OK, so you decided you were going to add a little artwork to your home. You checked your favorite artists. You considered the pros and cons of originals Vs. reproductions and lithographs Vs.......... whatever. You counted your pennies, made a selection and safely transported your masterpiece home....... Now what?

Well, what you don't do, is give your precious investment to some complete stranger and tell him to do whatever he feels like with it. Unfortunately not every neighborhood frame shop recognizes the value of everything that passes before them. It's up to you to make them aware of any special needs you may have. The bulk of their business is made up of run of the mill posters, certificates and Aunt Florence's pencil sketch of Uncle Bill's vegetable garden. They have standard routines that don't necessarily suit your needs. It's important that you recognize what those needs are so that you can communicate with the framer in an authoritative manor.

Once the framing is complete you don't want to locate your artwork where any harm can befall it, like near a heat or water source, or lying around where Munchkin, (Aunt Florence's Doberman), can take it for a walk, or Fluffy, (Aunt Florence's cat), can sharpen her claws on it.

Below, I've outlined the basics regarding various originals and reproductions. There are many different types of reproduction. If you're not sure which of the following general instructions to follow, check out Nick's Artwork (if you have one of my reproductions), or the Terms & Materials pages. They may help you sort out the wood from the trees and the bracelets from the bangles.



All artwork on paper

Less valuable reproductions

Watercolors, gouache, pastels, charcoal, other drawing mediums, and valuable reproductions


Giclee prints



If the work is not stretched

Applicable to all works on canvas



Giclee prints


Canvas board





Canvases with acrylic permanent varnishes

Canvases with spirit based varnishes


PART 1 .


All artwork on paper - The first thing that has to be said is.................Yes! You do need to put your artwork-on-paper under glass. Obviously you need to keep them dry as well. They should be mounted in such a way that the surface of the artwork does not come in contact with the glass to avoid sticking and to discourage fungus. No artwork should be located near intense heat or a naked flame. I know....... you're asking who would do that? But I once knew a guy who owned a Rembrandt original and kept it over an Elizabethan open fireplace! If you decide to use plastic in place of glass be aware that many plastics are acidic and only use acid free plastics recommended by your framer.


Less valuable reproductions - If you have an unsigned open edition reproduction (unnumbered) of dubious acidity then give it to your framer and let him do his thing. If the work is signed and/or acid free you should consider using archival materials. Also see Acidity and LIGHTFASTNESS below.


Watercolors, gouache, pastels, charcoal, other drawing mediums, and valuable reproductions - If your reproduction is numbered and signed, or if you are dealing with an original on paper, it's probably best not to dry mount it, (unless the paper is in really bad shape). A work can be wrecked over time by a deteriorating support and may be devalued simply because it no longer retains it's original form. I use acid free hinges applied only to the top of the print in order to let it expand and contract with humidity. Whatever you and you're framer decide to do with these items, do not laminate them! Also see Acidity and LIGHTFASTNESS below.


Acidity - The discoloration of paper derived from wood is caused by the interaction of lignin, (the gummy substance that binds the cellulose fibers together), acidity and sunlight. By buffing the paper with calcium carbonate a pH neutral balance can be achieved, thereby preventing discoloration. Such papers, (and rag paper which has no lignin), are termed ACID FREE. Prints made on ACID FREE paper will last for centuries provided that they are (i) treated with care, (ii) matted with archival mats, (iii) are protected from acid migration from the backboard by an acid free barrier sheet, (and (iv) kept away from Aunt Florence and her animals.) Do not believe the framer when he tells you that foam core is ACID FREE unless he tells you that he specifically orders "acid free foam core". Regular foam core is not ACID FREE.

All Nick Maley prints are ACID FREE.


PART 2 .


If the work is not stretched - Work on canvas is usually intended to be stretched upon a wooden frame, (called a stretcher). Part of the canvas extends around the side of the stretcher. If the work is not stretched when you get it, do not trim off the extra canvas or mount it on foam core or board. Such actions are liable to seriously de-value the artwork. If the canvas is a regular size you should purchase proper artist's stretchers from your local art store. Such stretchers are specially designed to slot together and can be adjusted to suit varying weather conditions. They come in a variety of standard lengths, are not expensive and are vastly superior to a custom made stretcher, (and less effort ).

Nick Maley originals, repligraphs and giclees are usually shipped without stretcher bars. It costs less to buy new ones than it does to ship the old ones. New bars can be purchased from any quality art store. The corners are made to push together easily. Temporarily fix the top corners to the top stretcher bar and angle the frame until it lines up with the folds in the edge of the canvas. Pin the center of each side to the bars and chase any wrinkles out to the corners. (You may have to release the original two temporary fixings that you made). Fold the corners as you would a bed sheet. If the canvas is stretched evenly there will be no wrinkles or buckles. If it is slack use 4 artist's frame wedges to evenly expand the frame. Nick Maley uses standard size stretcher bars on repligraphs and giclees that are usually 16" x 18" or 16" x 20" or 18" x 24" or 20" x 24" or 24" x 30". Originals may be any size.


Applicable to all works on canvas - Works on canvas do not HAVE to be covered with glass and are not susceptible to acidity in the same way that works on paper are. The main threat is the danger of the canvas being punctured by another object. Basically you must be careful.

If the canvas becomes baggy or wrinkled due to dry weather shrinking the stretcher bars, either expand the stretcher with artist's stretcher wedges or use a household spray to apply clean water to the back of the canvas. If you dampen the canvas, do not soak it. Disperse the water evenly with your hand. Allow it to air dry at room temperature. Do not force dry or try this procedure on an already tight canvas as it can cause the stretcher to buckle. If the work becomes twisted and the canvas is over tight because the stretcher has expanded due to damp weather it should be restretched. Using artist's stretcher wedges to slightly expand the stretcher when the work is first stretched can provide enough adjustment that restretching is unnecessary in humid conditions.

Be careful not too lean the unprotected surface of the artwork against other items such as a wall, plastic sheeting, other paintings or objects. Do not allow the corner of another painting or frame or other item to rest against the unprotected surface of the artwork. Also see VARNISHES and LIGHTFASTNESS.


Oils - Original paintings in Oil should not be placed in direct sunlight or near a heat source such as a radiator unless you like your paintings to look cracked and flaky. Artist's oil pigments are generally lightfast. Because oil paint is expensive and most artist's use large amounts of white, less scrupulous artist's sometimes use cheap white oil based pigment which is not of the same quality. Such whites, (and any color mixed with them), often develop cracking and flaking. They should be checked periodically and treated if necessary to stop deterioration at an early stage. Oil paintings have a reputation for being of superior quality to works in other mediums however if the support is not properly prepared and the chemical balance is not preserved then they are more susceptible to deterioration than watercolors or acrylics. Also see VARNISHES below.


Acrylics - Although acrylics were frowned upon when they became popular in the 50's and 60's they are now widely accepted. They are the most stable art medium, are usually lightfast and need no specific care instructions other than the general instructions given above. See VARNISHES.


Nick Maley giclees - Giclees have become the preferred printing system for Nick's rarest images. Those on canvas and some on paper are hand finished using various techniques. Giclees now have their own care page.


Nick Maley repligraphs - My repligraphs are made up of multiple layers of ink, watercolor, acrylic and varnish. They are not as durable as original works in acrylic and care should be taken to ensure that the surface does not come in contact with any scratchy or abrasive materials or implement. You should have read if the work is not stretched, and applicable to all works on canvas above, and should read LIGHTFASTNESS and VARNISHES.


Canvas board - Works on canvas board are less likely to be punctured than regular canvas. However they are more susceptible to damage by dampness and can be difficult to renovate if the board starts to de laminate or is attacked by fungus. Keep them dry.


PART 3 .


Although a discerning artist will make every effort to use the finest, fade resistant, materials available, original watercolors, pen & inks, limited editions, lithographs, many seriographs, repligraphs and original prints are not entirely lightfast. To be safe, don't put your valuable artwork in direct sunlight as fading is likely to result. The period of time that it takes for the artwork to fade is directly proportionate to the length of tome you expose it to the sun or other ultraviolet rays. You might want to ask your framer about UV reducing glass and plastics. I am personally wary of UV reducing sprays applied directly to the surface of valuable works.


PART 4 .


Canvases with acrylic permanent varnishes, such as Nick Maley originals and Repligraphs, may be safely cleaned with mild soap and water. Be careful not to over wet the stretcher bars as this can cause them to swell and for the work to buckle. This varnished surface may stick to some plastics. Be careful as damage may be difficult to repair and the work may have to be returned for renovations. This will not be a problem if you follow the instruction not to lean anything against the surface of the artwork. Sometimes packaging materials such as paper may stick to the surface. Do not use any abrasive materials! Soak the paper with clean water and gently rub it off with a finger. If the varnish becomes milky leave to dry at room temperature when it will become transparent again.


Canvases with spirit based varnishes such as oils and some acrylics can be cleaned by stripping back the varnish with a spirit. This is a job for an expert as the artwork can be seriously damaged by over stripping or the use of the wrong chemicals.


( OK. So now you're suitably knowledgeable you can confidently march your masterpiece down to the neighborhood framer..........probably to find that he knew all this anyway. Good for him! And good for you............ at least now you can talk intelligently at cocktail parties about Rembrandt originals that you find hanging over open fireplaces and Dobermans you find taking them for a walk! )

Nick .


Island Arts of the YodaGuy
Antigua, West Indies & Sint Maarten, Netherland Antilles


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