Why is my paper art rippling?

The answer is — it depends. Most posters, photos and inexpensive prints should be permanently dry mounted and shouldn’t be rippling. However, if you are framing an original or collectible piece of artwork, the proper mounting technique will not necessarily prevent rippling. In order to keep the artwork in its original condition, the framer doesn’t permanently adhere the artwork to its backing board. In most cases, the artwork is hinged to its mat or backing board with an acid-free paper and reversible adhesive with minimal contact to the artwork.

What causes the problem? Usually changes in temperature and humidity are involved, and sometimes improper framing plays a part.  Paper absorbs and releases moisture at different rates throughout the year, especially in Minnesota, and sometimes the moisture will stretch the paper fibers enough to cause a noticeable ripple. In general, paper artwork will ripple more during the humid summer months and relax in the dry winter months.  If the work was framed improperly in such a way as to not allow the paper to expand and contract without rippling, that could also be a factor.

So what can be done about the rippling of original artwork?  In some cases rippling is just a natural part of the art and the paper it is painted on.  If you want to preserve your artwork properly, you live with a little rippling. Sometimes move your artwork out of a hostile environment (away from a radiator, out of the bathroom, etc.,) can help. Something else you can try is adjusting the lighting or placement of a picture so the rippling becomes less obvious. As a last resort, paper artwork can be dry mounted to keep it flat, especially in cases where resale isn’t a concern. However, keep in mind that dry mounting is, for all practical purposes, permanent.  If your picture was framed improperly, sometimes framing it properly can help alleviate the problem.

Obviously, we haven’t covered every framing situation here. At Carter Avenue we realize that every situation and customer is unique, so bring in any art you have questions about and we’ll help you make an informed decision about how to take care of your art.