Denise Souza Finney
Archival framing protects mementos
Denise Souza Finney remembers her grandfather as a man with a thick Italian accent who didn&
t talk much. He immigrated to America as a teenager, went to work for a San Francisco company that made copper pots and then bought the business when the owner retired. He was always taking apart mechanical things, Souza Finney recalled.
After his death, the family discovered exquisite drawings he had done while still in Italy, rolled up in a tube and tucked away in a closet.
I was surprised. I didn&
t realize he had studied anything like that and had anything saved,&
An artist with mat cutting equipment, Souza Finney flattened the drawings under books and then matted and framed the delicate drawings herself using archival materials.
— — Archival matting and framing materials protect — drawings done by Ashland resident Denise Souza Finney&
s grandfather — before he immigrated to America.
s special having something from your grandfather, especially since I didn&
t know him very well. ... It makes me feel like I have some artistic ability in my heritage,&
she said. &
s good, since I&
m an artist. His style was different than what I do. It reminds me of the importance of different ways things can be created.&
Securing drawings, photographs and other historic family items inside frames is one way to help protect and preserve mementos, while also putting them in a format where they can be viewed and enjoyed.
Souza Finney said people should always choose archival materials, pick mats and frames that suit the piece and &
except for oil paintings &
place the item under glass.
Carefully remove any tape on an item before framing because it will continue to yellow and deteriorate, and always use sharp blades for cutting mats, she said.
People without Souza Finney&
s do-it-yourself skills can still preserve their mementos.
Tom Houston, owner of Houston&
s Custom Framing Fine Art in Ashland, cautioned against buying ready-made frames and mats from department stores.
At custom frame shops, customers can get glass that screens out ultraviolet light and matting and backing materials that are truly archival. Many of the mats and backing materials found with ready-made frames are buffered with chemicals to reduce their acidity, but are not truly acid-free, according to Houston.
High quality archival materials available at frame shops can even contain molecules that absorb impurities and hold them away from artwork, he said.
Some ready-made frames come without mats or other materials that separate photographs from glass. The photographic emulsion can stick to the glass. Bacteria also can grow on photographs, drawings or other items if there is no spacing to allow air circulation, Houston said.
At a frame shop, customers also can get aesthetic advice, he noted.
If you take something to a custom framer, they will give you ideas that maybe you hadn&
t had to enhance the project beyond your expectations,&
s not inexpensive, but it&
s something you&
ll keep for a long time.&
Custom framing an 8 inch by 10 inch piece can range from $100 or less to upwards of $300 or $400, he said.
Houston said people have brought in antique christening gowns, a full size flapper-style wedding dress, gloves, eyeglasses, jewelry, military medals and ribbons, baby booties, runners and tablecloths, handkerchiefs, doilies and needlework. One client even had his father&
s poker chip collection framed, he said.
artwork also can be framed to create future mementos.
Both Souza Finney and Houston said people can choose lively, fun mattes and frames for those items. For people who don&
t have family mementos, or who would like to decorate their homes with historic photographs of pioneers, landmarks, events and buildings, a visit to the Southern Oregon Historical Society research library can make for a fascinating outing.
The society has a treasure trove of historic photographs of the Ashland Springs Hotel, the downtown Plaza where a flour mill once stood, Southern Oregon University buildings, Lithia Park, the railroad district bustling with crowds amidst train cars, scenery, sporting events, parades and hundreds of other subjects.
Society staff can make copies of photographs in the collection in 15 working days. Costs range from $15 to hundreds of dollars for four-foot murals, according to Library Assistant Kathy Enright.
Since visitors would be receiving copies of photographs, they would not need to invest in archival quality framing materials, making for a less-expensive way to decorate with reminders of times gone by.
The library also has extra photograph copies with slight technical problems, such as being too dark, that are sold at a discount, Enright said.
People who order copies of photographs also can find out the history behind the photo at the library, noted Harley Patrick, public relations and marketing coordinator for the society.
The society research library is open from — p.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, at 106 N. Central Ave. in Medford.
Staff writer can be reached at 479-8199 or email@example.com