We deeply regret to inform you that MH Fine Art Framing will be closing its doors at 150 West 28th St 2nd floor in NYC.


For our loyal COLLECTORS, ARTISTS and many RETAIL CLIENTS that we've developed a deep relationship with, please continue to follow us on FB and check our website for all updates as we look to do remote design as well. There is also a possibility of scheduled pick up and delivery dependent on volume.

It has been a pleasure to serve you and handle your precious works this past decade or more.

Thank You,

Nick and Heidi

The Importance of Acid-Free Materials

The framing industry has improved the methods and materials used these past few decades and it’s more evident over time as older works come in to the shop for reframing.

At one point, it was thought that corrugated cardboard (D) would suffice as a backing board for framed art. As you can see in the photo, the previous framer still had a concern with the texture of the board against the art and elected to place a barrier paper between the art and the corrugated cardboard. That idea came from a common practice of regular mats being lined with an acid free barrier (C) to prevent contact with the art and cause any “burning”. What wasn’t common knowledge then was that the bevel cut of the mat allowed the acidity from the degrading core to burn the art as seen in the darker border around the image (A).

Acid burn from materials that aren’t pH neutral generally occur from lignin, essentially the “fiber” in plants. Lignin are not acids, but do contain certain carboxylic acids. As the wood pulp degrades in lesser quality mats, it releases these acids. You can see this where crop mark like lines that extend past the burned area of the art on all four corners (A). That is a result of the acid leaching through the overcuts in the corners of the mat. More evidence of acid burn is in the discoloration of the back of the mat (B) from the corrugated backing board. You can actually see that the art and tape hinges also acted as a barrier, preventing the leeching of acid onto the back of the mat (C).

There is debate on mats that contain lignin as they do contain a small amount (up to 7.5% is allowed) but are bleached and treated before being turned into a board. These boards tend to be marketed as “Acid Free”, but most purists still believe there is still a chance of further digression and outgassing of acids despite the bleaching of wood pulps and additives such as calcium carbonate which supposedly nullifies the damaging effects of lignin.

The best way to prevent this kind of damage is to use museum board as a mounting board and mat. Made of 100% cotton rag, the board comes in different plies without wood based face or backing papers. We highly recommend the use of museum quality boards for precious, one of a kind works that are irreplaceable or are of immense value. 

MH Fine Art Framing will inspect your work and discuss all available archival options with you.

Fundamental Matting Design 101: Balance

These past years in the shop, I've taken an educational approach to selling our frame designs that support the art our clients bring in.  The key phrase in that sentence is "support the art".  We're all artists here, and often you'll hear me say "as much as framing costs can be, when you leave the room you want to remember the art and not the framing." Being artists, we use our color theory, knowledge of design and composition to enhance what your focus is on the art - not to distract from the visual.

As much as we try to apply our design knowledge to a client's work of art, we also know that it is their personal aesthetic that we are trying to achieve. However, there are fundamental "weight and balance" theories that shouldn't be ignored.

Examples "A" and "B" illustrate a balance with even borders. Image "A" has even sides on the mat with thicker yet equal sized borders on top and bottom.  The image of the Calla Lilly is a strong vertical composition. Decreasing the width of the side borders of the mat exaggerates the vertical feel.

Example "B" is the same flower with a mat that has even borders all around it; a standard display yet, effective. This approach displays the art "as is" without influencing the viewer with the borders.

Used more with strong horizontal compositions in art, a bottom weighted mat (example "C") "supports" the flower.  In the case of this image, the added width on the bottom border of the mat balances out the dark, negative spaces of the artwork on the bottom half of the painting. Conversely, it lessens the focus on the Lilly itself because the value of the mat equals the value of the flower (Compare example "C" to "B"). 

While I understand the need to stay within budget, squeezing your art into a ready made frame to get the visual effect of example "D" must be avoided. Thin top and bottom borders do not visually "support" the art and the wider side borders counter the natural vertical feel of this piece of art. The best rule of thumb on visually balancing art in a mat is to keep your bottom mat border equal to or larger than the side and top mat borders.  Visually support the art!

Study the balance of the borders in the examples above.  The artwork in each diagram is exactly the same size, yet each mat design creates a different feel on all of them.  Also, keep in mind that each piece of art has its own unique visual, textural and compositional qualities. The approach to balance will vary per piece.

Finally, don't be skimpy on the mats.  A wide border gives the eye transition from the frame to the art, allowing the eye to rest before it reads the art. A mat border can be too small, but never too big ~ in my opinion.

Remember, artists are in the business of the visual arts and are selling to visual people.  How the artwork is finally framed can determine a successful sale in a gallery or the presence in a room.