sealing a frame package


CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Jun 13, 2002
Sacramento, California
Hi all,

I've sealed many a frame package in my years in the business but this one is a little different so I need your input. It is a vintage piece of stitchery that is stretched onto stretcher bars. My customer had me remove it from the original frame and I'm putting a new frame and new UV glass w/ spacer. Little critters had gotten into the piece and snacked on it a bit so she wants to make sure they can't get in there again. So I'm sealing the package (with AFFC behind the artwork) but what type of tape should I use since there is exposed fabric on the sides of the stretcher bar? We're usually dealing with mats so the sealing tape does not touch the artwork but I'm concerned about taping the stitchery. Suggestions?
You could use the Lineco foil tape that is good stuff. Just make sure you burnish it down.

Hugh will probably tell you marveseal. I have not used it...I know sham eon me

Humor me.

If there's AFFC behind the stretched stichery, why would the tape come in contact with the fabric?

Is it stretched over the stretchers AND the AFFC?

If so, how come? Is there room for another board behind that - maybe 4-ply rag?
As Patrick predicted..., Marvelseal 360 can be used to make a package that completely encloses
the item and it will keep pollution out and extremes of humidity out and will also keep bugs
away. has descriptions
of such packages among their articles index and
the material is available from University Products. There will be a class on making such packages at the PPFA Convetion in LV, but that is
some months away.


I know this is off topic - but is there a chance you can remove the fabric from the stretcher bars?

the wood is likely to damage the fabric as well as buggies and stuff.

It may be healthier for the work to be on acid free foamcore, and then your problem may be easier to handle as well.

A fellow Grumbler once wrote that when he/she seals the frame package, they leave a very small opening at some point. I believe this person felt it was necessary to prevent gas build-up or something with humidity exchanges....not sure. I have personally never made a little opening.

What is the correct method, please????

Thanks always for sharing your wealth of knowledge with us!!
Patrick -- Perfect! I have that on hand. Is the adhesive okay to go against the fabric?

Ron -- The fabric is already stretched onto stretcher bars but I am placing AFFC behind it because what's the point in sealing it if bugs can get in from behind. So the stretcher bar with fabric wrapped around it is still exposed.

Sandra -- I did consider restretching this but I'm afraid that the munchy bugs may have weakened the fabric. My customer purchased the piece as it is and I'm worried that undoing the stretch may be a nightmare for me.

Nona -- I went over this piece very thoroughly but you're right... it is possible there are teeny tinies hiding in the threads. The bugs I did see (all dead) were pretty big. This customer is a super one and she will be confident that I did the best I could. It looks dandy right now and I'll let her know to keep an eye out for others. She's regular enough I'd be happy to crack back into it for her if needed.
Sherry Lee,
I've taken Hugh's class and have done some of the sealed frames. The idea is to seal the artwork in the framing package so that the environment is stabilized. A hole in the seal would ruin that seal.
The technique involves using metalized plastic film (Marvelseal) and the glass of the frame to make a completely sealed package. Done properly the package should be able to be submerged in water...though it would most likely float.

Once the package is sealed, there is limited amount of activity that can go on inside the package before the active ingredients run out. There are also certain items that can be added to the interior of the package to help mitigate any harmful activity. There are various scavengers that fix oxygen, or corrsive elements, as well as silica boards that control the relative humidity. About the only thing that isn't controlled is the temperature.

Four Corners, With the glazing in front of the work and the frame on the sides, all you would really need to keep bugs out is a durable dust cover. Try Tyvek.
If the client is still experiencing insect activity (once they have been eradicated from the frame package, and the back sealed with Tyvek) then she has greater problems than bugs in her art.
Fourcorner I think you might be confused. A frame package is when you take the glass, art, mats and backing and seal them together. You should not have tape of the fabric. I may misunderstand you, sorry if I have.

Wally Fay,

Thanks for your response. When I read the suggestion of leaving a little 'gap' in the frame package seal, it didn't compute to me. It seemed like a conflict. I'm glad to hear your take on it.
Sherry, I think the idea of the gap in the package seal is related to the idea of putting a dust seal on an oil painting and then punching some holes in it so the oil can 'breathe.'

The only things breathing in there are the critters, so we might as well put a litttle doggy door on the dust seal so they can come and go as they please.

I shoulda brought my camera for this!
No mats involved. Just a piece of fabric that is wrapped around stretcher bar. I need to seal frame w/spacer, stretcher bar and fc backing. Since the fabric is stretched over the edges of the stretcher bar, it is exposed. And since the package is slightly deeper than the frame, it protrudes from the back a bit. I think a nicely sealed dust cover is going to have to be the way to go.
Thanks for all your help!
Originally posted by fourcorners:
...Since the fabric is stretched over the edges of the stretcher bar, it is exposed. And since the package is slightly deeper than the frame, it protrudes from the back a bit. I think a nicely sealed dust cover is going to have to be the way to go....
Now it's clearer. Your concern is justified, and you are correct -- you should not put tape or anything harmful on the canvas, which is exposed because the painting is deeper than the frame's rabbet. That's a common problem, easily solved by increasing the rabbet depth of the frame by adding a simple frame called a "backbox".

Build the backbox out of small-dimension lumber from a lumber mill or home-improvement store. 1/2" x 3/4" stock often works well.

If it would be seen, paint it, stain it, or gild it to match. I usually paint them matte black.

The backbox enables you to fit the frame with whatever protective features are appropriate, including a solid backer board to protect the canvas from damage from behind.

Using a paper dustcover without a solid board backer is not recommended.
What Wally said about putting holes in any part
of the mat or frame package should taken into account. Our environment is full of pollution,
chemical, mineral, and biological and allow that
air into where art is turns the art into a filter
for the pollution. Not a good idea. Sealing with
glass and foil laminate film protects against all
of those threats. Relatively few items that are
considered for framing are self-destructive
(early plastic is a major exception) so sealing
will not hold in harmful gases, ordinarily and
holes will just let in pollution and bugs.

Is it possible to take the fabric and needlework off of the stretcher bars and just gently wrap it around the acid free fc? You could pin or lace it in place. Depending on the needlework, I might even be tempted to put a thin layer of batting behind the whole thing to keep it smoother looking without having to apply a lot of stretch to it.

The stretcher bars seem like overkill and they are making for a clunky frame package.

Also, how is it possible to be sure that the little critters have moved on to other munchies? Will subjecting these fabrics to the powder post beetle treatment help at all? That is, freeze, thaw and freeze again? Anyone?

edie the hmmmmmmmm goddess