Glossary of Terms

– A –

abstract art
Any art in which the depiction of real objects has been subordinated or discarded in favor of patterns, lines and color.

acid-free foam board 
A board made of foamed plastic (polystyrene) material sandwiched between coated paper from which the acids have been removed or have been chemically neutralized to raise the pH level above 7 (alkaline).

A vague term, referring to a material with a pH of 7 or higher. Sometimes used incorrectly as a synonym for alkaline or buffered material. Some acidic materials are chemically neutralized with the addition of alkaline products; other materials are processed to remove the acid-producing elements. (Acid-free materials may become acidic over time due to residual chlorine from bleaching, aluminum sulfate from sizing or atmospheric pollutants.)

acrylic paint 
Artists’ colors made by polymerizing a methyl methacrylate by emulsification, thus dispersing the resin into tiny particles in water. This fluid is used for a base in compounding polymer colors. Acrylic colors are water soluble when wet, but dry to an insoluble film. Colors are bright, dry quickly and are flexible.

acrylic painting 
An artwork executed with acrylic paint.

air brush 
An instrument, powered by compressed air, used to spray paint with delicate control and precision. Paint (usually a fine water color) is held in a small cup attached to the side of the pen-like instrument. Paint is drawn through the “brush” by the Venturi effect. The result is characterized by a very smooth, even texture and unbroken tonal gradations.

animation cel 
A clear plastic sheet onto which a drawing is copied, either by hand-inking or by a xerographic copier process. Colored paints are applied to the reverse side. One or more cels may be placed over a painted background, which serves as a setting for the action. In animated movies and cartoons, twenty-four cels are required for each second of screen time. Cel is an abbreviation for Celluloid (trademark).

Broadly used to describe materials that have the least harmful effects on the art being framed or stored and thus preserving such pieces for the longest period of time.

artist’s proof 
Historically, it was a print retained by the artist for his/her own use or sale. It may bear the designation A/P.

– B –

An extremely elaborate and ornate artistic style. This dynamic, theatrical style dominated art and architecture in Europe during the 17th Century.

A sculptural relief technique in which the projection of the forms is relatively shallow.

Originated in Java; a method of dyeing textiles. Wax is applied to sections of material which are to remain uncolored; the dyes do not penetrate wax. Once dyed, the wax can be removed by various methods, one of which is boiling. Repeated waxing and dyeing results in colorful patterns. The lines typically found in batiks are produced by cracking the hardened wax before applying the dye.

Cutting or shaping the edge or end of a material to form an angle that is not a right angle, such as the bevel cut on the window edge of a mat.

– C –

1) A heavy woven fabric usually of cotton or linen, used as a support for a painting. The surface is prepared for painting by applying gesso or rabbit skin glue. 2) Interlocked or woven fibers used as the ground material for needle art.

canvas board
Common gray cardboard or pasteboard to which a white cotton cloth, prepared for painting, has been glued or pasted.

canvas transfer
A process which lifts the image on a print off the paper support so that it can be transferred to a canvas mount.

To form into a particular shape by pouring fluid matter into a mold and allowing it to harden, such as making a picture frame ornament.

cast paper
Paper made by pressing the pulp into a die or mold used for casting or shaping, becoming a work of art in and of itself.

catalogue raisonnÈ
A catalogue which chronicles all known works of an artist, along with pertinent details on each piece.

A color photograph based on the silver dye-bleach system. The necessary colors (azo dyes) are built into the emulsion layers. These colors are bleached out where not needed during developing. Azo dyes produce more brilliant colors and have greater stability and resistance to light than any other current process. Ilford has renamed its process Ilfochrome.

clear glass
Glass made with a smooth or polished surface on both sides. It is not etched, coated or laminated.

climate control
The control of temperature and relative humidity to produce an environment with little fluctuation, ideally 50 percent relative humidity and 70 degrees F.

Artwork created by securing pieces of paper, fabric or other materials onto a substrate. Though basically two-dimensional, it may have a sculptural effect.

The arrangement of elements, shapes and colors in a work of art.

conservation (preservation)
In framing, it is the careful maintenance and protection of works of art. In conservation (preservation) framing, using materials and procedures that will have no adverse effects on a piece of artwork and will protect the artwork from external damage.

Certified Picture Framer. One who has passed the Professional Picture Framers Association’s certification examination.

– D –

deckle edge
The feathery edge of a sheet of handmade paper, caused by the deckle or frame which confines the pulp to the mold. Also present on some machine-made papers, caused by the rubber deckle straps at the sides of the paper machine.

Decoration of a surface by covering it completely with cut out paper forms. The process used in making collages.

1) A set of two prints making one complete image. 2) An ancient writing tablet consisting of two pieces of wood or ivory hinged together, with the inner sides waxed for writing on with a stylus.

– E –

The total number of copies printed from the same plates or blocks and published about the same time.

1) A glossy substance, usually opaque, applied by fusion to the surface or metal, pottery, etc., as an ornament or for protection. 2) Any of various enamel-like varnishes or paints.

Lines cut into a plate by hand with a steel burin or graver; no acid is used. The metal which is displaced in cutting is smoothed with a scraper which results in crisp, meticulous lines. Then the entire plate is thoroughly inked, with care taken to force the ink down into all of the lines, completely filling them. The surface is wiped clean, leaving the incised lines filled. A press is used to transfer the image onto paper.

A printing process. A metal plate is covered with an acid-resisting ground. The design is scratched through this ground, exposing the metal beneath. The plate is then immersed in an acid bath, causing the scratched or exposed areas to be eaten away. The plate is wiped clean, inked and the higher surfaces cleaned again, allowing the ink to remain in the incised areas. A press is then used to transfer the image onto paper. (n) Art work so executed.

– F –

fabric mat
A mat which has been covered with fabric.

fillet (wood)
A small molding with profile that may be used as an edging on a mat or frame lip. Profiles may differ somewhat. May also be called a slip.

The process of assembling glass, mats, artwork and filler board into a picture frame, including the addition of a dust cover, hangers and bumper pads.

A means of securing artwork to a rigid support so all edges are visible.

float mat
A window mat raised or elevated off the underneath surface by spacers.

A molding designed to give the artwork the appearance of floating within the frame. Floater frames have a rabbet in reverse; the artwork is fitted in from the front.

– G –

gicleÈ (gee-clay)
Giclee’ – is a French term meaning “spraying of ink.” Printing is directly from information obtained from the original painting,Ý Iris Printers spray microscopic drops of color on to a fine art paper or canvas. Displaying the full color spectrum, these artworks have vibrant, brilliant colors and a velvety texture.Ý This gives the finished product the look and texture of an original painting.

The art of adhering thin metal, silver or gold leaf to a surface.

A semi-transparent paper. A smooth, non-abrasive surface makes it ideal for interleaving or overlaying delicate artwork, such as a fragile etching or pastel painting, and it will not adhere to the varnish on oil paintings.

1) A protective interface between the environment and the work of art including glass and acrylic sheets. 2) In oil painting, a thin layer of a transparent coating applied to the dried painting. 3) In ceramics, a thin coating applied to a piece before it is put in the kiln. It functions as a means to waterproof the object, change its color or generally alter its appearance. 4) On frame molding, a thin coat of color applied over a base finish to change its appearance.

gold leaf
A very thin sheet of beaten gold used in gilding. Also referred to as “loose leaf.” Gold leaf is available in 12-23 karat gold. Each leaf is cut to a standard 3 3/8 inches square and has a thickness of approximately 1/300,000 of an inch. Gold leaf is packaged in books of 25 leaves, each leaf separated by tissue paper. A pack or box of gold leaf contains 20 books, for a total of 500 leaves.

1) An opaque watercolor paint. 2) A painting done with such a medium.

– H –

hand-pulled print
A print that has been manually lifted from the printing plate.

hors de commerce
Similar to an artist’s proof. Impressions pulled outside of the regular edition for the use by the publishers.

– I –

1) The printed or colored portion of a print. 2) A physical likeness or representation of a person, animal or thing; photographed, painted, sculpted or otherwise made visible.

A mark or depression made by pressure.

A term that includes all metal plate engraving and etching processes in which the printing areas are recessed, e.g., engraving, etching, drypoint and aquatint.

– J –

Japanese paper
Handmade paper with a web of strong naturally formed fibers; ideal for hinging purposes. The best are made with 100 percent kozo or gampi fibers, which have not been bleached or chemically processed.

– K –

– L –

A frame or object that has had gold, silver or metal leaf applied to it.

limited edition
The issue of something collectible, such as prints, limited to a certain quantity of numbered copies. The first number indicates the number of the piece; the second number indicates the total quantity of the edition, e.g., 135/250.

1) A frame molding used within the outer molding. May be covered with fabric, often velvet or linen. Many liners are made from fully finished frame stock, including gold or silver. Sometimes called an insert. If over 2 1/2 inches wide, called a panel. 2) Inner mats and fillets are also called liners.

A generic term used to designate a print made by a planographic process, such as an original lithograph done on a lithographic stone or a commercial print made by a photo-mechanical process

The traditional planographic printing method which involves drawing or painting with greasy crayons or inks on a limestone block. The surface is then moistened with water. An oily ink is applied to the stone and adheres only to the drawing. The ink is repelled by the water which has soaked into the areas around the drawing. The print is pulled by pressing paper against the inked drawing, using a press. Variations of the technique are widely used in commercial reproductions.

– M –

In sculpture, a small scale model.

(window mat) A border, usually made from mat board, placed around a print, photograph, etc., to serve as a spacer or separation between the picture and the frame.

mat board
A multi-ply board usually comprised of a core, adhesive, facing and backing paper. Commonly four-ply, but available in other thicknesses. May be rag board or made of wood fiber. The surface paper comes in a wide variety of colors. In framing, used to make the window mat and as a mounting board for artwork.

1) The specific tool and material used by an artist, e.g., brush and oil paint, chisel and stone. 2) The mode of expression employed by an artist, e.g., painting, sculpture, the graphic arts. 3) A liquid that may be added to a paint to increase its manipulability without decreasing its adhesive, binding or film-forming properties.

Collection of objects that have a sentimental value.

An intaglio process in which the plate is pitted all over with a tool called a “rocker.” By scraping or burnishing the raised burrs, gradations of light and shade may be produced in the printed image. Mezzotints are characterized by a rich, velvet overall appearance with numerous tonal ranges.

mint condition
Describes artwork which is in the same condition as it was when originally finished, printed, etc. Taken from coinage, in the same condition as it was when it was minted.

(mwa-ray) A lustrous watermark of wavy design placed on fabric by passing it through heated ridged rollers under pressure.Ý Makes an attractive fabric pattern covering for mats.

A one-of-a-kind print made by painting on a sheet or slab and transferring the still wet painting to a sheet of paper by a hand method; if the painting is done on a metal sheet, it may be run through a press.

– N –

non-glare glass
Glass which has been etched on one or both sides, which defuses the light, resulting in a minimum of glare and reflection.

– O –

A process in which the printed image is transferred, or offset, from one roller or plate to another and then transferred to the printing paper. Offset lithographs should be termed reproductions rather than originals prints. This process eliminates the need to draw the image in reverse on the stone or plate.

oil paint
Artists’ colors made by dispersing pigments in linseed oil or another vegetable drying oil and having the consistency of a smooth paste.

open edition
An edition having an unlimited number of prints in it.

A unique piece of artwork that cannot be exactly duplicated, e.g., an oil painting on canvas. While the image may be duplicated as a print, the reproduction is not oil paint on canvas.

In animation art, a portion of a scene, generally a foreground element, painted on or applied to a cel and laid over the action to create the illusion of depth.

– P –

1) A non-absorbent surface on which to mix paint. 2) The set of colors on such a surface. 3) The range of colors a given artist or school of art prefers.

palette knife
A thin blade of varying flexibility set in a handle; used for mixing paints or applying them to a surface.

1) A crayon made from pigment mixed with just enough biding agent to hold it together. 2) A drawing (painting) made with pastel crayons.

1) A film or encrustation, usually green, appearing gradually on a surface of copper and bronze, due to weathering and as a result of oxidation. 2) An opaque toning used to stimulate aging or to dull the brightness of a gilded surface. 3) A deep, soft polished gleam acquired by wood and metal after years of wear and polishing.

A printing technique in which a negative is exposed to a photo-sensitized lithographic plate, the image is then developed on the plate. Non-image areas are desensitized and the image area becomes an ink attracting surface. The plate is inked and printed in the normal manner.

A painting, sculpture, drawing, photograph or other representation of a particular individual.

1) An inexpensive printed reproduction of a piece of artwork. 2) A placard or print intended for posting in a public place as an advertisement.

The Professional Picture Framers Association. A professional trade association that serves the art and framing industry.

A generic term used to describe an impression made on paper from a block, plate or film negative, for example.provenance
A record of previous ownership and previous locations for a work of art.

– Q –

– R –

rag board
Mat board from non-wood products such as cotton linters or cotton which are naturally lignin free, stable and durable. Made with a non-acidic (pH neutral or alkaline if buffered) sizing.

rag paper
Paper with all the qualities and benefits of rag board, but much thinner. Used to make photo corners and for other light weight applications in framing.

register marks
In multicolor printing, small dots, circles, crosses, etc., placed in the margin of the key (main) block, plate, etc., and which are transferred exactly to each printing surface made from the key. These marks enable the printer to align all the printing surfaces, so that each color impression will be in register with all the other impressions.

regular glass
A designation for standard single-strength window glass (2.5 mm).

1) A small sketch engraved in the margin of a printing plate, usually removed before the final edition is printed. 2) A printing plate with such a mark.

Produced after the original edition was issued and from the original plates or blocks.

A copy.

Cosmetic repair of an object to recreate its original appearance.

Produced after the original edition was issued and from the original plates or blocks. Often made years after the artist’s death.

rice paper
A common misnomer for Japanese paper. A smooth, white material favored by Chinese painters; cut off, in a spiral manner, from the pith of the Fatsia papyrifera tree. Not a paper, similar to papyrus and tapa in that regard.

– S –

secondary market
An arena where limited edition prints are resold after the edition has been sold out at the original sources.

1) A dark brown color. 2) A dark brown pigment, used in paints and inks.

Artwork created to resemble an animation cel, but using screen printing techniques.

A method of printing using a hand-cut or photographically prepared stencil attached to silk or a polyester fabric through which color is forced. Also, referred to as a silk-screen or screen print.

shadow box
A frame made from a deep molding in which three-dimensional objects may be displayed.

A stencil process of printing in which a cloth (originally silk) is stretched over a heavy frame and the design painted by tusche or affixed by stencil. It is printed by having a squeegee force color through the pores of the fabric in areas not blocked out. The term silk-screen now implies a commercial use, the same process used in fine art is termed serigraph.

silver leaf
Silver that has been beaten into thin sheets. Silver leaf is more delicate than imitation gold, but sturdier than genuine gold; can be cut with scissors and picked up with fingers. A very versatile leaf; the color can be modified with a tinted shellac, sometimes known as gamboge.

stamp print
A limited edition print of a game stamp, e.g., duck stamp print.

still life
A painting or drawing of a group of inanimate objects contrived by the artist according to some theme, either symbolic or merely aesthetic.

To pull a fabric taut over a rigid support and secure; e.g., a canvas over a stretched frame or a needle art over foam board.

A term from substratum meaning a layer lying under another. Generally used to denote a foundation material upon which an item is mounted or otherwise functions as a carrier.

– T –

1) A fabric consisting of a warp upon which colored threads are woven by hand to produce a design, often pictorial, used for wall hanging, on furniture, etc. 2) A machine woven reproduction of this fabric.

A tree that grows in Southern India and Southeast Asia. The wood is extremely hard (ordinary nails cannot be driven into it), very heavy (logs sink in water) and uniquely resistant to attack by insects, fungi and chemicals (it is not harmed by acids or alkalis). The color varies from yellow brown to rich brown. It has a course texture, usually is straight grained and has an oily feel; excellent dimensional stability and durability.

1) A set of three paintings or bas reliefs, related in subject matter and connected side by side. The two outside half-panels (called wings) may be closed over the central panel. 2) A set of three prints that make one complete image.

– U –

ultraviolet (UV) light
Short, high energy invisible light waves beyond violet in the spectrum with a length of 250 to 400 nanometers.

UV filtering acrylic sheet
A glazing material consisting of an acrylic sheet which has been formulated to remove the damaging ultraviolet rays from light.

– V –

1) The degree of lightness or darkness of a hue. 2) The general degree of lightness or darkness of a surface.

– W –

1) The technique of painting with pigments dispersed in a gum Arabic solution. 2) A work of art so produced. 3) The paint used in this technique.

A design, pattern or mark on paper, usually produced by a raised area on which the paper is made. Watermarks on handmade papers are made by very low relief molds or designs of fine wire set on the screen on which the moist pulp collects.

wood engraving
A highly exacting technique involving engraving on a piece of polished endwood. Endwood is a cross-cut section of wood which has little or no perceptible grain. This allows for cutting of delicate lines in any direction.