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       A while ago, a customer brought in a framed acrylic painting done by her grandmother. As you can see by the photo below, it is a still-life of flowers. This artwork was recently custom framed at another shop (now out of business) nearby in Sandwich, MA.  Although this customer accepted the design, she was always unhappy with the results.  She did what most consumers do: she relied on their “Expertise” in designing the finished product.  They took her hard-earned money and delivered a product that was so over-cooked, and so out of proportion; we recommended that she make a fresh start.


Poor Matting Design

  Allow me to explain the problems with the mats used.   The inner red mat looked like a neon ring that drew the viewer’s eye away from the artwork. The top layered mat was, in no way related to any color within the overall painting.

 When I learned to frame back in the seventies, there was a maxim that a mat had 3 purposes:

1.           1. To act as a resting point for the eye between the artwork and the frame.

2.           2. The color and width of the mat should enhance the artwork, but never overpower it.

       3. The mat should act as a vapor barrier separating the artwork from the glass. To put it another way, mats should be spacers to prevent humidity condensate from welding the artwork to the glass.   


Poor Frame Design

Although this was a very high quality frame from a very reputable Italian manufacturer, this framewas massive in size and scope, its burl was extremely distracting, the earthy tone was, in no way, related to the character of the artwork. Finally, the frame was devoid of depth, and its patina was much too shiny.

Our Treatment and Solution

We de-fitted the artwork and started fresh with a look that would satisfy all three elements of professional matting design as explained above.  We chose a linen-patterned, off-white archival mat. The frame had to have the balance we were looking for, as well as the shape and balance of tonal value enhancing the artwork.  Our choice:  a traditional series ivory 2-1/2” frame with a lightly mottled red splash. Instead of an inner colored mat we opted for a wooden fillet insert which matched the same frame series manufacturer.  The results are quite pleasing to the eye, and most importantly, to our customer who will now get a lifetime of enjoyment viewing another cherished family piece of heritage.

Posted in: Art Restoration

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