Thursday, November 18, 2004

I get asked often about whether it's a good idea to spray pencil artwork with fixative.

My artwork is un-treated (ie not sprayed with fixative) most of the time.

Framers generally want it to be sprayed with fixative, to protect against their smearing the work while they are framing it. Usually as long as the framer knows it's un-sprayed (untreated) then it is fine, because they arejust more careful.

I don't spray with fixative anymore for two reasons: Health risks of me breathing the stuff; and the fact that nobody knows definitively what the fixative will do to the artwork over time. I think it darkens and yellows the paper prematurely, especially when an artwork gets warm. I also fear it will make the paper more brittle years down the road. To best protect it over time, it's worth paying the extra dollars to have it framed with conservation materials (acid free, lignin free matting) - keep the artwork from directly touching the glass (that is the reason for mats), and then hang it somewhere out of direct sunlight.

If you decide you want to spray it with fixative, then don't let the framer charge you a big fee for it - you can buy an entire can of Krylon Fixative from any arts and crafts store for about $6 and just give the artwork a good sprayabout 12-15 inches away, using a 'z' type of arm movement from top to bottom (and make sure you're outside). To make a long story short (ha! too late, huh?) I just don't think it's worth it for the health hazards and notk nowing what it's going to do to the artwork over time, so I recommend not spraying it.


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