The Mount - Picture Framing For You

The Mount

As can be seen in the image displayed there is a mount between the frame and the artwork. The mount has four main functions.

1. To support and protect the artwork.  Generally speaking, glass should never touch artworks.  For example, pastel artworks can be easily smudged, acrylics may not be 100% dry by the time they come to be framed and in addition, rooms can vary in temperature, causing condensation to appear on the glass. Without the mount the artwork could become bonded to the glass, making its subsequent removal from the frame impossible without causing damage. An additional piece of mountboard is placed behind the artwork to protect it from impurities in the back board.

2. To determine image size. The mount can be used to conceal parts of the artwork that the customer wishes not to be displayed. Determining the external dimensions of the mount is also very important in enhancing the presentation of the artwork. We have some guidelines (not rules) that we follow when determining the size and colour(s) of the mount.

a) The mount (and frame) should be in sympathy with the colours in the image.  This is quite critical in that the wrong choice can completely undermine the enjoyment of an artwork. We are very happy to advise on choices and demonstrate these choices using our mountboard and frame samples.

b) Narrow window mounts (say less than 3cm) can look mean and give a 'crushed' look to the finished framing.

c) Small images can be flattered by wide window mounts and mouldings, making the artwork look more important and impressive.

d) On the other hand, large artworks can look cumbersome and oversized when a very wide window mount is created.

3. To enhance the artwork.  Creating space between the artwork and the frame in a sympathetic colour enhances the artwork and allows it to be better appreciated by separating it from distracting influences (such as patterned wallpapers, ornaments placed nearby etc).

4. To provide a medium for further decoration. Lines can be drawn or engraved and/or watercolour bands of colour can be applied to mounts to further enhance the artwork. Inscription windows can also be cut into window mounts to provide information relevant to the artwork.

The above makes choosing a mount and frame for an artwork as simple as following a series of guidelines. While the guidelines can be helpful, choosing mounts and frames is very much a creative process. It can feel like a voyage of discovery as we try different combinations of colour,  single, double or triple mounts, then the frame.  Ultimately our eye will tell us if the selected combination is right or not. What we are always seeking is that inner feeling we instantly get when the mounts and frames 'look right'! You, our customer, can participate in this process when you visit our studio with an artwork to be framed.

Artcare Mountboard

Not all mountboards are equal. Some will yellow and fade rather quickly and some can actually damage the artwork due to impurities in the mountboard itself. Yet good-quality  mountboards can trap impurities that would otherwise damage the artwork and some are fade-resistant. We use the best available mountboard of conservation quality known as Artcare,  made by Nielsen Bainbridge. The table below summarises its properties.

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Shown below are a series of images which explain what Artcare board does and how it does it. All the characteristics mentioned above, and detailed below, were rigorously subject to scientific testing conducted by the US Library of Congress. For those interested in the detailed tests and findings we give links to the relevant reports below.

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Further Information

As if the superb technical specifications mentioned above were not enough, there are more colours in the Artcare range than are available from any other mountboard manufacturer. We currently have about 125 different mountboard colours in stock and as many again available to order should we need them. This makes it much easier to achieve that 'just right' result that we are always seeking.

Much more information about Artcare mountboard, its properties and the scientific tests that were conducted on it are available on the United States Library of Congress website.

A summary of these tests and findings are available in the Library of Congress report entitled Storage Materials: Effects of Zeolites.

A fully detailed report covering all the tests carried out by the Library of Congress and their findings are available in a report entitled Performance Evaluation of 4‐Ply Rag Boards Containing Calcium Carbonate and Zeolites. This is available at this link:

Copy and past the above link into your browser to read the report.

Just a few of our Mountboard Samples

The Artcare brochure and frame label