guys open it up, they'll know it wasn't us who did it....
Buddy, sounds like call-the-customer time. Tell him that you have discovered more extensive damage upon opening the frames and that you would like him to look at what's there with a view to calling in a conservator.

This will make it clear that none of the damage to the prints was caused by you. (Sometimes I'll seal a note to a future framer inside the dust cover explaining what I found and what I did about it.)

No need to mention the other gallery at all. They probably did what they thought was best at the time. We all keep learning.


Edit: I GOTTA learn to type faster. Hi, Ellen, this is your echo.

[ 01-10-2004, 09:11 PM: Message edited by: Kit ]
I'm very interested in Buddy's post - I'm currently in a similar cituation.

Ellen - Kit what do you "print" your note to the future framer on/with? I'm very interested in this approach.

Thank you for all your help.
Hi Buddy,

I think Kit has the right approach - call the customer with a brief summary of the problem, and have them come in to make a decision re conservation or not. Horrible as it sounds, this is bread and butter stuff to a paper conservator.

I wouldn't say a thing about the other gallery, even if the customer complained about them to me. I'd remain non-comittal, and just say that most framers do things very differently now. The customer can draw their own conclusions, and you will maintain your professional demeanor!

Have fun ;)


[ 01-11-2004, 01:43 AM: Message edited by: Rebecca ]
Stop anything you are doing to the customers framed artwork. CALL your customer, ask him to come in and take a look before you do anything else.

Don't worry about the gallery or it's reputation. You represent YOUR customer, not the gallery. If your customer wants to proceed against the gallery, that is his decision.

All your part in this is you opened the frame package and reported the condition to your customer. Remember, this is your customers property, not yours.

Rosalyn, this situation doesn't arise often enough that I have an official form to fill out.

If a lengthy explaination is required, I type it up and attach it to the back of the backing board so that anyone removing the dust cover will see it first thing. I also print up a second copy for the customer.

If it's something obvious like 'Masking tape damage from previous framing' I would just write that in pencil on the backing board near the damaged area.

Either way, I sign and date the notes. It makes me feel like I'm communicating with some future generation of framers.

Rosalyn, Obviously, I don't know what Ellen or Kit do, but when we need to do a condition report, it is done in triplicate and the customer signs it. One goes with the customer, one stays in our records, and one gets sealed with the art. It would state any problems with the art, such as acid burns, creases, soil, etc. Anyone opening up the art in the future would know we were not responsible for the damage.
Basically, I agree with calling the customer and proceed from there. It is a conversation that needs to be had. You will know where to go after that discussion. By any chance, do you know how long ago this was done?

This question just brought to mind another experience. Last summer, the Dead Sea Scrolls were on view in our area. If you remember, these were discovered in the late 1940's. What we saw on view were very small pieces. Many of them were painstakenly pieced together to make slightly larger pieces. Guess what??? They used scotch tape to piece them together. There was even a information about how in the '50's they really didn't know how bad the tape and cardboard boxes were going to be in preseving them. Today, they are using tulle, and other acid free items to try and prevent any further damage. They also use conservation glass.

Framing has changed so much in just the 16 years that I have been in it.
Mat Framer ;Your point is well taken and accepted. However I didn't intend to point fingers or brag that I was better. But the date that this type of work was done (while unknown in this case) is very relavent ,to a point.
It could be argued that useing rag barrier paper as a blocking agent was accepted at one time. There probably was a time when Carrigated cardboard was used as filler also. However to post a note that stated "your work has been given the UTMOST Protection"then to go on to state that the print was "MOUNTED On rag BOARD" only to hinge it to a sheet of barrier paper and then to line the paper mat with the same but not seal the raw edges of the Paper mats and to have hardly any distance between the art work and the ACID/LIGNEN ladden cardboard backing never has been utmost protection as far as I have ever been taught. Further more to hinge the work to the MAT useing LIen tape is a poor choice ,but to also use tabs of ATG as well is just down right ridiculus.
However if they were useing barrier paper to prevent contact with the Paper mats, surely they must have known what harm the Cardboard backing and fillers would do ,even with their RAG BOARD barrier paper seperators.
Granted Framing ,just like a lot of skills "Have Come a Long way Baby" but some things quit being acceptable long before most of us were ever born and this work just isn't that old,nor do I think the gallery is either.
I totally agree that the best way to handle this is to call the client and give them the benefit of what Framing Knowledge I may have and let them decide what they want to do.I just was curious as to what resposibility some felt other big name shops had.
I have heard some cry for the CPF police when certified framers don't do right ,so I was just curious about non-CPF but Renouned shops.I guess a lot of shops may have work they hope will never return,even when they do their best.

[ 01-11-2004, 09:59 PM: Message edited by: BUDDY ]
Hi Buddy -

I think that unless a profession has legal certification, and the teeth to impose offical sanctions (disbarment/withdrawal of licence to practice) an individual can say and do just about anything with no likelyhood of repercussion.

I doubt the CPF organization would disbar a framer for poor practices, and even if they did, it wouldn't affect their ability to practice framing.

I don't know how a professional organization does get that power, (doctors, lawyers, accountants...) but I'm sure framers don't have it. Neither do conservators. Though conservators are begining a certification process, I am sure that even if a an individual did get the boot, they could still practice without the government shutting them down.

Rebecca, how much of the damage on an acid burned print like Buddy described can a conservator reverse? Is the discolored halo there permanently?

We get these in every so often. The prints (etchings) are early Euro tourist art. They are usually from the 20s to the 40s. Sometimes they are glued to cardboard. We usually explain to the customer what's going on with the old mount and matboard and then proceed from there. Those "Antiquarian" mats look nice with old paper.

Most people just like the looks of the print and don't seem too concerned about the longevity. When I mention the possibility of sending it to a conservator they don't seem too interested.
Hi Jan -

It depends on the media and sometimes on the paper type, but yes, usually the matburn and discoloration can be removed or at least greatly reduced. Same with "foxing" - those little brown spots.

Some of the procedures involve "light bleaching", where the piece is immersed in a water bath and exposed to light (variation of the old grass bleaching that was used for linens), or local treatment with bleaches like hydrogen peroxide or sodium borohydride, and then rinsing by floating on a water bath and/or on a suction table.

Rebecca I once again agree .Unfortuneately it must appear that I am always askig for things I know will never happen.
My comment about the CPF police was aimed at those who only cry foul when the Framer has those "initials" behind their name. I have seen the same things done by non certified framers but with much bigger reputations and the concenus is to forgive and forget. (Which is IMHO the best way to handle thisand every cituation like it) But It is always amazing to me that some would have CPFs banned for doing the same or even less.
My original point was what should be the exchange of comments between my client and me and how much should I mention the third party?
I think it was Ellen (A truly great framer) who posted "There are many things out there with my name emblazoned on them that I pray I will never see again. " I was very pleased to see someone else who had the honesty to admitt that they are still learning and as such they may not be completly happy with what they did some time back or even yet.
To hear some critisism of others you'd sware some have NEVER done anything that wasn't strictly according to the BOOK.LOL
"Let He who is without SIN cast the first stone" and "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones". So don't look for any rocks coming from this direction.ROTFWLOL
Charles BUDDY Drago CPF®