Landscape and Nature Fine Art Photography by Canadian artist, Tricia McLellan.

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Caring For Your Fine Art Print

Unpacking Your Fine Art Print:
Un-matted Fine Art Print:
All un-matted fine art prints are placed in an acid-free clear poly sleeve to protect it during shipment and storage. These prints are loosely rolled and placed in a heavy duty shipping tube. When it arrives, carefully cut the paper tape used to seal the tube. Remove the rolled print, which is also protected inside with a layer of bubble wrap. The bubble wrap can be recycled or reused. Unroll the print, while still in the poly sleeve, and place it on a flat surface to allow it to flatten. The print should be laid in a dark, dry room away from any dangers (small children, pets, smoke, other harmful fumes) until you either store it in an archival album or box or matted and framed for display.
Matted Fine Art Print:
Matted prints are placed in an acid-free clear poly sleeve to protect it during shipment and storage. The sleeve is taped to an extra large sheet of heavy duty flat cardboard so that the piece will not move during shipment. The extra 2-3” of space around will protect the product from any damage that the corners or edges might encounter. The extra space will also protect the piece when you carefully slice the tape along the edge of the cardboard. Do not use a blade longer than 1”. Leave the matted print in the poly sleeve until it is properly framed.
Handling Your Fine Art Print:
Be very careful when directly handling any fine art print.
Use white cotton gloves, or wash your hands to remove any oils and contaminants. Only handle the prints and mats from the edges and be careful not to crease the paper. Always use two hands to support the piece.
Leave the prints and mats in the poly sleeves whenever possible.
Matting Your Fine Art Print:
If you purchase your print un-matted, please consider the following recommendations to protect your investment:
Find a professional framer who works with fine art prints and carries archival quality materials.
Use only 100% acid-free mounting and matting materials. We highly recommend 100% cotton mats. 100% Alpha Cellulose would be our second choice(see The Glossary of Terms for more details).
Unbuffered mat board should be used for giclee prints.
An archival quality (lignin and acid-free) backing layer is needed to support and protect the artwork.
Framing Your Fine Art Print:
Choosing the right frame will require you to consider both print longevity and aesthetic appeal. The frame’s purpose is to present the artwork and to protect it from environmental conditions.
Select a frame that complements the artwork. The frame shouldn’t compete or distract a viewer from the piece. For this reason, most photographic prints are matted with white or off-white matts and framed with thinner frames.
Metal frames are considered to be “archival” since they do not emit any damaging fumes. If you do use wood, make sure everything, except the groove (or “rabbet”) is finished and sealed. The rabbet should be lined with a barrier to prevent acid in the wood from transferring to the mats and prints.
The frame needs to be sturdy and deep enough to hold all the materials: glazing, mats, artwork and backing.
Choosing Glazing:
Glass is the least expensive choice. It is easy to clean, chemically inert, and scratch resistant. However, glass is heavier, breakable, very reflective and only provides 45% protection from UV rays – sunlight, fluorescent and halogen lamps.
UV or Museum Quality Glass is of superior quality to standard glass and may have a transparent, non-glare coating or an anti-static coating. UV glass is harder and stronger than regular glass. It is optically clear and distortion free. This type of glass provides 95-99% UV protection. The major disadvantage is the cost.
Acrylic material (Plexiglass®, Lucite®, Perspex®, Lexan®) is the lightest glazing and is completely shatterproof. With a UV coating they will provide 99% protection from UV rays (without a coating they will filter up to 60% of UV rays). Acrylic is recommended for large pieces of art or pieces that are in high traffic areas. This material is also more expensive than standard glass.
A good framer should be able to help you choose based on your application. They usually have samples of the different glazing’s they use. You will want the glazing to be clear, free of any imperfections and it shouldn’t alter the colours in the print.
Hanging Your Fine Art Print:
When choosing the locations and environments to display your artwork in, please consider the following factors:
Natural and artificial light will damage paper. Do not hang art where it will be exposed to prolonged daylight or direct sunlight. Close curtains when possible, and rotate your pieces occasionally to limit their exposure. Keep fluorescent and metal halogen lights away from your art.
Low voltage MR-16 Halogen spot bulbs with UV glass are recommended.
Temperature and Humidity
Display your art in a cool, dry environment whenever possible. Basements, attics, bathrooms and similar areas are not recommended. Inside walls are preferred unless a moisture barrier is included. Avoid sources of heat: working fireplaces, radiators, etc.
Air Pollutants
Artwork should not be hung in areas with above average dust, soot, smoke, ocean air and any other air pollutant that can damage paper. Kitchens and bathrooms are not recommended.
Even properly sealed art pieces can be invaded by insects. Insects can eat, soil and damage paper. Remove any you find and inspect the framing package.