CARE FOR YOUR ART
PROTECTING ORIGINAL WATERCOLOURS
TJILI's original artworks combine Wax Aquarell watercolour fine wax pastels, graphite pencil, and water, applied to paper. Her top quality watercolour pastels contain rich, perfectly dispersed pigments combined with white clay of the highest purity and fineness, water-soluble binders, and other additives.
They provide TJILI with an unsurpassable ability to make unique strokes on the paper, overlapping tones, and mutual mixing to create new colour tones. Her bold colourful strokes can be diluted on the paper to create beautiful patterns and technicolour swirls, using a brush or even just a few water drops. The water subsequently evaporates leaving the coloured pigment bound to the paper by the binder (such as gum Arabic).
Delicate in technique and character, a watercolour is susceptible to environmental and handling hazards. Collecting watercolours is a satisfying endeavour, but making sure they retain their beauty and colour requires some care and preparation.
We recommend to speak with a reputable professional framer, but below are some areas to bear in mind.
ARCHIVAL- / MUSEUM-QUALITY MATTING AND FRAMING
Since mid-2015 TJILI has been painting on acid-free paper, for example 100% rag fibre (cotton, linen, etc). Such paper can last a very long time if properly handled. When TJILI first started using watercolours her works were created on the cartridge art paper available from our local Singapore art shop. With care her earlier pieces should also last a long time but we don't know the paper brand and whether it is acid-free. As such, professional framing and managing environmental conditions for Tjili's earlier works will be even more important to minimise the potential issues (such as colours fading).
Request that your framer use archival or museum quality matting and framing. This means using 100% rag fibre matting (say 4- / 8-ply thickness) as acidic mat stock can, over time, burn the watercolour where it touches it or (at worst) host parasites that are destructive. Front and back mats should be hinged at the top with white linen tape or Japanese rice paper, and rice or wheat starch paste. You should avoid using transparent or masking tape, which can stain / burn the mat over time.
If you prefer your watercolours to be framed without a mat, the framer should use spacer strips of 100% rag fibre matting between the work and the glazing. Spacer strips will be covered by the framing and prevent the watercolour from sticking to the glazing.
Glazing is another critical aspect of the framing process. Resist the urge to use non-glare glass, which is finely etched to reduce reflected light, and actually absorbs light. Instead, opt for glazing with materials such as UV3-coated Plexiglas or Denglas. Be sure not to use glass cleaners that contain ammonia on Plexiglas or any acrylic glazing (which will yellow). Instead, use a very mild detergent solution and a soft cotton cloth, or a special cleaner made for Plexiglas.
The actual framing materials (wood, metal) are not as critical as the thickness of the stock and the depth of the rabbet (the lip or groove that holds the watercolour and glazing in frame). The weight of a watercolour is affected by its glazing. Larger works require larger glazing, and need a deeper rabbet. If the frame stock is too thin or slender, it can bow under the weight of the contents, which might pop out.
While you need light to appreciate the artwork, it is one of the biggest enemies of fragile watercolour pigments.
NEVER hang a watercolour where it will receive any direct sunlight. Over even a small amount of time the ultraviolet light in sunlight can begin to fade the pigments and dry out paper. Longer-term exposure can further embrittle the paper, either bleaching-out or turning an acidic paper an ugly yellowish hue (an acid burn).
It is advisable to hang a watercolour in a room with diffused incandescent or halogen light. Fluorescent lighting is as damaging as sunlight, producing ultraviolet light in high concentrations. If lighting is applied directly to the painting, be sure the light fixture is at least 8-10 feet away (e.g. a ceiling spotlight with low emission). To further shield your watercolour from damaging light exposure, you should use protective glazing such as UV3-coated Plexiglas in the framing.
The best environment for art is filtered air below 70 degrees at a relative humidity between 50-65 %. Like you'll find in museums and major galleries. Usually filtration on your home HVAC system is adequate (unless you live in an area of high pollution and dust).
Temperature and humidity fluctuations can play havoc with organic materials such as paper, so even if it is not possible to keep your art at optimal conditions, it is more important that it is not subjected to dramatic changes. Thus, avoid placing a watercolour over a heating vent, or over the fireplace, or by the front door. Even an outside wall could be problematic if not properly insulated.
In summary, with an understanding and application of the care required (highlighted above), a watercolour can be safeguarded to retain most of its original condition for posterity, so that future generations can appreciate your artwork and dedication to its longevity. There are watercolours that are over 100 years old that are wonderfully fresh and crisp because they have been well protected. Frequently, however, older watercolours are light-struck, a term that refers to the fading of some pigments, and the virtual disappearance of others. Nothing can restore the pigments to the original state so try to prevent this happening to pieces that you acquire.
The above information is gleaned from researching the internet and we are not experts in framing and caring for art. So please do speak to reputable professional framers to obtain the best advice applicable to your specific circumstances.
Our selected printing partner is Art4Site, a Hahnemühle Certified Studio and award-winning printer that is recommended by the Fine Art Trade Guild. Our range of Special Edition and Bamboo prints use only the highest quality substrates (Hahnemühle fine-art paper).
Every year Art4Site tests its prints against the blue-wool scale as part of its membership of the Fine Art Trade Guild. Their laboratory reports confirm that their printing is archival up to the high-standard accepted throughout the trade. They also use top quality pigment-based inks to ensure true, rich colour reproduction which is both accurate and very long lasting,
Again we recommend engaging a professional framer to assist with best presenting and protecting your art purchases, including advice on managing its display environment.