Every industry has its own language. Below will help you decipher what we are saying sometimes!

ATG: Initials that stand for “adhesive transfer gum,” a double-sided tape primarily used to apply dust covers or to hold mats together in multiple mat designs. The tape comes on a paper carrier and is generally, but not necessarily, applied with a special applicator–an ATG gun.

Acid burn: A brown line or brown coloration on paper that is the result of prolonged contact with acidic cardboard or other materials. Acid burns often are seen on the face of paper artwork that was matted with acidic cardboard mats.

Acid Free: A term used to describe adhesives, papers, mat boards and other framing supplies that have no acid in them. Acid-free materials should be used when framing works of art on paper. Mat boards, mounting boards, tapes, envelopes and other framing materials all are available in acid-free varieties. Some have been chemically treated to remove impurities; others, such as those made of 100 percent pure cotton rag, which are naturally acid free, and are generally the best choice for framing fine art.

Acrylic: Clear plastic sheeting used in framing applications. Acrylic can be used instead of glass to glaze a picture; which results in a lighter, more durable package. Acrylic also is used to make boxes to hold large pieces and three-dimensional objects, such as sports balls or memorabilia. This glazing is also recommended for cross country shipping.

Bevel: Generally refers to the 45-degree angle on the window opening of a mat board that has been cut with a mat cutter. When such a cut is made, the core of the mat board is exposed. A standard bevel, which leaves the core of the mat board showing around the window opening in front, is cut from the back of the mat board. Unless otherwise specified, it is this cut that framers generally mean when they refer to the bevel.

If a mat is cut with a reverse bevel, the 45-degree angle cut slants away from the surface of the mat board so the mat board core is not seen from the front. A reverse bevel often is used when a visible bevel would be a distracting element in the design. A reverse bevel is usually cut from the front; however, if the mat cutter head is reversed, this bevel also can be cut from the back.

Blocking: Refers to straightening and shaping a piece of fabric or needle art. The material is dampened, stretched slightly to straighten, and tacked to a board. It must be allowed to dry while tacked before it is mounted.

Brad: A small nail used in joining frames and, sometimes, in securing the backing board into the frame.

Compo: (Short for Composition) A plaster or clay like substance used in making decorative ornaments for frame finishing. Compo ornaments are applied to a wood frame base to give moulding an ornate, hand-carved look. Compo also can be used to repair or replace ornaments on a frame.

Conservation framing: Using materials and techniques in the framing process to ensure artwork is not damaged by framing. Hinging the artwork instead of mounting it, using high-quality acid-free boards and mats, using non-staining paste, and glazing with conservation glass or acrylic are generally accepted procedures used to help preserve artwork. The same procedures are sometimes referred to as “preservation framing.”

Conservation mounting: The process of attaching the artwork to the backing board in a way that will not harm the art. Materials used include rag board, rice or wheat paste, and mulberry hinges, or other inert (non-deteriorating or non-staining) materials and processes. Many framers call this process “museum mounting” or “preservation ” framing.

Dry mount, dry mounting: The process of using dry adhesive tissues to mount paper artwork or photographs to a board, using high heat and a dry mount press. These pieces are permanently attached to the board, and generally isn’t advised for valuable art.

Dust cover: A protective paper sheet (usually kraft paper) attached to the back of the frame to protect the contents from dirt. The dust cover often is attached with ATG tape laid along the frame edges; a variety of glues also may be used to attach the dust cover.

Foam-core board: A lightweight, plastic-centered board sold in large sheets. Foam-core board is used as a mounting board, as a backing board, and as a spacer in deep frames or shadow boxes. Foam-core board also is used in routine mounting of needlework and paper art. Foam-core board variations come from many manufacturers, with different compositions, colors and face papers.

Fillet: A very thin moulding used as an accent in framing inside another moulding or liner. It is sometimes used under the glazing at the edge of the mat window opening. Some framers also refer to edge of an under mat (a thin border that shows around the artwork) as a fillet.

Fitting: The process of putting together the pieces of the framing package: the joined moulding, glass, mounted artwork, matting, backing board, dust cover and hardware. Fitting includes cleaning the glass and checking the entire job for flaws before closing the frame.

Glazing: A broad term that includes a wide variety of glass and acrylic products used to finish and protect framed artwork. Varieties include regular picture framing glass, conservation/preservation glass and acrylic, anti-reflective and nonglare glass. Many manufacturers carry products that offer combinations of these features.

Heat Press: A mounting press that uses a combination of heat and pressure to attach artwork to a backing board. (See dry mounting, dry mount press.)

Hinges: Materials used to mount artwork in conservation framing. Strips of Japanese or mulberry paper are torn; starch glue is applied to the strips. The paper art is attached to the acid-free mount only by these hinges. In recent years, a number of hinging products have been introduced, including strips of paste-impregnated mulberry paper that are water-activated.

Joining: The process of putting together mitered sticks of moulding to make the frame. Joining requires applying glue to each corner, carefully placing the segments in the vise or joining machine, and then attaching the corners. If placed in a vise, the corners can be nailed by hand. If placed in a power joiner such as an under pinner, the segments will be held together by staples or wedges inserted by the machine from underneath. The nails are important because they hold the corner together firmly until the glue dries. However, glue is most important to provide a strong joint that will not separate easily.

Lacing: The conservation-approved way to mount a variety of types of needle art prior to framing. The artwork is centered on a mounting board, and the excess fabric is wrapped to the back of the board. With a needle and thread, the framer draws cotton thread through a corner of the fabric on one side and across to the opposite side; he continues back and forth across the work as if lacing a shoe.

With lacing completed across two sides, the work is turned and the pattern is repeated for the remaining two sides, until the work is held firmly in place around the support board. Lacing is time-consuming and painstaking work.

Length: Moulding ordered from a supplier in sticks of eight to 12 feet and stocked in inventory. It is cut to size by the framer after a customer orders a frame of that particular style. Also called “stick moulding.”

Liner: A moulding, usually fabric-covered, used inside the outer moulding in a frame design. A liner is not completely finished, so it would not be used as the only moulding for a frame. Liners often are used in place of mats on framed oil paintings.

Mat Board: A paper or rag board used over artwork to separate it from the glass. Mat board generally is made up of three layers: the face paper, the core and the backing. Mat boards come in a wide variety of thicknesses (plys), colors, textures and compositions, and many acid-free mat boards are for conservation framing.

Mat boards can be carved, cut or painted to add decorative elements to the frame design. Various colors and textures can be stacked, spliced and combined in numerous ways.

Mat board usually has a whitish material in the center so that a white line (bevel) shows when it is cut. However, some mat boards also have black or colored cores, resulting in a colored bevel when they are cut. Cores may be the same color as the face paper or a contrasting color. Colored-core mat board expands the design possibilities for framers.

Mat Cutter: Equipment used to cut mat boards. There are a wide variety of manual mat cutters on the market, including hand-held, straightedge, and circle and oval cutters. The primary components are a blade in a cutting head and some kind of guide device. In addition, several companies offer computer-operated mat cutters that can perform complex or volume mat cutting.

Matting: The process of cutting and placing a piece of mat board, with a window opening cut, over or around artwork. The mat serves two functions: It protects the artwork by separating it from the glazing and providing air circulation; and it enhances the artwork it surrounds. It may be a highly decorative part of the design, or it may simply provide a restful area around the artwork.

Mitering: The process of cutting two corresponding angles in sticks or lengths of moulding. When joined together, the angles form the corner of the frame. A square or rectangular frame uses 45-degree miter cuts; frames with triangles or other shapes in the design require other angles for the miter.

Miter Saw: A saw that cuts moulding at an angle so it can be joined with another piece of moulding cut at a corresponding angle.

Moulding: The material used to build a frame. Mouldings can be wood, metal, plastic or laminate, and they may be purchased from suppliers in lengths/sticks or as chops.

Profile: The shape or design of the moulding, including all carved or grooved elements.

Rabbet: The groove under the lip of the moulding that allows space for the mat, glass, art and mounting board.

Ragboard: A board manufactured from cotton or other fibers. Virgin ragboard was the only choice of conservators for many years and is still considered a high-quality choice for conservation framing. However, many conservators today find that chemically neutralized colored boards made of purified wood fibers also are acceptable for use in conservation.

Reveal: How much is showing, as in what the borders of the art will be, or how much of the bottom mat will show.

Strainer: A wood support frame to which the canvas of oil paintings or the fabric of needle art is sometimes attached. Strainers also can be inserted behind large framed items to stabilize the frame. Strainers are constructed as solid frames and are not adjustable.

(See “Stretcher.”)

Stretcher: A support frame made of wood onto which the canvas of oil paintings or needle art can be mounted. A stretcher has adjustable corners that allow for periodic tightening (stretching) of the canvas, unlike a strainer (see above) which is solidly joined at the corners.

Tacking Iron: Small iron used in dry mounting. It attaches the tissue and the paper to one spot on the mounting board so that nothing in the package shifts as it is placed in the press.

Under pinner: Power machine that joins frames rapidly and efficiently. It generally is operated by a foot pedal and can be either air-powered or manually operated. The two pieces of moulding are glued and placed in vises that hold them snugly together; a staple or V-shaped fastener shoots up from underneath and joins the pieces.

V-groove: The process of cutting two close, facing bevels into mat board so they form a “V” when the board is taped back together.

Art Terminology:
Animation Art: Artwork produced from animated films; may be described as “cels” referring to celluloid on which such films were produced. Some prints on paper also may be produced from animated cels.

Artist’s proof: This may be penciled in at the bottom of a print as A/P. Prints outside the standard edition which are intended for the artist’s own private collection and use as part of the original artist-publisher agreement.

Cartoon art: Original drawings/paintings of cartoonists that were originally produced for newspaper comics or editorial cartoon pages.

Cast paper: Artwork produced by placing wet paper or paper mache materials in a mold and allowing it to dry. The result generally looks like a plaster cast of an image, but is very lightweight.

Chop mark: An uninked, embossed stamp on a print which identifies the printer, artists, workshop or sometimes a collector. Also called a “blind-stamp.”

Crafts: Any of a number of items produced using original art techniques are today considered fine art crafts–blown glass, pottery, ceramics, clay pieces, textiles/weavings, wood carvings and other items that are created by artists are original and unique works of art. Some are very expensive and are very collectible.

Documentation: Information available on the edition of a print telling the artist’s name, the printer’s name, the location of the workshop, the number of prints in the edition, date, etc. Although this is somewhat important in print collecting, the condition of the print usually is more significant.

Edition: The total number of prints made of a specific image and issued together from a publisher.

Giclée: An image that is created or scanned into a computer, then printed on a high-speed ink-jet printer. (The term literally means “spurt ” or “spray.”) Special inks produce incredibly true colors without the dot pattern associated with offset lithography. With advances in technology, the giclée has continued to evolve, and has become an accepted printing method. The quality of the inks used to print, and the substrate on which the image is printed, affect the quality and longevity of the print. A giclée can be either original art (when the image is created originally in the computer) or a reproduction (when an image is scanned into a computer, then printed.)

Graphic: A term for any “multiple original” work of art on paper. The graphics media includes intaglios, serigraphs, and lithographs. An offset reproduction is not a graphic.

Intaglio: From an Italian word meaning “cut in,” intaglio prints are made from images cut below the surface of the printing plate. Ink is forced into these cut-out images and then forced onto the paper in a press exerting great pressure. Intaglio prints include etchings, aquatints, dry-points, engravings, soft-ground etchings and mezzotints. In some processes, the lines are cut out by hand with tools; in others, they are bitten out by acid.

Limited edition: This term refers to the number of objects that are available. In art, a limited edition refers to the fact that the article is one of a number of images in a published edition for which a predetermined number of impressions were from a plate. Once the pre-dertimed number of impressions are made, no more impressions are to be taken, assuring that the edition is “limited.” The number of impressions in a limited edition should be information that is available to the consumer. Both original graphics and reproductions are offered as “limited editions” from artists and art publishers.

Limited edition reproduction: Limited edition reproduction–(Sometimes referred to as “offset lithograph.”) Art that has been photo-mechanically reproduced from another medium and printed by one of several methods, often by offset presses. The edition size has been predetermined by the publisher, generally based on the artist’s popularity and sales potential.

Original graphics also are “limited editions,” but prints produced by original means–and do not exist already in another medium are considered multiple original prints, not reproductions.

Lithography: Artwork printed from a stone or metal plate or other flat surface. The artist uses a greasy substance to draw on the surface of the plate; only these greasy areas will accept ink. Once the plate is inked, high-quality paper is laid over it and the package is pulled through a press. To create a lithograph with a number of different colors, a number of different plates must be prepared and the paper must go through the press each time a new color is added. Lithographs are usually printed in editions of several hundred. Each print is considered a “multiple original” because the artist pulled each one from the press, or closely supervised the press operator. Each print is signed and numbered in the margin.

Mixed Media: Artists often combine two or more printmaking methods to produce unique mixed-media works. Sometimes collage techniques are added to prints to produce a mixed-media piece.

Open edition reproductions: Photo-mechanically reproduced images that are published with no restrictions as to the number of copies that will be made. Open editions usually are decorative pieces of art done in current colors, subjects and sizes, printed on inexpensive paper.

Photography: Photographic prints can be made from photographic negatives, positive transparencies or digital images, and printed on a wide variety of substrates, including photo paper, fine art paper and canvas. They can be black and white or color. Many artists, especially those whose works appeared early in the 20th century, are highly collectible. A number of contemporary artists also specialize in photography.

Poster: This art medium comes from the ancient practice of “posting” messages in public places. Used for advertising or other communication needs, posters were designed to communicate quickly and graphically. Posters are still used for that purpose today–movies, concerts, plays and other public events all are promoted with posters.

However, posters also are produced strictly as decorative art, usually inexpensively on inexpensive paper. Posters almost always photomechanical reproductions; there is always graphic type on a poster, which is the primary difference between these and open edition reproductions.

Vintage posters: Posters printed 50 to 100 years ago–are highly collectible and have investment value. These often are very large and very graphic, with subject matter ranging from entertainment events to advertisements for products such as tobacco, wine and household items. Many early poster artists have become very famous.

Prints, printmaking: “Print” is a generic term for a single graphic made by a variety of printing techniques. Once the term was applied only to original graphics, but in recent years, produced by offset presses and other printing methods also have been referred to as prints. The techniques used to make prints often are referred to as the “printmaking processes.”

Sculpture: Images created in three-dimensional form in a wide variety of materials–clay, bronze and marble are most common. Some sculpture pieces are reproduced from molds and are considered to be “published” works. Others are unique pieces created entirely by the sculptor.

Serigraph: Also known as a silkscreen. Artwork created from a stenciled design worked into a nylon or wire mesh. The design is created by blocking out areas that are not to be printed with a greasy substance applied to the screen, or with paper or other material. Once the design is in place, the mesh is positioned over high-quality paper and ink is pushed through it with a squeegee; areas that are not blocked are printed. A different set of screens–and an additional pass through the press–is required for each color the artist wishes to print.

When the artist, either alone or working with a master printer, creates the screens and prints the edition, generally several hundred of an image, each print is considered a “multiple original.” Some reproductions also are now produced using serigraphic techniques, and are called serigraphs.

Signed and numbered: At the bottom of each print in an edition, the artist pencils in his signature and numbers the print. The numbering appears as one number over another, for example, 15/30. This indicates that this was the 15th print to be signed and that there were 30 prints in all.

Unique: In art, this term is applied to original artwork. All original, one-of-a-kind pieces are unique works

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