When planning to add a nameplate to an artwork, shadowbox or picture frame you should select a material that is appropriate to the need. Often times aesthetics, such as coloring and finish, which subtly complement the piece, are the primary concerns. Other times durability and longevity are bigger factors in decision making. Finally, some decisions just come down to cost or expedience. For a classic appearance, accessible pricing, and longevity it is hard to beat brass nameplates for artwork. Brass offers a golden, classic look that is a natural complement to pieces of art. It’s long lasting, lustrous, golden appearance means that contrasting black oxide markings are easy to read for the life of the artwork. Solid brass is commonly used with artwork, for framing, as well as for industrial nameplate applications.
Artists and Framers will often decide between custom nameplates made from metals, wood, or plastics. The ability to cut woods and plastics into any shape with commonly available laser tools can offer a dimension of flexibility that is more difficult to achieve with metals such as brass. But brass nameplates can outperform plastics when it comes to aesthetic, visual, and tactile qualities; as well as longevity. Sometimes plastics and markings are more susceptible to fading and earlier decomposition.
Another advantage of using metals, such as brass, for nameplates is their ability to be permanently attached using screws or brads. Many times, the adhesives used with plastic materials are of unknown formulation and may expose photographs and artwork to outgassing and acid-release. This means brass nameplates are better suited to under-glass use to protect artwork and photographs from acid release. When we apply adhesives to brass nameplates they are 3M/SCOTCH adhesives that are widely used among professional frame shops. We even offer an Archival-Safe Acid-Free adhesive for art preservation especially in under-glass situations.
Brass is a mixture of copper, zinc, and, in some instances, lead. Different blends lead to different finish coloration. Our Gold Satin Brass is a mixture of copper, zinc, and a trace of lead which produces a classic finish for art title plates. Brass is corrosion resistant and antimicrobial but if exposed to the elements it will acquire a tarnished patina due to oxidation. Our Brass Art Nameplates are coated with a lacquer clear coat which protects the brass surface from oxidation. It can be machined, diamond drag engraved, laser etched, engraved and marked. Where the piece is engraved, we will further establish an oxide layer in order to produce a contrasting mark to improve readability. Nickel silver brass offers a bright silver finish which is also oxidized to improve readability. Our Black brass reveals brass for a wonderful contrast. Since the brass is exposed, we do fill the engraved markings with a lacquer in order to preserve the high contrast.
Laser Marking, Rotary Engraving, Diamond Drag Engraving are three of the most common ways to mark text and designs on solid brass. Rotary Engraving and Diamond Drag Engraving use machine tools to apply direct contact to the nameplate. Material is removed to reveal highly reflective designs and lettering, which are then further exposed to an oxidizing solution to achieve black lettering.
Fiber-laser marking of solid brass nameplates is contactless and can be used to engrave by vaporizing the brass or mark by annealing the brass. All of these methods are available when purchasing brass nameplates from titleplates.com, although the use of fiber lasers is favored for their fine detail and flexibility. If you need something specific engraved onto your plate other than standard text or need more info on our engravers, visit our Engravings page or give us a call.
Whether you are Mounting a Brass Nameplate on a picture frame or a sculpture base, you can use mechanical fixation with brass brads or screws. You will always receive an extra screw or brad just in case one gets misplaced. We also provide the option to use specialty double sided adhesives on the nameplate in situations where brads and screws should be avoided. We offer two standard adhesive tapes that are commonly used in frame shops. These are appropriate for under glass mounting. We also have additional tapes on-hand that can meet other particular needs.
Long term care of brass nameplates is fairly straightforward. Light dusting or the use of a damp cloth should suffice to remove minor coatings. You can also use dishwashing soap and warm water and a clean cloth to remove oil, and dirt. You do not want to damage or harm the protective lacquer coating. DO NOT USE ACETONE to clean your brass nameplate, as it will strip the protective lacquer coating. Do not use abrasives as they will also damage the protective coating and the finish of the nameplate.
Make sure the art nameplate material is solid brass. Some sellers will say their plastics are metallic, foil, or even brass when they are not really a metal at all. Some will say their plastics are UV safe. The base plastic may be UV safe, but it is the marking that must resist fading over time. Many times, laser markings on plastics are not on the base material but a thin-film covering that changes color. Those thin film coverings are usually subject to UV aging and fading. The same issue exists with aluminums that have gold or satin brass finishes. When they are laser marked, the black marking is not the aluminum, but rather the thin film or anodized coating. The good news is if you put the item under glass that is designed to minimize UV there will be protection for the marking on plastic.