Glossary of Terms

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Glossary of Terms

General Terms

Aesthetic: The science of the "beautiful" in a work of art. The aesthetic appeal of a work of art is defined by the visual, social, ethical, moral, and contemporary standards of society.

Medium: the material that is used to create an artwork, i.e. oil, acrylic, lithography, serigraphy, marble, bronze, etc.

Monochromatic: A color scheme that involves different values of a single color.

Perspective: A formal method of creating a three dimensional effect on a two dimensional surface.

Trompe l'oeil: A French term translated as "fool the eye," which denotes a painting so real that the viewer feels he can touch the objects.


Abstract Art: Not realistic, though the intention is often based on an actual subject, place, or feeling. Pure abstracion can be interpreted as any art in which the depiction of real objects has been entirely discarded and whose aesthetic content is expressed in a formal pattern or structure of shapes, lines and colors. When the representation of real objects is completely absent, such art may be called non-objective.

Abstract Expressionism: a 1940's New York painting movement based on Abstract Art. This type of painting is often referred to as action painting.

Art Deco: During the 1920s and 30s, artists used decorative motifs derived from French, African, Aztec, Chinese, and Egyptian cultures.

Art Nouveau: A style which evolved during the 1890s which used asymmetrical decorative elements derived from objects found in nature.

Bauhaus: A design school founded by Walter Gropius in 1919 in Germany. The Bauhaus attempted to achieve a reconciliation between the aesthetics of design and the more commercial demands of industrial mass production. Artists include Klee, Kandinsky, and Feininger.

Beaux-arts: A school of fine arts located in Paris which stressed the necessity of academic painting.

Contemporary Art: Generally defined as art which was produced during the second half of the twentieth century.

Cubism: A revolutionary art movement between 1907 and 1914 in which natural forms were changed by geometrical reduction. Leading figures were Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso.

Expressionism: A concept of painting in which traditional adherence to realism and proportion is overridden by the intensity of an artist's emotional response to the subject.

Impressionism: A painting technique in which the artist concentrates on the changing effects of light and color. Often this style can be characterized by its use of discontinuous brush strokes and heavy impasto.

Non-Objective Art: Not representing any object, figure, or element in nature, in any way; nonrepresentational.

Pop Art: A style derived from commercial art forms and characterized by larger than life replicas of items from mass culture. This style evolved in the late 1950s and was characterized in the 1960s by such artists as Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Claus Oldenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Larry Rivers, Robert Rauschenberg, George Segal, and Robert Indiana.

Mounting & Framing Terms

Acid Burn: Yellowish-brown lines that appear on artwork that was not framed using conservation materials. This causes the artwork to discolor and become brittle.

Acid-free: This general term is used to describe paper materials with a 7 pH, or very close to 7 pH. Acid-free materials are more permanent and less likely to damage or discolor over time. Below 6.5 pH or above 8.5 pH is not considered acid-free. see Conservation Framing

Acid Migration: The transfer of acid from an acidic material to a less acidic or pHneutral material. This may occur directly, when the two materials are in intimate contact. For instance, acid may migrate from boards, end papers, and protective tissues, as well as the paper covers of books and pamphlets, to the less acidic paper of the text. see Conservation Framing

Acrylic: A plastic noted for transparency, light weight, weather resistance, color fastness and rigidity. In addition to these qualities, acrylics are important in preservation because of their stability, or resistance to chemical change over time, a characteristic not common to all plastics. Acrylics are available in sheets, films, and resin adhesives. Some common trade names for the sheet form are:Perspex, Lucite and PlexiGlas.

Archival: Describes the framing procedure where all materials are completely acid free. see Conservation Framing

Adhesive Transfer Tape: Used in mounting artwork, backing boards and similar materials where two adhesive surfaces are needed. (Mats to mats, dust cover to frame, etc.)

Beveled Edge: A 45-degree cut at the inside edge of a mat board window. Exposes about 1/16" of the mat board core.

Conservation: The treatment of library or archival materials, works of art, or museum objects to stabalize them chemically or strengthen them physically, sustaining their survival as long as possible in their original form. see Conservation Framing

Conservation Framing: Describes the framing procedure where all materials that come in contact with the artwork; mat board, mounting board, etc, are completely acid free. It is designed to minimize the deterioration of the artwork caused by exposure to the environment.

Corrugated Corners: Protects the corners of a frame when in transit. Made from corrugated cardboard, our corners are adjustable to fit two positions, 3/4" and 1 3/8"

Double Mat: Technique where the artwork is matted using two separate mat boards, one on top of the other. The amount of the bottom mat you see is determined by the offset.

Dust Cover: Paper which is placed on the back of wood frames to protect artwork from dust. Usually made from Kraft paper.

Filmoplast P90 Tape: Brand name tape used for hinging artwork. A self adhesive tape with a high tear resistance and is pH neutral.

Filmoplast P Tape: Brand name tape used to repair torn paper or to hinge very thin or semi-transparent, lightweight artwork.

Filmoplast SH Tape: Brand name tape used for strength. Ideal for hinging mat board to backing board.

Float Glass: Float glass is raw, untreated glass manufactured by a process in which molten glass floats on molten tin to achieve a flat, uniform finish. Framing manufacturers add special qualities to float glass giving it added value. For example, Tru Vue etches float glass to give it a non-glare finish..

Floating Artwork: Matting technique where the mat board does not overlap the artwork. The artwork is adhered directly on the mat board with its edges exposed. It appears to "float" within the frame instead of having the mat board window covering its edges.

Foam Core: Stiff, lightweight material used as a backing (mounting) board to give rigidity to the image. Foam makes up the center of the board with a layer of paper on its surfaces.

Foxing: This reddish brown patches found on artwork that was not framed using conservation materials. This is caused by a combination of metallic salts, high humidity and high temperatures.

Frame Pair: One frame pair is equal to two frame sections. Two pairs make one frame.

Glazing: a term that describes the protective covering used in picture framing. It refers to either glass or acrylic.

Hardware: Describes the brackets, metal or plastic that are used to assemble a metal or wood frame - ie.

  • Metal Frame: 4-Threaded Angles with 2 screws inserted, 2- Hangers with screws inserted, 4-Backing angles, 2- Wall Protectors, 10-Spring Clips.

  • Wood Frame: 10-Screws, 2-Loop Hangers, 8 Spring Clips, 4 ft. Hanging Wire, 2 Wall Protectors, 1 Saw Tooth Hanger, 4 Corner Inserts (unassembled frame only)

Hinging: Procedure where a strip of Filmoplast P90 or SH tape is folded and attached to the artwork and then to the backing board or mat board. NOTE: As a rule you want to use a tape that is weaker than the artwork so that if the artwork is pulled the tape will tear, not the artwork.

Lamination: A process of reinforcing fragile paper, usually with thin, translucent or transparent sheets. Some forms of lamination are considered unacceptable as conservation methods because of potential damage from high heat and pressure durring application, instability of the lamination materials or difficulty in removing the laminated item, especially long after thetreatment was performed.

Lignin: A component of the cell walls of plants that occurs naturally, along with cellulose. Lignin is largely responsible for the strength and rigidity of plants, but its presence in paper and board is believed to contribute to chemical degradation. It can be, to a large extent, removed during manufacture. No standards exist for the term "lignin-free" and additional research is needed to detrmine the precise role of lignin in the durability and permanance of paper.

Linen Tape (Filmoplast SH): Tape containing a linen surface with an adhesive backing. Often use in hinging artwork.

Linen Liner: An inner frame that is wrapped in a white or natural colored linen material. Most commonly use within a larger frame to offset the frame from the artwork.

Mat Board: A colored paperboard material used to create a transition from the picture to the frame. UNCOMMON Stock uses Crescent mat board, which is 4-ply and 1/16" thick, Alphamat, our 100% acid free material for conservation framing. A full sheet of mat board is 32"x40"

Mat Board Core: The center area of mat board. Comes in various thickness, including 4-ply.

Mat Board Offset:The reveal of the bottom mat board when one mat window is stacked on top of another. A standard offset between the top and bottom mat is 1/4"

Mil: Unit of thickness equalling one thousandth of an inch (.001").

Mounting Board: Backing material which is used to support the artwork. The material is produced in three general types; Standard, which is used for general consumer framing, Archival, recommended for conservation/archival framing, and Self-Adhesive. All come with a foam core and paper surfaces. UNCOMMON Stock exclusivly uses Archival quality mounting boards.

Offset: The reveal of the bottom mat board when one mat window is stacked on top of another. A typical offset between the top and bottom mat is 1/4"

Plexi-glass: Acrylic material used in place of glass. It is distortion free, light weight and shatter resistant. Plexi-glass is made in Standard and UV (UV plexi-glass is generally recommended for conservation framing.)

Point: A unit of thickness of paper or board; one thousandth of an inch. For example, .060" equals sixty points. See also Mil.

Profile: The cross section illustration which displays the Height (H), Width (W), and Rabbet (R) of the frame, giving you a better understanding of its size.

Rabbet: The inner channel of a frame which holds the picture and any framing materials.

Spacer: Often made from foam core or mat board, it creates an area between the glazing and the picture.

Window: The opening in a mat board to view the picture underneath.


Acrylic Paint: a pigment in a plastic binder medium that is water based and adheres to most surfaces. Acrylic paint is used to mimic the look of oil paint. The advantages of acrylic over oil is that it is less toxic and it dries more quickly.

Avant Garde: A term describing art that departs from the existing norm in an original or experimental way.

Chiaroscuro: The dramatic use of light and shadow to create a mood or a focal point in a painting.

Collage: A grouping of different textured materials or objects that are glued together.

Encaustic: Pigment is mixed with melted wax and resin and then applied to a surface while hot.

Frottage: Textural rubbing on paper done with crayon, oil or pencil.

Gesso: An underpainting medium consisting of glue, plaster of paris, or chalk and water. Gesso is used to size the canvas and prepare the surface for painting.

Gouache: A watercolor medium which is mixed with finely ground white pigment to provide an opaque paint.

Impasto: The thick textured build up of a picture's surface which is created through the repeated applications of paint.

Mural: A continuous painting which is designed to fill a wall or other architectural area.

Oil Paint: A powdered pigment which is held together with oil, usually linseed oil.

Pentimento: An underlying image in a painting, as an earlier painting, a part of a painting, or an original draft, that shows through, usually when the top layer of paint has become transparent with age.

Tempera: Pigment which is mixed with water or egg yolk and usually applied to board or panel.

Watercolor: A pigment mixed with a binder and applied with water to give a transparent effect.


Artist Proof: Additional proofs from a print run that are not included in the regular edition. These prints are pulled for the artist approval and for personal use. These prints are also used to extend the edition beyond the original numbered run. Artist Proof works are marked AP either with or without a number that denotes how many were run.

Block Print: A relief-printing technique in which incisions made in a wood or linoleum block print white, and what is left in relief prints black.

Bon a Tirer: This is a French term which translates as "Good Pull". It denotes that the print that has just been pulled can be used as a guide to match up the remainder of the prints that are pulled in the edition.

Commemorative: 1.) Prints made posthumously from the artist's original plates. 2.) Limited edition items made to commemorate a specific date or event.

Edition: A limited number of impressions of a print. When the edition is complete, the plate or block is often cancelled by defacing it.

Edition Number: A fraction found on the bottom left hand corner of a print. The top number is the sequence in the edition; the bottom number is the total number of prints in the edition. The number appears as a fraction usually in the lower left of the print. For instance the edition number 25/50 means that it is print number 25 out of a total edition of 50.

Etching: A form of intaglio printing in which the lines of the design are drawn on the metal plate and then bitten (etched or eaten away) by acid.

Hors Commerce: This French term literally translates as "before business." Originally an Hors Commerce print was used as the color key and printing guide which the printer would use to insure consistency of the print run. Hors Commerce pieces are designated by the letters H.C. written on the print itself. These pieces are usually printer's proofs that are not for sale and are often used for promotional purposes. H.C. designations can also be used to extend the run of the edition.

Original Print: A print made from the original plate, block, stone, screen, etc. which the artist has created and printed from himself.

Plate Signed: Prints in which the artist's signature is put onto the plate itself, and then transferred to the print through the same process as the rest of the design.

Pochoir: A stencil and stencil-brush process used to make multicolor prints, for tinting black and white prints, and for coloring reproductions and book illustrations, especially fine and limited editions. Pochoir, which is the French word for stencil, is sometimes called hand coloring or hand illustration.

Remarque: A sketch made by the artist on the margin of an etched plate, often unrelated to the main composition.

Serigraph: Silkscreen print whose color areas are paint films rather than printing-ink stains. The direct technique is versatile enough to produce an unlimited range of colors and depths, which justifies to some extent the opinion that serigraphy is as much a painter's as a printmaker's medium.

Tirage: Complete print documentation given to the buyer upon purchase of a print. The "who, what, where, when, and how many" of the print.

Sizes & Formats Info
Mats & Mounting Options
Lamanage Mounting
Frame & Glass Options

FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions)
Glossary of Terms

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