May 9th, 2010

Our blog is, like many others, a statement of opinion. I have chosen, however, to restrict my opinions to those involving picture framing, design choices and other topics that relate strictly to our mission:  To remind our current clients why they should continue to come back to us and why new and prospective framing clients should definitely check us out. Our goal is to provide you with the very best quality framing materials, the most innovative, eye-popping framing design possible and to give you the best service we can at a price we can both afford.



As I mentioned in last month's discussion on types of glass used in framing, I would extend that topic to include the other major glazing category: Plexiglass or acrylic. 

There is a common misconception that clients bring, regularly, to our shop: A framing client is quoted a price for a specific type of glass and, when they ask about plexiglass's price, is shocked to learn it costs more than glass. They just assumed, because it was plastic, that it would be cheaper. That would be true if we were talking about polycarbonate plastics, such as Polystyrene. This 1/16" thick plastic is what you get with a lot of poster-size ready-made frames. It is not as clear or as smooth as plexiglass (acrylic), which we usually carry in 1/8" thickness. Further, polystyrene is softer and scratches more easily.  We avoid it like the plague where possible.

There are a number of reasons you might want to consider using plexiglass instead of glass. Here is a short list of some of those reasons:

(1) Your framed artwork exceeds 40" x 60" in size or, at the very least, your frame dimensions both exceed 40". Glass usually comes in sheets up to 40 x 60. Plexiglass usually comes in sheets 48" x 96" (with regular, clear plexiglass also available up to 60 x 110"). 

(2) You are shipping framed art and are worried about broken glass shredding your valuable work of art on paper. 

(3) You want to use a frame with a very thin profile, but the frame's cross-section will not support the weight of the glass. Plexiglass weighs about half of what glass does.

(4) The gallery in which your exhibition will hang insists on you providing everything framed in plexiglass for the sake of security. As a corolary to this, artwork hanging in public spaces may, very often, be framed in plexiglass for the safety of the viewer and to minimize the space owner's liability should a piece fall from the wall, possibly injuring the viewer or damaging the art (or both). 

Types of Plexiglass that we offer

Like glass, plexi (plexiglass) comes in a variety of types. Each one is used when certain attributes are desired for a final appearance of the framing. Here are the most commonly used types:

Premium Clear (Type "FF"): This is the least expensive  type of plexi we offer. Unlike regular glass, it does not have a green tint to it (the green tint in regular glass is due to the presence of iron in the glass). Since plexi is a petroleum product, it has no color at all. It is quite clear and has about the same amount of reflection as regular glass.

Reflection Control (Type "P99"): Like non-glare glass, this sort of plexi is frosted on one face and smooth on the side that faces the art.  It has no color to it like Clear FF plexiglass. Like non-glare glass, it softens the focus a bit and dulls colors somewhat.It is more expensive than regular (FF) plexi.

Conservation Clear (Type "OP3"): This is a normally reflective plexiglass that has a U/V filter incorporated into it, as opposed to glass, which has the filter laminated onto it. It will filter out about 98% of most harmful U/V radiation. It is more expensive than FF or P99 plexi.

Conservation Reflection Control (Type "OP3/P99" ): This is the non-glare verrsion of "OP3" plexiglass.  It filters out U/V rays and cuts down on reflection. It is more expensive than regular OP3 plexi. 

Optium Museum Acrylic AR:  A relatively recent development, Optium  (made by Tru Vue) has many of the properties of Museum Glass. It is a specially coated plexi that is anti-reflective and nearly invisible. It is also abrasion resistant.  While it is, like Museum Glass, amazing looking, it is also the most expensive plexi available. It costs about 4 to 5 times as much as OP3/P99.  You really need to have a compelling reason to use it, probably like when you have a very large piece of art to frame that is valuable and glass won't do. Or, if you have a traveling exhibition that needs the look of Museum Glass, but you are afraid of damage in transit, Optium is a natural. 

The down side to plexiglass, other than the fact that it is more costly than glass, is that it is electrostatic and is not suitable for use when framing unfixed pastels or charcoal art on paper. The static charge that develops on plexi will, often, pull the chalk dust right off the paper onto the inside of the plexi over time if it has not been sprayed with a fixative before framing. This can be used to advantage, however, when trying to frame a Cibachrome or Ilfochrome photograph, which is a polyester-based photo print. A static charge can be used to hold the photo in place without any adhesives.

Also, plexiglass will scratch more easily than glass. You can, however, polish out fine scratches with a liquified paste called Plastic Polish.  Finally, when using it to frame large pieces of art, it will sag more easily than glass on large, unsupported expanses. Still, it may be your only option to glaze an exceptionally large piece of art. Several years back, a client of ours who was having her student show at the School of The Art Institute brought in 2 really large watercolors that required our buying 60 x 110" plexiglass to frame her art. They ended up being 60 x 102" if I recall correctly. 

Signature Mats

We are called upon, quite regularly, to create mats with large borders that can be signed by a group of people. These are called, appropriately enough, Signature Mats. They are created for nearly any occasion where you wish to give a person or group of persons a keepsake to remember them by. We have created them for such occasions as:

*** A wedding, where the bride and groom have attending guests sign the mat, rather than a guest book. In that way, they can add comments too.

***A co-worker is either changing jobs within the company (promoted, usually), leaving the company to pursue other opportunities (hopefully voluntarily)

***A religious or educational milestone is reached and the celebrants wish to express their sentiments to the honoree.

I will go into more detail in my next blog to elaborate on the many tips and ideas that we have incorporated into signature mats to make them unique and more useful. But don't feel like you have to wait until you read the June blog to bring us an idea you have for a signature mat. We will be glad to collaborate with you on it and bring all our creativity to bear.  Our Wizard 8500E computerized mat cutter lets us do all kinds of wonderful and creative things with these mats. Stop in and let us design something unique and special just for you.

Congratulations to Rob Flax

Congratulations to our oldest son, Robert, on his graduation from Denison University on May 16th, 2010. Rob is graduating with a degree in Music and a degree in Mathematics. He will be going on to grad school at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, studying Contemporary Improvisation (he plays fiddle, bass and mandolin). We were out in Ohio at Denison in late April for his Senior Recital that he arranged. It was a wonderful mixture of classical, bluegrass, jazz and swing music.  My face still hurts from smiling. It was one of those moments that all parents live for. Rob, I hope you (and all our clients) experience such joy at some time in your life......

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