How to care for your framed artwork on paper

Following on from my previous blog post about mounting and framing original artworks on paper, I now want to give you some advice on hanging your newly framed artwork.

We've all had pictures framed and not known where to display them in the home, right? Usually it's whether or not we think the picture goes well with the furniture or with the colour of the walls. Sound familiar? But, how many times has your dilemma been because you want to protect the work from its surroundings and everywhere you look has a potential problem which could inflict harm upon the picture? For example is the space you wanted it to go directly above a radiator or on a wall presenting some damp? If these kinds of questions have never even entered your mind when hanging a piece of art, then nows the time to start thinking about them. Whether it's a pencil or charcoal drawing, a watercolour painting or a mixed media piece combining lots of materials, let's look at some of the harmful elements around the home that could do long term damage to your picture.


Be mindful of where the sunlight falls inside your house during the day. Exposing works on paper to direct sunlight can damage both the quality of the paper and the material that has been used to create the art. UV light can cause both the paper and the image to fade over time. To prevent this from happening be sure to hang your picture in a place you know there is no direct sunlight. Alternatively, when at the framers, ask them if you can have light reflective glass instead of standard glass, which will enable you to have more options when hanging it in your home. Light reflective glass can be expensive, so do ask for the price before you commit. 


The place where you want to hang your picture is directly above a radiator. Think again about this option. A work of art should not be hung above a radiator or any other place in the home where the temperature will fluctuate from hot to cold. The change in temperature can cause the paper to dry out and the materials used to frame it to fail.  


You have an ideal spot to hang your picture and it's in the bathroom. You'd love to see it each time you step out of the shower. STOP! This really isn't the best place to hang your work on paper. You should avoid hanging your picture in humid or damp conditions. If you do this it will increase the chances of the mount and all the materials used inside the frame by the framer to become damp. Damp can also cause the actual picture to 'buckle'. Buckling is when the paper has a rippled effect when it becomes damp or wet. Also, avoid hanging your picture on a newly plastered wall and allow at least six months for the plaster to dry out first. 


For a framed artwork there is a lot to think about, but this is all to ensure your investment lasts for years to come. So, as crazy as it all may sound, it is worth a little time taking care of it. As they say, prevention is better than cure.

Once you've found that perfect spot in your home to hang your picture, you will want to clean it from time to time. There are some do's and don't on how to do this correctly. You may be tempted to use cleaning products or water to clean the frame? This isn't the way to do it as it can spoil the finish of the frame and is a chance that moisture could get inside the frame. Alternatively, just dust frames with a soft brush. To keep the glass clean just use a dry glass cloth. If you want to use glass cleaner I advise you spray it onto the cloth first and NOT directly onto the glass as the fluid could seep into the frame. If you have specialist light reflective glass then just be aware that it has an optical coating which is easily scratched, so take care when cleaning this. 

Remember to also check your framed picture from time to time. Check for any evidence of deterioration such as discolouration, small brown dots, small insects underneath the glass. If you see any of these take it to your framer for advice. You may also want to check the wire or cord on the frame to make sure it's not wearing out or becoming loose. Also, check the back of the picture to see if the tape sealing the back is still in tact and not peeling. If any of these problems occur, again, take it to your framers for advice and a 'checkup'. 

By following my advice and keeping a close check on your framed picture, you'll be well on your way to maintaining a happy, healthy piece of art 😊

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