The five items I talked about in the previous post have now been framed by Senior Technician David Cooper at the University Gallery. Due to budgetary limitations, most of the materials will be exhibited in recycled frames. This means that the materials are found suitable frame sizes from the existing empty frames rather than frame sizes being made to measure. The frames used for this exhibition have had an interesting journey so far. They were used to exhibit both Grace Robertson’s photographs and John Lord’s illustrations in major exhibitions at the University Gallery – so Max Gill is in good company.

Framing, Mac Gill, Sirpa Kutilainen, University of Brighton Design Archives
The Coventry tapestry attached to acid-free board with archival tape

The Coventry tapestry miniatures could not be framed in the traditional way of cutting a window mount due to the thickness of them. Instead, David Cooper attached the items to an acid free board with archival tape placed at each end of the piece. Archival tape is an adhesive tape that has one side that becomes sticky when wetted and is generally used by the University Gallery staff for mounting exhibition works.

Framing, Max Gill, Sirpa Kutilainen, University of Brighton Design Archives
Foam board ‘buffer’ to stop the original artwork touching the mount glass when framed

Due to the thickness of the two miniatures, a way in which to frame them without the surfaces of them touching the mount glass needed to be invented. For this purpose, David added a necessary thickness of foam board along the edges of the frame on top of which the board with the miniatures attached would sit. When the frame was then sealed, the pieces sit happily in a chamber created for them with the aid of the foam board.

Framing, Max Gill, Sirpa Kutilainen, University of Brighton Design Archives
Archival tape used to attach original artwork onto acid free mount board for framing purposes

For the other three items mentioned in my previous entry were framed in the ‘traditional’ way where a mount was cut to size for the two photographs and the original artwork to go into the frame together. The actual items were attached to the acid free board by placing a strip of archival tape along each of the top edges. When the exhibition comes down, the tape will be cut off as close as possible to the edge of the original and a piece of it will be left on the verso.

David Cooper has decades of experience in hanging up shows at the University Gallery and objects have been hung this way for just as long. I have personally not ‘worked with’ archival tape or removal of it from objects in my short ‘life’ in paper conservation but obviously archival tape has been developed to be safe and effective for use in hanging objects. If I was hinging these items for the exhibition, it is very likely I would be cooking up a wheat starch paste from scratch to use as an adhesive and fiddling with different types of hinges –  taking a lot longer to do a job David managed perfectly well in a blink of an eye with his years of experience!

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