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Dust from static on plexiglass while photo framing

Paul Minkus , Jan 13, 2000; 10:20 a.m.

I frame my own photos. I have used glass exclusively. But for many reasons I consider acrylic plexiglass may be a better alternative. The few times I have tried plexiglass, I find that dust clings tenaciously to the plexiglass when the protective plastic is peeled away. How do you avoid this? Also, do you prefer glass or plexiglass. If you use plexiglass, do you get it at the hardware store or is there special framing grade plexiglass. What are the advantages of using plexiglass vs glass? Thank you for your responses.


Michael Moon , Jan 13, 2000; 01:29 p.m.

I use plexi too. If you just peel off the protective wrap and throw the plexi in the frame it does indeed attract every species of dust, dog hair, dandruff, dirt, you name it. It must be cleaned first to discharge the static electricity. Windex is fine for this, but be sure to use a non-abrasive towel, because, as you have probably discovered already, plexi's big disadvantage is that it scratches very easily. I get mine from American Frame; buying frames, mats, foamcore & plexi all in one package is very convenient.

Peter Foiles , Jan 13, 2000; 01:42 p.m.

American Frame specificaly recommends against using glass cleaners like "Windex" for cleaning their Plexiglass. They do sell an anti-static cleaning "wand". The main advantages of plexi are lower weight and it doesn't break. Biggest disadvantage is that it scratches so easily. I would not buy plexiglass from a hardware store but from a frame shop or art supply store. www.americanframe.com is a good source.

Charles Bush , Jan 13, 2000; 01:54 p.m.

Get a Zerostat gun made by Milty. It's a small plastic gun like device that is used to reduce static in clean rooms and recently by audiophiles to eliminate static from LP's. You simple point at the plastic and pull the trigger several times. Its' ability to remove a static charge is incredable.

Tom Johnston , Jan 13, 2000; 03:09 p.m.

Personally, I prefer glass, but plexiglass has a lot in it's favor too. I just like the look of glass better and static is discharged when I clean it as mentioned above (with ordinary glass cleaner).

Kristin Brown , Jan 13, 2000; 03:30 p.m.

I've always used conservation glass if framing something important. The glass is heavier, but it protects the image and doesn't scratch the way plexi will. I've found that a sheet large enough to frame a matted American 1-sheet movie poster might run $125 at a hobby or craft store; I called around until I found a glass dealer who would sell it for $30 or a so. You can really save a bundle if you frame stuff yourself!


Dan Smith , Jan 13, 2000; 04:35 p.m.

Plexi can work well for custom framing & there are UV protective types around as well as ones to meet all the requirements of the finest museums. If you do get the small scratches, jewelers rouge and a light touch will polish them out & save you a lot of headaches over replacement. Just as with glass, there are differing grades with differing amounts of protection and viewing ease. I do custom photographic framing & it is interesting to see how so many will go with the cheapest product possible to protect a priceless image. If you want to protect your image and show it at its best, don't skimp on the glazing or you will degrade the view of what you are trying to show off.

Paul Swenson , Jan 13, 2000; 11:14 p.m.

Plexiglass is a great alternative to glazing with glass. Much lighter in weight, more or less unbreakable and depending upon the type of plexi used, amazing UV filtering properties which can go a long way towards preserving a photograph. Also it doesn't get cold like glass and therefore does not attract damaging moisture the way glass can. Drawbacks: more expensive, scratches more easily, static charge can make framing a bit more challenging, appearance is excellent though it can have an ever so slightly wavy surface as compared to glass. This diference wouldn't be noticed by the average viewer unless they were really looking for it.

Cost: never buy plexi from a picture framer, that's the most expensive source. Some choices might be the local glass supplier, some towns have a plastics supplier, even hardware store plexiglass is okay, however it usually is only available in precut sizes and sometimes the wrapping is a thin celophane like plastic rather than the more protective paper, so it is more liable to have some scratches and be a little dusty where the plastic is peeling up. The high UV filtering plexi is very expensive, but it does what it's designed to do very well.

Scratches: If the plexi gets scratched there is a great product on the market for removing fine scratches which can be found at your local auto supply. It's called Maguire's Mirror Glaze Plastic Cleaner. Not to be confused with the same brand Plastic Polish. In my opinion the Cleaner is actually a polish because it has a fine abrasive in it that removes scratches, and the polish is actually a cleaner in that it is more of a solvent , kinda like windex for plexi.

Dust is a problem in any framing endeavor and your work area should be clean and dust free as possible to start with. Don't peel off the paper on the artwork side until you are actually ready to place it against the art. If some dust should jump on, an Ilford anti-static cloth is a good tool to wipe the dust free and help reduce the static charge.

There is really no solid reason to not use plexi, unless you just don't want to pay the xtra. Glass, though the standard has it's own drawbacks. Number one it breaks, and if it does it usually damages the artwork that it was covering. It's difficult to ship(framed work) and requires more careful packing, it's more expensive to ship because it's heavier. It makes large pieces more of a risk in framing because of the weight. And it's susceptibility to colder temperatures make it more of an attractant to moisture (mold).

I frame things in glass if the piece isn't too important and I'm on a budget. If I'm going to be displaying the work, especially in a public place or shipping it, moving it, or if consevation is a concern, I go plexi.

Dave Mueller , Jan 14, 2000; 07:49 a.m.

I purchased some plexiglas cleaner in a small spray bottle from American Framing. One of its properties is that it reduces static and the dust doesn't cling to the plexiglas. It seems to work well, I have a print in my cube here at the office and there is no dust on the glazing.

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