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Glossary of Art & Framing Terms



Delignification—the removal of all or part of the lignin from the wood by chemical treatment.

Deterioration—A permanent change in physical properties that diminishes or impairs quality, character, or value.

Dextrins—British gum—a soluble, gummy substance, formed from starch by the action of heat, acids, or ferments, occurring in various forms and having dextrorotatory properties: used chiefly as a thickening agent in printing inks and as a substitute for gum arabic.

Dimensional Stability—That property of paper that relates to the constancy of its dimensions, especially as they are affected by changes in moisture content and/or temperature.

Discoloration—a discolored marking or area; stain or the state of being discolored.

Durability—The degree to which a paper retains its original qualities under continual usage. This is not to be confused with permanence which is the degree to which a paper resists chemical action which may result from impurities in the paper itself or agents from the surrounding air.

Durable—Capable of withstanding wear and tear or decay. A manufactured product that can be used over a relatively long period without being depleted or consumed.

Dye—Colored soluble substance which imparts a more or less permanent color to another material.

E’s back to A-Z

Embellishment—A term most often used with mat decoration, the creating of lines, colored panels, applied paper and the like.

Erasability—in matting the ability of a surface to with stand the removal of light pencil lines with a rubber or gum eraser

Equilibrium—a state of balance due to the equal action of opposing forces.

F’s back to A-Z

Facing Paper—Lightweight paper, such as fancy cover, book, and manila. It is pasted on cores or pulp boards of various thickness to produce boards mounting and mat boards requiring plain or fancy covering.

Facing—One of the two outer layers of a laminate. A covering in front, as an outer layer.

Fade—To lose brightness or brilliance gradually. To disappear gradually. To lose or cause to lose brightness, brilliance, contrast, or definition of line, form and color.

Fading of Colors—The gradual loss of color of pigments and dyes and inks that are chemically unstable or are exposed to extreme conditions that accelerate changes. ( see Permanence)

Fading—A gradual change in color of a paper. It is usually applied to the change produced by light.

Fast Color—A color which is resistant to the action of external agents, such as light, acids, alkalis. Paper color which is resistant to change from aging or from exposure to light, heat, or other adverse conditions. Nonfading over long exposure to daylight. Lightfast, Sunfast and Colorfast are variations of the term.

Fiber—Paper pulps are composed of fibers, usually of vegetable origin (see cellulose).

Fiber Analysis—Microscopic differentiation and counting of fibers to determine the approximate percentages by species or type in a given sample of pulp or paper.

Fiber Composition—Percentages of different fibers present in a particular sample of stock, as determined by fiber analysis.

Fiber Content—Content of cellulosic material, usually expressed as a percentage of the moisture-free paper. The fiber content is usually determined by weighing a moisture-free sample before and after ignition, assuming all volatile matter as fiber.

Filler—In paper, an inert finely divided material added to a paper making furnish to modify the sheet properties by filling in the void spaces between fibers, most commonly a mineral filler.

Finish—In paper the surface characteristics . (see speciality serfaces)

Foam Board—Usually a polystyrene-centered board laminated on each side with one ply of paper (kraft, rag, alpha cellulose, sulfite). Used in picture framing for mounting, backing and as filler board.

Formation—In reference to paper, a term describing the manner in which paper fibers entwine. Formation affects papers density, porosity and visual characteristics.

Fugitive Colors—Pigments and dyes that fade and lose color rapidly on exposure to light.

Furnish—The mixture of various materials that are blended in the stock suspension from which paper or board is made. The chief constituents are the fibrous material (pulp), sizing materials, wet-strength or other additives, fillers and dyes.

G’s back to A-Z

Gelatin Gelatins—A colorless or slightly yellow, transparent, brittle protein formed by boiling specially prepared skin, bones, and connective tissue of animals and used in foods, drugs, and photographic film. The best grades of gelatin are colorless, odorless, and tasteless, used as a high-purity alternative for glue in paper coating and sizing.

Gloss Finish—Extra smooth finish applied to paper, generally to achieve superior printability. Also called Mirror Finish. ( see finish Effects)

Gloss—A surface luster or shine.

Glucose—a sugar, C6H12O6, having several optically different forms, obtained by the incomplete hydrolysis of starch.

Glue—Adhesive of animal origin, composed of complex protein structures. In modern usage, the terms, “glue” and “adhesive” are used interchangeably and may also include petrochemical adhesives. (see Adhesive)

Groundwood Papers—Low cost papers made primarily from mechanical pulps. Such papers are characterized by relatively high lignin content.,

Groundwood Pulp—A mechanical wood pulp of relatively short fibers.

H’s back to A-Z

Hardwood pulp—produced from hardwood

Hemicellulose—any of a group of gummy polysaccharides, intermediate in complexity between sugar and cellulose, that hydrolyze to monosaccharides more readily than cellulose.

High-Alpha Pulp (Alpha Pulp) ( Alphacellulose)—Bleached wood pulp that has an alpha cellulose content above 88%.

Hygroscopic—absorbing or attracting moisture from the air.

I’s back to A-Z

Illustration Board—A pasted board used principally for ink and water color. A typical drawing paper is pasted on both sides of the board (usually a filled pulp-lined board or a pasted board). Usual properties of drawing paper, such as finish and sizing, are essential, but hard sizing and good erasing quality are most important.

Impurities—Something that contaminates, pollutes, taint or makes impure.

Inert—having little or no ability to react, as nitrogen that occurs uncombined in the atmosphere.

Infrared—The invisible part of the spectrum between radio waves and the red portion of the visible spectrum, consisting chiefly of thermal rays. The Infrared Spectrum consists of wavelengths from 700 nanometers (just longer than red in the visible spectrum), to 1,000,000 nanometers (on the border of the microwave region).

Infrared Spectroscopy—The science dealing with the spectral analysis of compounds using radiation in the infrared region.

Ink Absorptivity—Property of paper that characterizes the rate and amount of ink vehicle penetration into the paper substrate.

Ink Resistance—Resistance of a paper surface to ink penetration.

Ink—A fluid, semi-fluid, or paste material containing coloring matter and used for pen and brush drawing, writing, and printing. Inks for these purposes differ from one another in their composition and physical properties. Commonly, a colored liquid used for writing and drawing. Printing inks are generally thicker and viscous. Inks may be permanent (non-fading), or may fade in time.

Inorganic Pigments—Those natural pigments prepared from minerals and ores (e.g., earth colors), or those synthetically made which are chemically prepared from the metals (e.g., metallic oxides). The most stable and inert pigments are in this class.

Inorganic—Being or composed of matter other than plant or animal. Mineral.

Interleaving Paper—A paper (usually of tissue weight) which is placed in front of illustrations in books or between two or more engravings, etchings, sheets of cellulosic films, etc.

Interleaving Tissue-A tissue, used for separating or protective purposes, in a variety of grades.

J’s & K’s back to A-Z

Kappa Test-Kappa Number—modified permanganate test value on pulp which has been corrected to 50% consumption of the chemical. Kappa number has the advantage of a linear relationship with lignin content over a wide range. For pulp samples under 70% yield, the percent Klason lignin is approximately equal to the kappa number times a factor of 0.15

Klason lignin—lignin content of pulpas determined by the Klason Procedure. Syn. Acid-Insoluble Lignin

Kraft Pulp—Pulp produced by a process where the active cooking agent is a

mixture of sodium hydroxide and sodium sulfide. The term “kraft” is commonly used interchangeably with “sulfate” and is derived from a German word which means “strong”.

L’s back to A-Z

Laminate—A product where two or more layers of paper or paperboard are combined to achieve greater thickness and rigidity; the product is called “combined board.” If some of the layers are oriented at right angles to the remaining layers with respect to the grain direction or direction of greatest strength, the product is called a “cross laminate”. If all the layers have the same orientation, the product is called “parallel laminate”.

Laminated Board—Paperboard laminated by combining two or more plys of board; the adhesive used may be either a water solution of glue, casein, or starch, or a thermoplastic wax or resin composition. The lining may be of such grades of paper for the general purpose of improving the appearance surface of the board, or for the purpose of imparting some specific property which could not be built into the board itself.

Laminated—In general, the adhering of two or more sheets or plys or boards together to make a single sheet with the desired characteristics.

LB—US Library of Congress

LC—An acronym for the US Library of Congress.

Lightfast (see Fast Color)

Lignin—Natural binding constituent of the cells of wood and plant stalks. This non-carbohydrate portion of most plant cell walls, which serves to bond fibers together and give structural strength to the plant, is a complex three-dimensional polymer of phenylpropane or propylbenzene structure. The chemistry of lignin is characterized by having hydroxyl or methoxyl groups attached to the benzene carbon atoms. Lignin as it occurs in the plant is called “native lignin” or “protolignin” to distinguish it from the modified forms isolated by chemical means-e.g., Klason lignin or alkali lignin. Lignin is the cement that binds plant fibers together. It is chemically unstable, and highly light and heat sensitive. It becomes acidic as it breaks down, and attacks the surrounding cellulose. For this reason unrefined wood pulp is used only to make papers which do not require a long life span-e.g., newsprint. Large quantities of lignin interfere with hydrogen bonding of fibers during papermaking leading to weakness in the paper. Large quantities of lignin in paper contribute to premature discoloration of the sheet.

(a) 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. However, lignin’s presence in paper is believed to contribute to chemical degradation, eventually causing yellowing and weakness, causing paper to become brittle and unusable. Lignin, to a large extent, can be removed during chemical processing. After processing, wood pulp contains an average of 2 to 5% lignin, and linter pulp (cotton) contains an average of ½ of 1% of lignin. Both these amounts are less than the margin of error in current lignin tests, and therefore, no accurate quantitative measurement.

Long chain molecules—pertaining to molecules composed of long chains of atoms, or polymers composed of long chains of monomers.

Low-finish paper—low gloss finish such as antique or machine finish.

M’s back to A-Z

Mat Board—A multi-ply board usually comprised of a core, adhesive, facing and backing paper, commonly four ply, but available in other thickness. 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.

Mat—As used in picture framing, a stiff material, such as cardboard, with an opening cut from the center so that it forms a border between the outer edges of a picture and the inner edge of a frame, commonly referred to as a window mat.

Mat(ting)—A border, usually made from one or more window mats, placed around a print, photograph, etc., to serve as a spacer or separation between the picture and the frame.

Mechanical Wood Pulp—Any wood pulp manufactured wholly or in part by a mechanical process, including stone-ground wood, chemigroundwood and chip mechanical pulp. Uses include newsprint printing papers, specialty papers, tissue, toweling, paperboard and wallboard.

Methyl Cellulose—A synthetic bonding agent (adhesive) derived from cotton or wood cellulose that has been chemically altered. It is soluble in cold water, and has a long shelf life.

Migration ( see Bleed)

Millimeter—millimetre – a unit of length equal to one thousandth of a meter and equivalent to 0.03937 inch. Abbr.: mm

Mold (papermaking)—A mesh screen through which paper slurry is drained. Excess liquid drains away, allowing the pulp to dry enough to be handled.

Mold-Made Paper—A deckle edged paper resembling that made by hand but produced on a machine. It is made on a cylinder or cylindrical mold revolving in a vat of pulp, the various sizes being arrived at by dividing the surface with rubber bands to imitate the thinning of the deckle edge of handmade paper or by cutting the web by means of a jet of water or, in general, paper made on a cylinder mold machine.

Molecular Sieve or Molecular Trap—Any zeolites or similar material, natural or synthetic, having small, precisely uniform pores that can adsorb molecules small enough to pass through the pores.

Monobasic Acid—an acid containing one replaceable hydrogen atom.

Mordant—a substance used in dyeing to fix the coloring matter, esp. a metallic compound, as an oxide or hydroxide, that combines with the organic dye and forms an insoluble colored compound or lake in the fiber.

Mounting Board—A paperboard upon which sheets are mounted. It is most often from 0.030 to 0.050 of an inch in thickness. It has a high smooth finish and is stiff to resist warping.

Multi-Ply—Made up of two or more plys.

Museum Board—This generic term refers to quality matboard, and the properties required for this product are generally the same as for any “permanent” paper

       Note 1.—Both terms, Museum Board and Conservation Board, are often used interchangeably to mean the same thing.

       Note 2—Many use the term Museum Board to designate all cotton and the term Conservation Board to designate archival quality, non-cotton boards (see Permanence, Archival)

N’s back to A-Z

Nanometer—one billionth of a meter a measurement used with the spectrum of light waves also see Angstrom.

Neutral—Of or relating to a solution or compound that is neither acidic nor alkaline. Of or relating to a compound that does not ionize in solution. Of or relating to a particle, an object, or a system that has neither positive nor negative electric charge. Of or relating to a particle, an object, or a system that has a net electric charge of zero.

Neutral Color—Of or indicating a color, such as gray, black, or white, that lacks hue; achromatic. A neutral hue. A color that is neither warm nor cool-i.e. not dominated by red or blue. Medium grays and browns are usually considered to be neutral.

Neutral gray—a. gray; without hue; of zero chroma; achromatic.

Neutral Kraft—A Kraft paper with a pH of 7.0 and produced so as to be relatively acid and sulfur free. It is used in the textile industry where contact with wet materials precludes use of regular Kraft which may give rise to staining and discoloration of textiles.

Neutral pH—A pH factor 6.5 to 7.5. (see Appendix,)

Neutral Size—A form of rosin size which is neither acidic nor alkaline in nature.

Neutral Sulfite Pulp—Pulp produced in a process where the active cooking agent is sodium sulfite, adjusted with sodium carbonate so that it is neither acid nor alkaline. Hardwoods are especially responsive to this form of pulping which results in pulp having relatively high tensile and bursting strength.

Neutralize—To make a solution neutral (neither acidic or basic, pH 7) by adding a base to an acid solution, or an acid to a basic solution.

New Rag—Cotton fabrics and mill cuttings from the textile industry that have never been used.

Nonfibrous—to be free of fibers.

O’s back to A-Z

Off Square—Term applied to sheet materials (paper or glazing) which have been cut or trimmed so that two or more corners deviate from an exact 90º angle.

Offset—In matting, an additional dimension added to the bottom margin of the window mat to balance visual proportioning.

Opaque-Opacity—not transparent or translucent; impenetrable to light; not allowing light to pass through.

Optical Brightener—Chemical additive to a papermaking furnish that improves the apparent brightness of the product by the introduction of fluorescence. Also called Fluorescent Brightening Agent.

Optical Properties—Grouping of paper properties that includes brightness, opacity, color, gloss, and light scattering coefficient.

(a) Optical Tests—Tests carried out on paper and board products to quantify and monitor their optical properties.

Optical Smoothness—Ability of a paper sheet surface to reflect incident light.

Optical Whitening—Process of adding an optical brightening agent to paper stock in order to achieve a specified improvement in apparent brightness. Also called Fluorescent Whitening.

Organic Pigments—Characterized by good brightness and brilliance. They are divided into toners and lakes. Toners, in turn, are divided into insoluble organic toners and lake toners. The insoluble organic toners are usually free from salt-forming groups. Lake toners are practically pure, water-insoluble heavy metal salts of dyes without the fillers or substrates of ordinary lakes. Lakes, which are not as strong as lake toners, are water-insoluble heavy metal salts or other dye complexes precipitated upon or admixed with a base or filler.

Organic—Of, related to, or derived from living organisms.

Outgassing—The release of gases from a material.