Ok this has been asked, but...

stud d

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Jun 17, 2003
next too you
This was sent to me by Decor E-tips. Is this right Hugh and Rebecca or what? I thought we said it was good to cover the back of paintings. As long as it is dry? Tell me what I am forgetting...Hugh forgive me, the notes from the framing class are around , but not under my nose at the moment.

7. The back of a framed oil painting should not be sealed with paper. It should be open to air circulation, but at the same time be protected against possible damage. Corrugated cardboard is not strong enough and hard fiberboard, such as Masonite, has been found to be too brittle to afford good protection. For small and medium-size paintings, a sheet of heavy chipboard may be used, providing the board has been sealed with varnish or shellac to prevent moisture absorption. For larger paintings, a thick plywood called doorskin makes an ideal protection. It is light and extremely resilient. Several holes of about ¼" in diameter may be drilled into the board near the top and near the bottom to ensure adequate air circulation behind the painting. These holes may also be covered on the inside with some gauze or cheesecloth to act as an air filter and to prevent dust from seeping in. Hard rubber bump-ons placed at the bottom behind the frame will also contribute to better conservation in allowing free access to air between the painting and the wall
Patrick Leeland
I'm sure Hugh or Rebecca will be along shortly to tell us again what the current prefererred materials and methods are- as you said we have discussed this recently. The paragraph you quoted strikes me has having been written about twenty years ago, when DECOR was better but the state of the art was worse.

P.S. If you examined the government's most super-accurate high resolution satellite imagery of the whole country, I doubt you'd see even one framer out there shellacking a piece of chipboard.
Quoted from an MCPF who shall remain nameless:

Some of you who get Decor magazine's email newletters or subscribe to the PPFA online exchange may have seen some of the tempest about whether an oil on canvas needs to breathe or not.

To cut through the confusion, a canvas DOES NOT need to breathe. When you are fitting a canvas, add a rigid board such as foam board or, particularly on smaller pieces, a piece of mat board. This will provide protection from punctures or dents from the back as well as provide a buffer to reduce vibrations.

In addition to the backing, use a dust cover. If nothing else, it will hide the mechanics on the back. More importantly it will seal off the back, preventing dust from entering and insects and other vermin from setting up home. And no, do NOT cut "ventilation holes" in the backing.

For the definitive and most authorative discussion of this matter, Hugh Phibbs wrote a thorough article debunking the breathing painting myth in a recent issue of Picture Framing Magazine.
Ya know, when I read it it made me wonder exactly where they are getting these "E-tips" from - the vault? And no wonder it is confusing - sometimes the tips are spot-on!

Who is in charge of those things, anyways???
Just for anyone who can't access HH and I hope Vivan doesn't mind me printing this in her stead,I thought these comments by her would clear up a lot of misconceptions about the validity of those E-Tips mentioned on HH.:

Date: Tue, 8 Nov 2005 08:51:52 -0500
From: "Vivian Kistler" <vivian@columbapublishing.com>
Subject: E-tips

Well, I had a look and an earlier E-Tips, Egads, is a nice way to put

Some of this info is so outdated, but mixed with current info.

This is not good. Decor has Nona and William to rely on for up-to-date
info and yet they (2 editors) continue to think they can write the
articles and the e-tips.

This is a lack of respect for our industry's profession.
I was asked by an editor to provide a sequence of photos for a project
and she would write the how-to. Really? And what is it that you know how
to do?, I asked.

The earlier editors like Alice Gibson cleared things with their
contributing editors and Alice was a CPF.

PFM and Art World News do not pretend to know how to do framing; they
leave it to the professionals. Decor's editors should stick to reporting
and editing and leave the instruction to their contributing editors.


Oddly enough, I don't get the e-tips.
Yes, times have changes and the current editors at Decor are not

It sounds like they have taken "tips" from various people/publications
from various years and mixed them together. The tips were not mine and
the referred to book and video, Conservation Framing is about paper art

The breathing (air circulation) issue was pretty popular about 10 years
ago. It really refers to sealing up an oil painting, not a giclee.
Caulking the keys? Egads.

Merrill's email is up-to-date and pretty much covers the topic.

When I started framing the practice was to leave the back open. But I
didn't like the look so we covered the back and have been for 30 years;
no air holes just paper. I use boards when the item may be in danger of
being punctured. However, the PPFA Guidelines for Framing Art on Canvas
(now out of print) along with several other books, did recommend the
holes with screen or some covering--but that was then, that's not now.

Unfortunately, E-tips have things a bit mixed up and as Ken noted, times
have changed and there are many older publications out there. I have
revised the six-volume set of the Library of Professional Picture framer
every two years, sometimes sooner. Products change, accepted methods

Thanks for bringing that to my attention,


Vivian Kistler, CPF, GCF, CMG
Columba Publishing Co.
154 Pembroke Road
Akron, OH 44333
phone 330-836-2619 800-999-7491
fax 330-836-9659

So as you can see sometimes well meaning publishers who aren't actually framers can use outdated information to really confuse things.

By the way I have personally asked Hugh to comment and maybe he will here since I don't know if he participates on HH.But I made a comment that if the specs are good enough for the rigid requirements of the NGA they should be good enough for normal FRAMERS. Also Merrill Grayson did a very nice job of explaining why PPFA agrees as did Jim Miller.
Well you all have figured it out - as the copied thread states, the e-tip is old outdated material.

It is fascinating how these early treatises take on a life of their own. I would dearly love to write a history of framing and conservation practices as it is so interesting. Baring that, I'd love to read it. I like trying to find the start of an idea, and follow it's permutations, and who added what, where it was published or spoken about. I did a bit of one on needlework mounting methods, it is like detective work.

Isn't it nice you are all so sharp you caught the mistake right away?

Originally posted by Framar:
Who is in charge of those things, anyways???
Someone standing in an unemployment line, is really kicking themselves for getting to lazy to call someone in the "current" know... and instead they just recycled (plagerized?) old stuff published in hte 70s or 50s....