How to Hang Art Properly | Old World Restorations

by Administrator29. December 2012 16:20

Hanging art is much easier than you might think. All it takes is a little creativity, planning, accurate measurements and sufficient hardware. Consideration should be given to the size, weight and condition of framed art to best determine the safest and most secure method of hanging. If the art is damaged or deteriorated, or the frame is loose and flaking they should be stabilized and/or restored prior to hanging.

The type and placement of the hanging hardware is very important. Far too often, adequate hardware is improperly positioned on the frame or wall, causing the art to crash to the floor. Picture hanging hardware is available in most hardware stores and frame shops, or can be ordered on line. I do not recommend the use of threaded “screw eyes” to attach hanging wire. These small fasteners can loosen over time and pull out of the frame. Nor do I recommend using a single nail or screw to hold framed art on the wall. Look for hanging hardware that will support the size and weight of the art and can be fastened to both the frame and wall with more than one screw or nail. The best hangers to attach on the back of the frame are the “strap” type that provides more than one mounting hole and a heavy looped top to attach the hanging wire. These hangers can also be used without wire by hooking their top loops over an “L” shaped bolt that has been properly positioned in the stud of a wall. This procedure requires more accurate planning, measuring and positioning of the hardware to insure that the art is hung level and secure. Unfortunately, the wall studs are seldom located where they are needed for this type of hanging. Make certain that the wall hangers are secure and will not pull away from the wall. Attach wall hangers into the studs whenever possible. If not, use appropriate wall anchors or picture hooks designed for drywall. Hanging wire provides more flexibility and ease of hanging. Keep in mind, that picture hanging wire is available in different strengths. Select the proper wire to adequately support the art over time. Picture wire does deteriorate and weakened with age. Heavy works should also be supported at or under the bottom of the frame. “J” molding that is used to hang large mirrors can work well with large and heavy frames. One strip is attached to the reverse side of the frame, and the other to the wall. If installed properly, you simply lift the art to the wall and over the “J” channel to lock it in place.

Weather you are hanging one painting or print, or several, inspect the areas where you want to place art and give some thought to any conditions that may cause damage. For example, paintings look great when hung over a mantle. If the fireplace is used frequently, the dry heat that is generated can damage the painting. Art should not be hung directly over or below air ducts or in direct sunlight. Do not place works of art near windows or exterior doors that are opened regularly. Some art should not be hung in bathrooms or kitchens where environmental conditions can fluctuate. Some art can be affected by moisture when hung on an “outside” wall in a home or office, which is more susceptible to fluctuations in temperature and relative humidity than other interior walls. Thin insulation board can be attached to the back of art hung on “outside” walls for added protection. Extremely fragile and valuable art should not be hung in high traffic areas.

Artwork should usually be hung so that the center point of the picture or grouping is at about eye level for the average person. Also remember that a grouping of pictures should be thought of as one unit. Experiment with an arrangement of pictures by laying them out on a large table or on the floor. Try different combinations until you find the layout that works. Placing them on a large piece of paper will allow you to trace around each frame when you have completed the layout and use the paper as a template to attach to the wall and accurately mark the position of hangers. Measure the spaces between each piece to be sure that they are equal.

Hanging Tips…

•Choose Hardware and wire based on weight of framed art
•Hang picture or groups of art with the center at eye level (65”-70” off floor)
•Use two wall hangers (spaced at least 6” apart) when possible
•Position hanging hardware on back of frame (not art) no more than 1/3 down from the top
•Apply rubber or felt pads at bottom corners of the frame to protect walls

Contact Old World Restorations, Inc. Cincinnati, Ohio for your Art Restoration and Conservation needs. (513) 271-5459



Preserving and Restoring Old Photos | Old World Restorations

by Administrator29. December 2012 16:10

The life expectancy of a photograph is very much dependant upon the care and handling that it receives. Photographs can easily be damaged by improper handling, storage, display and framing. There are however, things that you can and should do to safeguard these important documents of your families past.

You can prevent most deterioration by keeping photographic materials in the proper environment. Never store photographs in an attic or basement where they are exposed to extreme temperatures and shifting humidity. Controlled relative humidity (RH) is probably the single most important factor in preserving photographs. Humidity levels above sixty percent can accelerate deterioration and damage to the sensitive surface of a photograph.

Photograph Restoration

Extended exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light can fade and severely damage photographs.

Avoid touching fragile photographic materials as much as possible. Wear clean cotton gloves when handling negatives and prints to prevent the transfer of fingerprints and stains to the surface of the photograph.

Store photographs in protective sleeves and enclosures that are acid-free. Suitable plastic enclosures are made of uncoated polyester film, uncoated cellulose triacetate, polyethylene, and polypropylene. Keep in mind, that photographic emulsions may adhere to a plastic surface at high relative humidity (RH) levels. The RH must remain below eighty percent if plastic enclosures are used for storage. Plastic enclosures should not be used for glass plate, nitrate, or acetate-based negatives. Paper enclosures should be acid-free and lignin free. All storage materials should pass the ANSI Photographic Activity Test (PAT) which is noted in most supplier catalogs. Avoid using cardboard, rubber bands, paper clips, tape, ink pen or markers, rubber cement, silicone adhesives, PVC plastics, or albums that are constructed of colored pages, and use "magnetic" or "no stick" pages. These materials discolor and deteriorate quickly over time.

Photographs of historic value should be matted with acid-free rag or museum board for long-term protection. Mounting adhesives should not come in contact with the photograph. Matting should be done by an experienced framer or under the direction of a trained conservator. Store all prints and negatives that are matted or placed in paper or plastic enclosures in acid-free storage boxes. Negatives should be kept separate from prints.
Consider making digital copies of valued photographs that are stored at another location in the event of a fire, flood or accident.

Restoring Damaged Family Photographs

When disaster strikes, and family keepsakes become torn, stained, burned, wet or faded, there are two very different methods used to restore damaged photographs.

An experienced paper conservator can usually surface clean, mend tears, replace missing areas and perform limited restorations to restore and preserve the original photograph. A damage photograph can also be scanned or digitally reproduced to include invisible restorations that are truly remarkable.

Preservation Tips…

•Handle photographs properly
•Do not expose to extreme temperatures and humidity
•Minimize exposure to Ultraviolet light
•Don’t leave fingerprints on photographs
•Store on protective acid-free sleeves
•Do not store in attic or basement
•Digitally copy important photographs



Cleaning Paintings | Old World Restorations

by Administrator29. December 2012 16:05

As paintings age, the appearance of the image changes with the accumulation of dirt and grime, and the alteration of the materials that were used to create them.

Traditional picture varnish made of natural resins like dammar and mastic has a tendency to yellow and discolor with age. Discolored varnish is not necessarily harmful to the painting, but it does disguise the image.

Cleaning Paintings

When a painting becomes dark and discolored, it should be cleaned and restored by an experienced art conservator rather than attempting to do-it-yourself. There are many home remedies that have been tried and published in magazines and trade journals to clean paintings. Some of our favorites are; “the raw potato”, rolled bread dipped in red wine, household spray cleaners, dish soap, linseed oil, furniture polish, fingernail polish remover (acetone), lighter fluid, and cooking oil. Unfortunately, these materials can cause irreversible damage to the surface and structure of a painting, and should not be used under any circumstances. Many simply coat the surface of the painting with a layer of slime that appears to temporarily wet or clear the image. This application eventually dries, discolors and further obscures the image. Other home remedies can permanently dissolve and wipe away portions of the paint. Covering a painting with layers of linseed or cooking oil will accelerate the deterioration of the canvas support.

Cleaning is one of the most challenging areas of painting conservation, and requires specialized skills, materials and experience. The painted surface can easily be damaged by untrained hands. Cleaning and varnish removal are procedures that require a thorough understanding of art, art history, chemistry, and materials science. One must have an understanding of the materials included in each layer of a painting’s structure and how they may be affected by the application of cleaning agents and solvents.

Damage from improper cleaning methods and materials may not be immediately apparent. For example, improper cleaning can weaken the bond between the paint, ground, and support layers resulting in paint loss over time. The use of water during cleaning may swell and shrink the canvas fibers, causing unnecessary tension on the paint and eventual cracking and flaking.

Paintings are typically cleaned in stages by an experienced art restorer or conservator. Preliminary tests are carried out to determine the effectiveness of cleaning agents and the solubility of the varnish and paint layers. Many different materials and/or combinations of materials may be needed to safely clean a painting. A material or solvent that is used to remove surface dirt and grime, may not effectively reduce or reverse the discolored varnish.

Cleaning agents may also react to different colors and pigments used throughout the painting. Some colors and layers are far more sensitive than others. There are paintings that simply cannot be cleaned, because the image layer is so sensitive that no known cleaning agent can effectively remove the discoloration without causing extensive damage. When a conservator doubts the survival of the image, the choice is sometimes made to leave the painting alone.

Similar consideration must also be given to the frame that surrounds the work of art. They possess the same sensitivities to solvents and cleaning agents as the art itself. Often times, the frame is more elaborate and decorative than the painting. Gold or silver leafed frames should never be wiped or cleaned with water or household cleaners. A clean soft brush or feather duster can be used to remove surface dirt and grime.

It is important to visually inspect paintings and frames regularly. Look for changes in or on the decorative surface. Loose canvas or small cracks that develop should signal a problem with the art or environmental conditions to which the art is exposed.  

Contact: Old World Restorations, Inc.  Cincinnati, Ohio for your Art Restoration and Conservation needs.  (513) 271-5459


Paintings Age Gracefully | Old World Restorations

by Administrator26. September 2012 15:57

Time can transform almost any work of art. Most paintings are extremely fragile and can easily become damaged. Many suffer deterioration both through their natural aging process, which is generally regarded as acceptable and from physical or environmental conditions and fluctuations.

All the natural materials used in the creation of a painting exhibit some degree of decay over time.  Paintings undergo the greatest change in the first year of their life as the solvent or liquid part of the medium evaporates and the paint begins to dry. Then the chemical process involved in the "drying" or hardening of the paint begins. When some paint dries, a pattern of cracks (craquelure) generally forms. This is often distinctive, giving clues to the composition and consequently may help to date the painting. These cracks are either aging cracks, which form in most paintings in response to the stresses within the painting: or drying cracks which form as the paint dries.  Surface cracks may also be an indication that the artist may have used incompatible materials or defective techniques. Generally aging cracks are thin, sharp and angular in comparison with drying cracks which are wide and rounded. If one looks very closely at the point at which the paint goes into the crack the difference is obvious as the aging crack has a broken sharp edge and drying cracks have a smooth rounded edge.

Oil paintings can become less transparent as chemical changes occur over time. Natural varnishes tend to darken and discolor with age, necessitating their removal and replacement.  The removal of a varnish layer requires great skill and knowledge and should only be undertaken by a trained paintings conservator. The replacement of a varnish is not necessarily a simple matter either.  Conservators must decide whether to replace a natural varnish with another natural varnish, knowing that the natural varnish will yellow and will have to be replaced, or with a synthetic varnish, which may not yellow as rapidly but also may not duplicate the aesthetic effect of the natural varnish.  The skill of varnish application has a great deal to do with the final appearance of the painting.  Conservators usually attempt to match the varnish to the type and sheen that the original artist may have used.

Other effects of aging include the change in tone or fading of some pigments, for example some greens may turn brown, blues can go grey, and reds can fade. These effects are reduced if the painting has not been exposed to light but, unfortunately, paintings are not usually viewed or displayed in the dark.

Many old paintings are commonly covered with a layer of surface dirt and grime, deposited over time from exposure to smoke and other forms of environmental contamination. Dust and dirt can settle into the paint layers on unvarnished paintings making it nearly impossible to remove without damaging the paint.  A white haze can develop in paintings stored in damp conditions where moisture has penetrated the paint layers. This effect is known as bloom.

Basically paintings are composed of incompatible elements, each having differing reactions to changes in relative humidity, temperature and light. Small changes are absorbed by the materials which are reasonably elastic. This elasticity, however, diminishes with age and eventually the painting cannot absorb the stresses caused by these fluctuations.

Paintings all run the risk of being scratched, knocked, dented, torn or punctured. Paintings on canvas generally show the effect of any impact or bump.  Even a slight tap from the reverse side can stretch the canvas enough to cause a webbed shaped network of cracks to form in the paint and ground layers over time.  A scrape along the back of the canvas will often produce a centipede or fishbone sort of crack.

The supports, too, are vulnerable to change and deteriorate. Paintings on canvas suffer from weakening fibers which lose strength through oxidation and which eventually become too weak or too brittle to support the paint layers. The tacks which hold the canvas to the stretcher can also oxidize (rust) and then further contribute to the weakening of the canvas. The wood of the stretcher is acidic and this produces more loss in strength in the canvas, especially at the angle where the canvas bends around the stretcher. Repeated fluctuations in relative humidity cause the canvas to slacken and then tighten and finally to go permanently slack. As the slack canvas sits in direct contact with the stretcher sharp cracks can form along the lines of the stretcher edge. The movement in the canvas will eventually cause brittle and stiff paint to lift and flake from the support.

Paintings can be protected to some extent from the effects of normal aging by good preventative conservation measures and from physical damage by good hanging, handling and storage procedures.

Preservation Tips…

·         Do Not hang paintings in direct sunlight.

·         Never store paintings in an attic or basement

·         Do Not hang paintings over a working fireplace or HVAC duct.

·         Do Not attempt to clean paintings yourself with household cleaners or solvents.

·         If your paintings are cracked and discolored, have them inspected by an experienced Art Conservator




Month List

Page List