As a framing company, we have had to handle quite a few historic and delicate pieces of art. Animation art cels are just that. A cel stands for celluloid acetate, the transparent material upon which animated films are created. With their extraordinary value and their hand crafted art, animation cels are extremely sensitive and can be easily damaged when being framed.
Animation cels are particularly vulnerable to drastic temperature and humidity changes. The cel can crack or peel from these drastic changes or even from pollution and ultraviolet lighting. Because of this, it is recommended that animation cels be reframed, remounted, and have their glass and matting changed every few years. The following tips will help you get an idea on the correct and safest ways to frame, change the glass and mount the animation cel.
Frame: A proper frame for an animation art cel will allow the cel to expand and contract as the temperature and humidity fluctuates. For this reason, it is important NOT to secure all four sides of the cel. To preserve the cel in its most original context, use edge and corner supports. Pressure-sensitive tapes are not necessary for animation cels because the tape hardens with time and fails to stick to the surface of the cel causing damage to the animation. The following frame and mat consist of Carved Wood Frame, 100% Acid Free Cotton Matting, UV protected Glass, High Quality Acid Free Backing and is 100% Archival.
Glass: It is important for animation cels to be safe and free from danger of certain environmental risks. When deciding on a glass, make sure it is ultraviolet light protected; meaning the glass blocks any UV lighting that can permanently damage and discolor the animation cel. This is also recommended to help keep the brilliant colors within the animation safe as well. It is always best to keep the animation cel in a low-lit environment even with ultraviolet light protected glass.
Mounting: When hanging any piece of art, especially an animation cel, consider certain areas that are in continuous movement. For example, an area with a door that is constantly being closed or shut produces shock and extreme vulnerability to the animation cel. Consider a low-lit area with minimal vibration. Also, sturdy mounting brackets or hangers are a must. If glass was ever to break over the irreplaceable animation cel, this could permanently damage the art beyond reparability. (should we add in something about Level-Lock here?)
Visit the following sites for more information and resources for framing your animation cel:
Animation Cel Handling Requirements
The Cartoon Factory
Glimpses- Matting and Framing Animation Cels