Home > Artist Tips, Uncategorized > Artist Tip: Framing Fail – Never, Ever Do This

Artist Tip: Framing Fail – Never, Ever Do This

September 16, 2011

I recently helped take down an art show that had been hanging for a quarter of the year.  One group of drawings, works on paper, were damaged by the way they had been hung.  The artist wanted the display to be clean and simple and used a cost-cutting framing substitute.  Small L-shaped nails held Plexiglas tightly against the drawings, keeping them nice and flat against the wall. 

The latex wall paint the drawings were hung upon and against got humid over the summer.  Each and every drawing stuck to the wall as if it had been pasted there.  The wall paint adhered to the paper.  I realized this in horror when I removed the nails and the Plexiglas.  I was expecting to gently hold the drawing so it would not flutter to the floor, and I was freaking out when it seemed the drawing was pasted to the wall.  There had been no backing material at all; each drawing was hung on the wall, right against the painted surface of the wall.  Every single one of the drawing had stuck to the wall.

Some edges of the drawings’ paper extended a little past the Plexiglas, so whomever hung the works had punctured the edges of some of them with the small L-shaped nails.  I added injury to insult on the first drawing, because the weakened part of the paper with the punctures from the nails had a few small tears as I removed the first drawing.  Using my fingertips was not going to work.  I borrowed a credit card from someone, and I used it to gently pry the remaining drawings free. 

I don’t have an easygoing attitude on the handling of my art, so I was practically hyperventilating over each drawing.  It left me frazzled for the rest of the night.  The works are insured for their value; but if I destroyed one, I’d never live down the shame.  If I had managed to really rip one drawing badly, I would had had a total panic attack.  The adhesion was limited to the outer edges of each page, but the centers had not bonded onto the paint.  There were only so many hours to take down the old show and get the new work up, and I had a complex series of paper sculpted pieces of varying sizes and shapes to hang in a group once the drawings came down.  Never, ever do this: if you care about getting the work back intact, do not smash paper or any absorbent art material against a painted wall.  Your art will be in risk of becoming wall paper instead of paper on a wall. 

Categories: Artist Tips, Uncategorized
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