Blue Wool Scale rates on Mountboards

Conservation Issues

Blue Wool Scale rates on Mountboards

Postby Mary Evans » Thu Jul 28, 2011 9:04 pm

Most framers know that mountboards can fade and may then not look as good with the artwork as when newly framed which is particularly relevant for framing at Guild Museum or Conservation Levels where the target life is 35 and 20 years respectively. Currently all Cotton Museum mountboards are required to reach BWS 5. There is no stipulation for Conservation Mountboards though the BWS rate should be printed on the packaging. Some companies do print the BWS rate on the back of their faced boards.

However, the Guild’s Framers Committee are aware that it is rather difficult to find BWS rates on Conservation boards before purchasing. We recently asked mountboard companies if they would consider including BWS rates on their selector sheets next time they reprint, and also whether they would consider listing BWS rates on their websites. We hope framers using Conservation boards will find this information helpful.

We are grateful to Slater Harrison who are the first company to list the BWS rate for each of their Colourmount Conservation Mountboards on their website. This information can be viewed at www.colourmount.co.uk , click on ‘Range Selector’, then ‘Blue Wool Scale’. Background information is on the same website under ‘News’, then on ‘Blue Wool Scale Information’.

We understand Arqadia plan to list the BWS rates for Conservation mountboards on their website shortly.

Mary Evans
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Re: Blue Wool Scale rates on Mountboards

Postby prospero » Fri Jul 29, 2011 12:21 am

Apologies in advance if this is going to sound critical Mary, but this is Outgassing and a bit of controversy is traditional.

......particularly relevant for framing at Guild Museum or Conservation Levels


I would say the exact opposite. The subject of lightfastness of the surface paper of mountboard is completely irrelevant to conservation. It could fade to white and this wouldn't have any effect on the artwork. The issue is one of pure aesthetics and has no bearing on the long-term preservation of art.

Having said that, it is something I would welcome. :D
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Re: Blue Wool Scale rates on Mountboards

Postby kev@frames » Fri Jul 29, 2011 4:00 pm

90% of mats are white or off white or cream anyway, 80% of what I sell is. Most of them are marked "BWS 3"

What is the point of this excercise as far as the average picture framing business is concerned? How is this going to put any extra money in our pockets? (I can see how it may put extra money in some matboard suppliers pockets)

BWS is for textiles and printing inks, extending it to pigments in matboard face papers was stretching it a bit when Arquadia first started doing it. And if something is framed with conservation (UV reducing) glass, then the BWS rating of the pigment in the face paper of the mat becomes even more irrelevant.

It looks like tinkering for the sake of it. Max states that the FATG claim to represent the framers, members or not, whether we like it or not, because the FATG claims to represent the whole framing industry, but I don't recall anybody asking me whether I wanted BWS ratings printed on my boards or packs.
I'm still going to be buying arquadia hayseed by the acre (BWS 3) and my customers won't be wanting more or less of it whatever is printed on the packet.

so how does this emphasis on BWS help the retail framer? And not one member of the general public (customers in the average frame shop) will ever hear about it, or give a monkeys anyway.

Apart from being able to say "this dark coloured mat board will fade a bit slower" what is it for?
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Re: Blue Wool Scale rates on Mountboards

Postby Roboframer » Fri Jul 29, 2011 5:26 pm

Mary Evans wrote:We recently asked mountboard companies if they would consider including BWS rates on their selector sheets next time they reprint


Was this just FATG member companies?

Some, like Nielsen, state a load of ISO etc numbers for fade resistance and also state they use pigments instead of dyes.
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Re: Blue Wool Scale rates on Mountboards

Postby Not your average framer » Fri Jul 29, 2011 7:36 pm

Mary Evans wrote: We recently asked mountboard companies if they would consider including BWS rates on their selector sheets


The blue wool scale is an out dated test which most industries have not used for years and was used for basic comparison purposes, when I was a young engineer in my early twenties. I am now almost 59 and have not seen it used in industry since the late 1960's to early 1970's.

There is an ISO standard for "colour permanance" which is the internationally excepted test and used by industry world wide. Is there a reason why UK mountboard manufacturers don't want to use an internationally recognised standard which would enable british framers to compare the specifications of UK mountboards with mountboards produced in other countries?
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Re: Blue Wool Scale rates on Mountboards

Postby Mary Evans » Fri Jul 29, 2011 7:59 pm

I first became interested in the BWS rates on mountboards when an artist customer spent considerable time choosing a particular shade (of mushroom) for some artworks, a board from a range which I did not regularly stock. When it was delivered it turned out to BWS 1, which I interpret as meaning it is liable to fade fairly quickly.

I agree with Prospero that the lightfastness of mountboards has no effect on the preservation of artwork. However, as a framer, if I am producing a framing package that I hope will last 20 years then I would like it to be as good as possible for as long as possible. Therefore being able to choose a mountboard with a high BWS is preferable. Of course glass with a UV filter helps, but it is not 100%, certainly not over 20 years, and not every customer agrees to pay the higher price. And I have no problem with a bit of controversy, constructive criticism or other constructive opinions - that is what a forum is all about, learning from other people's experience, knowledge and opinions.

I would point out to Kev@frames that no one is forcing him to take any notice of this information, but there may be some framers who are interested.

Not all the companies contacted are Guild members. The list was given to me by the Guild office, and I think comprises all companies who have been involved with the Mountboard Standards, including Nielsen.
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Re: Blue Wool Scale rates on Mountboards

Postby Roboframer » Fri Jul 29, 2011 8:18 pm

Well I'm sure if one company lists the rates on their specifier others will follow to not be left out

A simple scale of 1-8 would work for most framers interested and the test seems quite simple too. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Wool_Scale But is it enough?
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Re: Blue Wool Scale rates on Mountboards

Postby prospero » Fri Jul 29, 2011 10:24 pm

Actually....Not many mountboards I have used fade noticeably. Not until you take the frame apart and see the vivid line around the outside where it has been under the rebate. :D Ironically enough, the worst faders tend to be boards faced with 'drawing' paper. Ingres, Canson, etc.
There is one situation where a fugitive pigment in the board can be very annoying. Ever put price ticket/label on the glass and taken it off to find a dark square where the ticket was. Very irksome if you have just sold the pic and the customer is just passing though. Even more irksome if it's a complicated mount with washlines or wotnot. :x The strange thing is, even if you try to salvage the mount by leaving it in the sun ( not with the art in I might add....), the dark patch never fades to match the rest. There is aways a visible line. :roll:
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Re: Blue Wool Scale rates on Mountboards

Postby Not your average framer » Fri Jul 29, 2011 10:39 pm

I can't help noticing that Neilsen, a company which is highly engaged in specsmanship and wanting to be the best does not appear to consider it's self to be disadvantaged by qouting ISO standards instead of the blue wool test.

I would point out that the BWS test does not indicate anything to do with hue changes due to not all colour components originally combined to produce the required colour having the same level of fade resistance.

This is where a subjective and comparitive method of measurement shows it limitations. Almost all ISO standards rely upon absolute methods of measurement are consist of a family of standards based upon common principles.

The equipment for conducting the BWS test may be cheap, but lacks the analytical potential to do more. Extra investment in meaningful technology gives a lot of cutting edge to companies that want to go places.
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Re: Blue Wool Scale rates on Mountboards

Postby Roboframer » Fri Jul 29, 2011 10:58 pm

There was a cotton board I used to use that came in transparent plastic bags which were 'envelope' folded - IOW the top of the plastic bag was up to four times as thick at the folds.

On several packs the shape of the folds on the front board were very visible where they had not faded, or not faded as much as the rest. It may have been some time ago, but the boards were still as good as it got for that supplier. I complained; maybe many more did too and then the boards came in paper bags just like the rest of the company's range did ..... and by now they've probably sorted it anyway ... or are still just using paper bags!

prospero wrote:Ever put price ticket/label on the glass and taken it off to find a dark square where the ticket was


Better - on another company's budget-but-"acid-free" range the square where the price label had been was lighter! Again - long time ago and I don't put price labels on the frame any more anyway.
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Re: Blue Wool Scale rates on Mountboards

Postby kev@frames » Sat Jul 30, 2011 1:57 am

Mary Evans wrote:....I would point out to Kev@frames that no one is forcing him to take any notice of this information, but there may be some framers who are interested.....

And I'd point out that I asked how this served the interests of the average retail frame shop, I wasn't questioning whether it would be interesting to some framers. Interests, plural, has a different meaning in this context.
And the question wasn't answered.
So here it is again. You (FATG) claim to represent my interests as a retail frame shop so....
How does this help the average retail framing business?
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Re: Blue Wool Scale rates on Mountboards

Postby JohnMcafee » Sat Jul 30, 2011 10:56 am

While it may not be a conservation issue, the lightfast-ness of a mountboard might be considered an indicator of the quality of the product.

If my supplier were to offer a more lightfast mountboard for a reasonable additional premium, I’d probably go for it.

And if the FATG encourages manufacturers to focus some attention on this property of their boards, well where’s the harm in that?
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Re: Blue Wool Scale rates on Mountboards

Postby kev@frames » Sun Jul 31, 2011 3:59 pm

we'd all welcome more lightfast boards. And it is not a bad move knowing which ones are better than others for fade resistance. For example I had no idea that colourmounts silver and gold are so liable to fading compared the the majority of the range.

But there is a good chance it is going to lead to confusion and misunderstandings amongst framers and the public (if the public ever get to hear about it, which is pretty unlikely), typically with people assuming a higher rated BWS number means it will have better conservation properties by implication: eg. it has already been posted by Mary, from the FATG, who obviously knows what she is talking about and has been in contact with the manufacturers, and she has specifically put it in the the "conservation matters" section after all.

So is this implying, inadvertently, that BWS ratings are relavant to the conservation of artwork?
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Re: Blue Wool Scale rates on Mountboards

Postby Roboframer » Sun Jul 31, 2011 9:47 pm

Unless my mind/PC played tricks with me, Mary put this in 'announcements' first, then it was briefly both here and in announcements and then just here.

So either she requested a mod move it here or it was moved here by a mod .... or something.

But anyway, if there is an actual stated figure on the BWS for mountboard at museum level, why is there not a stated level of UV filtration for glass instead of just 'high'? If the BWS is 5 for museum level, what should it be for conservation level - 4? If 8 is as high as the BWS goes is half way down or just one above any good? Is 7 or even the maximun 8 realistic?

If UV glass is only recommended and not compulsory at conservation level, is there much need to worry about the BWS for the boards used if the artwork itself could fade first?
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Re: Blue Wool Scale rates on Mountboards

Postby kev@frames » Sun Jul 31, 2011 11:05 pm

I never saw it in the other location, i should look in more often.
Arquadia have been printing BWS ratings on boards for ages. When I first saw them I (wrongly) assumed it was pertinent to the conservation quality of the board (eg BWS 3 minimum) till curiosity got the better of me and I looked it up.

I can see lightfastness being an issue for people who use slater harrison/colourmounts range of display boards, not so relevant to framers.
In reality if a customer wants a board in beaujolais, they'll have it in beaujolais regardless of whether it is BWS4 or not. And most of the museum boards are light pigments anyway.
At first glance it looks like the "bleeders" are higher BWS than the bleed-resistant conservation boards. So its a flip of a coin which is better for the artwork in the long term.
At the shop counter I can't see this affecting the range of bords most of us offer - for full on conservation the usual choices don't have much harmful pigment to bleed out and just happen to be higher BWS as a result.

Perhaps someone with a white coat from Colourmount will come an enlighten us why they went with BWS instead of ISO.

And while I think of it, what would be more useful on a day to day basis for those of us who generate enough board offcuts to require separate card recycling (in our case we have a board dumpster, and certain colours have to go into a general waste dumpster because they have "too much pigment" according to some arbitrary decion by the bin men apparently) would be a list of the board colours which are acceptable and which are not acceptable to the trade waste transfer companies - eg printed on the packets by everyone "recycleable" or "not suitable for recycling". From a commercial point of view it costs me 4x as much to get of general waste as it does to get rid of recyclable.
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Re: Blue Wool Scale rates on Mountboards

Postby Roboframer » Sun Jul 31, 2011 11:39 pm

kev@frames wrote:I never saw it in the other location, i should look in more often


Not neccesarily, I just happened to be online at the time otherwise would be as wise as you or most others. But when a topic is moved I think it should either state in the new location that it has been and where from and maybe also left where it was posted, but locked and with a note that it has been moved and where to.

This is assuming it was moved by a moderator and I think it must have been because ( I think) by the time posts/topics are view-able on the forum, the edit time has expired.
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Re: Blue Wool Scale rates on Mountboards

Postby Not your average framer » Mon Aug 01, 2011 7:45 am

kev@frames wrote:certain colours have to go into a general waste dumpster because they have "too much pigment"


Hi Kev,

This is due to the fact that the pulp mills which buy scrap paper and card pay a much higher price for white or very pale colours. There still is a market for other colours, but it's not considered financially worthwhile by local authorities.
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Re: Blue Wool Scale rates on Mountboards

Postby Mary Evans » Mon Aug 01, 2011 3:33 pm

Well, you don't get away with anything on the Forum! Roboframer is right. I first posted on Announcements - it was there for all of two, maybe five, minutes max. But then I thought that since this issue only appies to Conservation mountboards, perhaps I should have put it on Outgassing, so I moved it. Maybe it should have been Announcements after all??
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Re: Blue Wool Scale rates on Mountboards

Postby Roboframer » Mon Aug 01, 2011 4:21 pm

Neffer mind all zat - ansver zee kvestions!
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Re: Blue Wool Scale rates on Mountboards

Postby kev@frames » Tue Aug 02, 2011 12:17 am

Mary Evans wrote: ...... But then I thought that since this issue only appies to Conservation mountboards, perhaps I should have put it on Outgassing....... Mary


It says on their website this BWS rating applies to ALL colourmount colours, not just conservation boards.
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