What are Normal Conditions?

More information for looking after your framed art work and preserving treasures.

When it comes to picture framing we often refer to how a product will perform under normal conditions. What does this mean? Normal conditions are affected by three environmental factors namely sunlight, temperature and relative humidity.

Light damage is the most pervasive and difficult to avoid. The damage is predominantly caused by the length of the light exposure and the intensity of the light source. Damage caused by sunlight is cumulative and irreversible. It is evident in several ways : – cellulose based materials may bleach, darken or yellow or become weak and brittle. Pigments and dyes may fade and/or change colour.

Temperature – normal conditions is defined as between 10 and 25 degree C. Artwork should, if possible, be kept in stable temperatures but this may be difficult in domestic environments.  High temperatures can cause chemical reactions to occur faster. Fluctuations in temperature can lead to dimensional changes which may cause pigments to flake, whilst photographic emulsions might be damaged and paper may cockle or buckle.

Relative humidity  is the amount of moisture present in the air compared to the amount of moisture air can hold at a given temperature. This is probably the most destructive environmental factor. Air holds less moisture than wood and paper therefore if the relative humidity of air changes, an exchange of moisture will occur between air and paper until equilibrium is reached. Increases in relative humidity causes dimensional changes and may cause paper to expand. Low relative humidity may cause paintings to flake, crack or warp and some organic materials may desiccate.  In conditions where the relative humidity is above 70 per cent this may provide the ideal conditions for the growth of mould and associated insect infestation.

Extreme changes or fluctuations in either temperature or relative humidity may cause considerable damage to artwork due to the differential expansion and contraction of materials. Should you have any questions or concerns about your artwork, please contact you framer for advice and guidance.

Source: Art Business Today: Mal Reynolds GCF Adv.

This entry was posted in Framing Info.

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