Minoxy® microclimate framing enclosure, www.minoxy.com
Knowing the reasons behind dimensional changes in paper (as discussed in Parts 1 and 2 of this series) can help us reach accommodations with changes that are inherent to its creation or environmentally unavoidable. Foreknowledge can also help us prevent undesirable and unnecessary distortions.
In this article, we explore measures that can be taken to prevent or slow down dimensional changes.
Prevent changes in moisture content
For owners or artworks that cannot tolerate any dimensional changes, sealed framing or storage sytems are required. The high-end solution is to hermetically seal the art in a case or storage package with an inert gas.
A lower-tech method is to use glass and aluminum vapour barriers to seal the art and framing package in an environment conditioned to the required relative humidity (normally 40% to 50%). A flexible aluminum-polyethylene laminate (i.e., Marvelseal) wraps around the reverse of the framing package and is attached to the front of the glass with adhesive.
Buffer changes in moisture content
Conventional frames, especially those with plastic backboards (e.g., Coroplast) can mitigate normal humidity/temperature cycles and allow the paper to adjust slowly. Storage folders and boxes also buffer external environmental changes.
Allow paper to move
Choose framing and storage methods and materials that accommodate natural movement. Allow room for expansion.
In special circumstances, it may be desirable to keep an artwork flat by overall adhesion to a rigid backboard. Such a decision is usually made by the artist or owner, in consultation with a conservator. Stable, and preferably reversible adhesives should be used.
Protect from water disasters
Choose storage and display locations wisely (i.e., not in the basement or under water pipes), have a disaster plan in place and, when practical, use waterproof or water-resistant enclosures.
Appreciate and enjoy
One of papers many charms is the third dimension created by media and environmental history. The puckering and draws caused by strokes of watercolour, the light undulations and the gentle edge cockles that appear in response to seasonal changes are part of the subtle pleasure we derive from paper.