As a framing company, we’ve handled quite a few historic and delicate pieces of art. Animation art cels are just that. “Cel” is short for celluloid acetate, the transparent material upon which animated films are created. With their extraordinary value and their handcrafted art, it’s important to understand how to frame animation cels, as they are extremely sensitive and can be easily damaged.
Animation cels are particularly vulnerable to drastic temperature and humidity changes. The cel can crack or peel from these extreme changes or even from pollution and ultraviolet lighting. As a result, it’s recommended that animation cels be reframed, remounted, and have their glass and matting changed every few years. Most importantly, it’s essential that you choose an archival-quality frame to protect this valuable art. The following tips will help you get an idea for the correct way to frame, select glass for, and mount the animation cel.
Framing Your Animation Cel
A proper frame for an animation art cel will allow the cel to expand and contract as the temperature and humidity fluctuate. For this reason, it’s important that you don’t 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.
Choosing the Right Glass
It’s important for animation cels to be safe and free from danger of certain environmental risks. When deciding on glass, make sure it’s 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’s always best to keep the animation cel in a low-lit environment even with ultraviolet light-protected glass.
Where to Hang Your Art
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 opened and closed 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. Imagine if the glass ever broke over something as irreplaceable as an animation cel? To ensure that your framed cel stays in place on your wall, make sure you invest in the Level-Lock® Hanging System.
Lucie Voves is the Founder and CEO of Church Hill Classics/diplomaframe.com, a certified woman-owned business.