Framing and care of prints

Framing need not be very expensive; the simplest treatment is often the most attractive.  Take your time when visiting the framer, noting the effect that various mats and frames have on your art. Expert framers show amazing perception of color relationships, and other subtle factors. In general, however, framers tend to recommend treatments that are more bold and decorative than museums or the artists themselves would employ. In any case, original prints are made to be enjoyed for generations—even centuries— given non-destructive framing methods simple care.


  • We recommend a single mat, somewhere in the white > cream > tan range. Strong mat colors can add a striking decorative effect, but they distort the color balance intended by the artist.
  • An 8-ply mat (double-thick) will enhance your presentation, but will increase the cost of framing. It is an attractive option, not a necessity.
  • If possible, do not measure the mat window too close to the image edge or platemark of your print. A margin of 3/8″ to 5/8″ beyond the image or platemark (more for larger prints) will look great, and show the image-to-paper relationship that is a fundamental feature of printmaking. Only when hiding damage in the margin of your print might it be best to cut a tighter window.
  • The mat (in front of the art) and mount (behind the art) should be conservation quality. Standard, acidic mats and mounts will degrade the art over time (mat burn).
  • The art should be lightly affixed to the mount with archival tape hinges or mounting corners. Art should not be glued flat to mount (laid down).

No mat

  • Your print can be floated in a deep frame, showing the entire sheet.
  • This works best with prints on heavy paper, in very good condition.
  • The print is supported from behind, and raised slightly (floated) from the backing. It does not touch the glass in front.
  • This method showcases your print as a paper object as well as an image.


  • Original prints look great in gallery-style frames, in which the moulding looks narrow from the front, and deep from the sides. The narrow front will not overwhelm the art, while the deep sides add substance.
  • Gold frames often look good if the gold is good and dull. Too bright, and the art suffers.
  • Avoid thick frames and brightly colored ones. They will compete with the art and diminish it.


  • UV-filtering glass is no longer expensive, and should be used whenever framing original prints.
  • Museum glass will also filter UV rays, while appearing not to be there at all. It is expensive.


  • Never place framed prints where they will receive direct sunlight. Sunlight will fade inks and darken the paper (lightstruck).
  • Avoid strong artificial light as well.
  • LED lighting seems to be the safest household illumination for art.

Climate control

  • Prints should be protected from extreme fluctuations of heat and humidity. Never store in attic or basement.

No frame

  • It seems our walls are comfortably full of art, and maybe yours are too. As an alternative to framing, we like to keep some of our favorite, smaller prints in archival cardboard folders and boxes, pulling them out for study and enjoyment. This is the tradition of the cabinet print, and it befits the intimate nature of small, graphic works.