Items of clothing are just one more thing that you can put in a shadow box! However, some materials can be just as fragile as paper and are just as susceptible to damage from light and other materials within the frame. For this project, the piece of clothing is a baby coat, dated at over 100 years old. The item is a treasured family possession and of high sentimental value. There were many factors to consider when framing this heirloom.
Fragility – For most items of clothing, like a hockey jersey, we simply sew the fabric down to the mat board and it hangs in place. For fragile items, the framing should make as little impact as possible on the item. To make as few stitches as possible and to reduce the pull of gravity on those stitches, a sloped support for the mat board was made and attached to the inside of the frame. This slope causes the coat to lie back just slightly in the frame and reduces the vertical pull on the stitches holding it in place.
- Acidity:Mat board is available in two materials – cotton and wood pulp. Cotton mats are naturally acid free and are of the highest conservation value. Cellulose (wood pulp) products carry a natural acidic value and contact with such materials can cause fading or damage to paper and fragile items. Because of this, these mats are coated or chemically treated to remove the acidity. For this project, the coat is mounted to a cotton core mat with alkaline buffered surface paper.
Frame: Wood inherently carries an acidity that can “gas off” into the frame over time. For the majority of framing setups, this is not a concern. However, to protect fragile items, the inside edge of the frame is sealed with a specialized Frame Sealing Tape.
- UV Protection: UV Rays can cause fading of nearly all materials over time. Regular glass will block 48% of UV light rays. Conservation grade glass will block 97-99% of UV Rays. Both of these glazing options are available in clear and non-glare options. Non-glare glass is never recommended for a shadow box as any distance between the subject and the glass of more than 3 mat board layers will cause the contents to look foggy. The ideal glass for optimum protection and clarity is Museum glass. Museum glass protects this family heirloom from 99% of UV ray and, with a specialized optical coating that gives true colour transmission and the greatest colour neutrality, will look great from any angle for years to come.