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Most people have at least one treasured item or image waiting to be framed and displayed - a family memory tucked away in a closet or drawer.

• A child's first finger painting

• A honeymoon photo from Paris

• Parents' wedding photo

• A limited-edition print

• A diploma, cap, and tassel

• ... The list goes on!

Often, the reason it has not been framed already is people aren't familiar with the process of preservation framing, which allows consumers to enhance, as well as help protect, valuable keepsakes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) light exposure, dirt, and dust.

Here are four tips for working with a professional framer to achieve a preservation-quality framing job to showcase and safeguard your treasures:

1. Choose a professional custom framer who shares your creative vision.
Professional framers are craftspeople who can help you select the best materials. This should be a collaborative, creative process. You'll discuss the different options available for the following three essential framing materials:
• Mat board – Available in a variety of colors. One or more window mats can be used, depending on your design preference.
• Glazing (glass and acrylic) – Be sure to request a UV-filtering glazing, which helps protect treasures from damaging light rays.
• Frame – The most visible component of your custom piece. There are many styles (profiles), and your professional framer will help you select a frame that flatters– but doesn't overwhelm – the items you have selected for framing.

2. All mat board is not created equal.
Mat board can vary widely. When preservation framing, a professional framer would only use preservation-grade board. Preservation-grade mat board can be labeled in a variety of ways, such as alpha cellulose (100 percent cotton "rag" or purified wood pulp). Any mat board made from wood pulp should also be buffered. Boards covered with fabric or other specialty surface layers may contain dyes, chemical components, additives, or adhesives unsuitable to be in direct contact with the item being framed.

3. All framing glazing is not created equal.
Picture framing glazing is available in a variety of types. Some specialty glazing offers unparalleled clarity, making the glazing appear almost invisible. Ultraviolet glazing blocks 98 percent of a certain section of the damaging indoor and outdoor UV light rays and helps slow down fading more than any other glazing option.

4. Frame it to last.
If you want your artwork or treasured possession to be a legacy for future generations, ask the professional framer to use only preservation-grade mat board and UV glazing. Make sure the framer is experienced in preservation framing techniques before entrusting him or her with your precious mementos and keepsakes.

Visit your local photo lab or custom framer for more helpful tips.

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