alternatives to dry mount press?

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by Daniel Lawton, Nov 26, 2005.

  1. Daniel Lawton

    Daniel Lawton Member

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    Today I decided to give dry mounting a try but the kicker is a dry mount press is out of my budget. I heard about some people using a household iron as a substitute so I decided to give it a try. The results were pretty bad. I set the iron on high heat (no steam) and tacked the corners to the dry-mount adhesive. Then I laid the print + adhesive down on the board and proceeded to press it out. These were 11x14 prints so I found that as I pressed out one side and moved up the print, the side I had just done cooled off and the print started to detach from the adhesive. I then placed weights on the whole thing and found that some areas remained attached while other areas of the print were not properly secured and peeled off right away. Any tips from those of you who dry-mount your prints without a dry-mount press?
     
  2. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    Dry mounting seems to falling from favor these days, due perhaps to the inability to remove the print from the mount if the need arose. Using 'hinging' tape is a much more reversable method, requires no ultra-heavy press, and take only moments. Most mounting shops carry this tape, as well as the online art/photo supply shops. As for dry mounting without the press, I can offer no suggestions, sorry!

    - Randy
     
  3. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    I tried to dry mount using an ordinary flat iron - and the experience almost caused me to get out of photography altogether. I know there are people who claim that it works, but it was a total disaster for me. Fortunately for me, just before I did something totally rash I found someone who wanted so sell a used press.

    Randy notes that dry mounting has "fallen out of favor". Actually, I suspect that there are a couple of factors that are driving that change. The first is that some archivists are discouraging dry mounting because it's not truly reversable. Good point - although not one that is persuasive for me. I am more concerned about how my images look now than I am about whether they can be remounted a hundred years in the future.

    If the print is smaller (say 11x14 or less), and if it has wide borders, hinge mounting behind a matt produces a fairly flat and attractive image. That said, I was in a gallery in Vermont this morning where many of the prints were printed out to the edge of the paper, and then dry mounted, with the edge of the print and a small amount of the mounting board exposed through the cutout in the overmatt. The edges were tight - which means that those prints were dry mounted.

    The other factor is that increasing popularity of non-chemical processes that result in prints that are inherently flatter than traditional wet-process silver prints. Those images tend to have a lot less curl and can be attractively hinge mounted.
     
  4. jvarsoke

    jvarsoke Member

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    Saw a set of prints in a ~$23/plate restaurant here and was suprised to see they weren't drymounted. Of course, the easy way to tell was that the ones nearest the kitchen weren't flat anymore.

    No idea how anyone keeps fiber flat w/o dry-mounting.
     
  5. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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  6. Daniel Lawton

    Daniel Lawton Member

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    That looks like a great demonstration Neal but unfortunately I can't access the video from his website for some reason.
     
  7. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    What are you drawing on to make this assertion? If one mounts to archival mount board, as most do, then I don't understand a need to remove the photograph from the mount. All of the photographers that I know are dry mounting.

    Donald Miller
     
  8. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Evening, Daniel,

    I agree with Donald's comment above.

    As to acquiring a press: keep your eyes open. I was given mine (a Seal 210 M) several years ago when my former school acquired a roll-type laminator and the principal, in his blessed ignorance, decided that the old press no longer had any value. (He was planning to dump it in the trash!) The only price I paid was the work of lugging it to the car by myself and the elbow grease expended in cleaning the platen. Sometimes presses appear on E-Bay, and they can go for rather low prices. Obviously, locating one you can pick up in person is best; otherwise, shipping might be more than the selling price.

    Konical
     
  9. Kirk Keyes

    Kirk Keyes Member

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    Interesting. All of them!

    Alan Ross, Ansel Adams last assistant, uses corner mounts for his smaller prints to hold them to the mount board, and for larger prints, he dry mounts the prints to 2-ply board and then corner mounts that onto the mount board.

    See http://www.alanrossphotography.com/ar20/techForum.html#PrintMounting

    Kirk - www.keyesphoto.com
     
  10. RichSBV

    RichSBV Member

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    Daniel,

    I agree to keep an eye open for a press, but if all else fails...

    I used to dry mount all the time with a household iron and I tried it again last year just for fun. It does work, but requires a technique wich must be learned through practice and observation.

    The three most important issues are:

    A really good, flat, hard surface to work on. Andything that flexes won't work...
    The right temperature on the iron.
    The right pressure and speed.

    As I remember, 'high' would be way too hot and you have a good chance of buring the print. Try medium. Move slow with quite a bit of pressure, and keep the pressure consistent. Keep moving. Don't let the iron sit in one spot. Move from the center area out towards the edges. this help eliminate bubbles. Never move from an edge towards the center. This will cause a bubble and possible crease the print.

    If the print lifts off the mat, there's two probable reasons. Not enough heat/time/pressure. Or too much heat and the adhesive stayed hot too long after you moved the iron away. A surface that flexes will also cause the print to lift because of the curving that make the print and mat different sizes when pressed down.

    The only problems I ever had with the iron technique was getting the very edges flat. It really helps to start with a very flat print.

    All it takes is practice and paying attention to what the print/adhesive does while you're working it. To learn, it also helps to work on a junk print and even not trim the adhesive sheet. With a tiny bit sticking out of the sides of the print, you can judge how well it's melting with your iron passes...

    Good luck with it...
     
  11. Daniel Lawton

    Daniel Lawton Member

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    Thanks for the tips Rich. From your description I can see a couple of things I may be doing wrong. I have been keeping my eye out for a used press and some of the prices are pretty reasonable but, like Konical said, the shipping is a killer for something that weighs like 50-90 lbs. One of these days I'll get lucky and someone local will have one.

    Dan
     
  12. NikoSperi

    NikoSperi Member

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    Oh, my lust for a dry mount press knows little bounds. If you think finding used presses is hard, try over here in Europe! I briefly tried the iron trick, and found I had added yet another method of ruining my prints. In my quest for flat fibre, I read about one guy that bought marble cutting boards - the ones that are about an inch thick. He heats them in the oven, and uses them as a press to dry mount.

    That's the DIY technique I think stands the greatest chance of success, as time consuming as it may be.
     
  13. mjs

    mjs Member

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    RichSBV has good advice on dry mounting with an iron: you probably have plenty of work prints laying around and I encourage you to experiment and 'get the knack' of it. I believe that you'll find the technique isn't difficult to master. Different dry mount tissues take different amounts of heat, so don't assume that one temperature works for everything! Tissues intended to be used with resin material needs lower heat than tissue intended to be used with paper, so be sure to read the package directions, but you'll still need to experiment with your particular iron to learn what heat setting works. I used to use an iron regularly, until I found a dry mount press at an auction. I paid US$40 for a Seal 210 Jumbo, which meets my needs for smaller prints but for larger prints I still use the iron. I occasionally screw up a print but it's always due to my own carelessness and in most cases I'd probably have screwed it up with a press, too. If you let dirt get under the print it doesn't matter how you adhere it, you're going to get a bump!

    I print on fiber paper and have tried many mounting methods, but keep returning to dry mounting. The chemical methods are too expensive, corners and tape don't stay flat enough to suit me even with an overmat. So I dry mount. In the extremely unlikely event that an archivist or curator complains, I figure I'll be so amazed that th elook alone will silence them. If not, there's always a heavy aluminum tripod... :smile:
     
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  15. avandesande

    avandesande Member

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    You are using something between the iron and the print, right? I used hot pressed watercolor paper betweent the iron and print. No trouble doing 8x10 with sw azo.
     
  16. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    If you take the trouble to learn to dry mount, you'll be happy with it.

    There are some problems: for the past 15 years, or so, galleries have used contact paper ( adhesive between 2 sheets ) and called it 'dry mounting'. Of course, it is terrible. They marketed that because it was faster and cheaper, and more profitable if they were able to bad-mouth traditional dry mount techniques, which they did.

    And, as the quality of labor at galleries, frame shops, etc., lowered over the years, they skill lowered, and dry mounting became terrible instead of in the '60s and '70s, when it was good. Nothing new.

    It's nice and easy to use archival corners, or museum mounts for small prints. But when you get up to an 8x10 on double weight paper, dry mounting looks a lot better.

    Use an iron ?

    Use a press. Cheapness has it's limits. Set ebay to local, keep watch, and pick one up you'll use all your life. Be proud of what you do.

    .
     
  17. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    In the conservation world, "not reversible" is by definition "not archival." Arguments that the board protects the print or that the tissue is a barrier are irrelevant. If you drymount, the board is part of the work, and if the board deteriorates, then the work deteriorates. On the other hand, most conservators and gallerists respect the idea that presentation of the work is up to the artist, so they deal with objects as they come into collections.

    In New York galleries, one sees less and less drymounting of new work. The work isn't perfectly flat, but it's pretty flat, and tastes are adjusting to accommodate that fact.

    One interesting possibility is starch mounting, which is regarded as more reversible than drymounting (just soak in distilled water to release the print), and with the right materials is accepted by conservators as archival. The process is described in Reilly's book at http://albumen.stanford.net. Albumen prints are much more prone to curl than gelatin prints, so they've always been flat mounted, and historically were starch mounted, and are just as flat as drymounted prints.
     
  18. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I don't sell pictures so I don't know what the market demands. If I were in the business, I would do whatever is customer-preferred.

    I still have some photos I dry mounted back around 1975 (with a borrowed press) that I now wish were unmounted. The boards look like crap after all these years of storage, display and moving around. Of course a mat covers the mount board but it doesn't change how dog-eared and scuffed the mounts look.

    Conversely, I have seven fiber 8x10's hanging on the walls of my office that were hinged to the mat board with mounting tape. They've been there over a year and they are still flat. I have several 11x14's at home done the same way that remain flat. For my personal use, I wouldn't even consider mounting any photos.
     
  19. roteague

    roteague Member

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    My experience as well Lee.
     
  20. User Removed

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    The main arguement against drymounting prints is that if the mount were to become damaged, like a few have made examples of above, the print is ruined.

    However, Photographers, gallery and museums should handle the mounted print with the same care as they would a loose print!!! They would never let the corners of a 16x20 print get foxed and banged up, or spots and marks on the print...so why would you not handle a 16x20 mount with the same care?

    Second arguement, people tend to say that drymounting is less archival. Wrong. Go view the tests done at www.superiorarchivalmaterial.com and you can clearly compair the aging of a loose print to a dry mounted print. You will see the mounted print yellowed and faded LESS then the corner mounted print.

    As for a drymount press...just keep your eye on Ebay. I picked up a 18x22 Seal press for under 100 bucks, and shipping was only 50 bucks anywhere in the country. However, it was located only a few hours from me and I just picked it up for free!!!

    I contact print on single weight paper, which not only curls like crazy...but I cannot print a large border on the sides because I only contact print. Corner mounting is not an option for me. I prefer the look of a drymounted print and regardless of print size, I will always drymount.

    Ryan McIntosh
     
  21. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    I am studying to be an archivist, and as noted above, many people in archive related fields feel that non-reversable mounting is not a good idea. It all depends on which side of the fence you stand. From the photographer side, I can see the benefts of flat images and using various ways to mount to ensure longevity, but the current idea being taught is that dry mounting is bad. I tend to keep an open mind, but the impression I am getting from archivists is that it is falling from favor, at least to archivists. As for photographers, it would appear to still be popular.

    - Randy
     
  22. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    Here is a link as an example of my statements. Search for the words 'dry mount' about 2/3 or so of the way down the page.

    http://www.loc.gov/preserv/care/mat.html

    I did not mean to set light to the fuse here, I just stated what I believed to be accurate information regarding dry mounting.

    - Randy
     
  23. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

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    There is also the concern of total volume. I've gone to loose mounts, 2-ply, and smaller prints because storing big, mounted prints is driving me from my house. I know that some museums are concerned about this as well.

    Also, I don;t really like the signature on the mount and not on the print. If the board fails and you separate the print, you separate the signature. I have some Oliver Gagliani prints that are mounted with corners and overmats. The prints are signed on the oversized margins, as well as the overmat.

    Oversized margins help protect the print, too. It is the sharp corner of mounted or un-mounted prints that often get damaged first. Also, chemical residue is more likely at the edges than the center. It penetrates the cut edge more readily.

    But, to make life more confusing, I do like dry-mounted prints. I especially like prints dry-mounted in a de-bossed well. I'm saving for an etching press.
     
  24. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    After sending out some really really bad and badly mounted prints in a print exchange (my only excuse was inexperience), I decided I needed to learn how to mount without a press. I use a teflon coated iron (sold under the Sunbeam name) and I use it ONLY for mounting prints, nothing else. I set it at a medium heat without steam. I tack the centre of the dry mount tissue to the print. Then I turn it over and place the print onto the backboard. I press the iron down onto the centre of the print, leave it there for about 5 seconds, then LIFT it and place it into another spot just 1/2 way to one side of where I've already pressed. Overlapping a bit tends to eliminate air bubbles. If you slide the iron on the print you get scratches, so lifting it and placing it back down is essential. Too hot just tends to curl the print badly and a bit less heat combined with a little more time in each place pressed seems to work well.

    cheers
     
  25. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Having drymounted with Seal tissue for years, I was really irritated that it is no longer being manufactured. So I've switched to a tissue that is supposed to be 1. applicable to both RC and FB paper. 2. Low temperature, i.e. 160 to 180 degrees F. and 3. Reversible by reheating to 200 degrees F. I've yet to try to reverse the process, but it does seem to work at the higher end of the temperature range with fiber based paper. If so, it would seem to be an ideal way to preserve flatness on the mount board while maintaining reversibility should the mount be damaged. (I've seen a lot of work that's quite "elderly" mounted on board that's cleary not aging well but that also preserves the photographer's notes, Lewis Hine in this instance, and is an inseperable part of the artwork. I am not impressed with the conservator's push to change the onus for making their work easier to the photographer and not to their own craft.)

    As to getting a press...I bought mine on ebay at a very fair and reasonable price. It's a Bogen Model 560 and it's a tank. It also weighs enough to have kept Jimmy Hoffa asleep with the fishes for all these years had that been his fate. It's worth it if you can find one you can afford.
     
  26. edz

    edz Member

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    Dry mounting can be done in a somewhat reversible manner. The mounting boards and tissues are archival and, in fact, afford some protection to the print.

    Why? Seems more like a belief system with a large heaping of arrogance. Dry mounting does not destroy a print but in many ways can be an integral part of the printing process. A dry mounted print IS for many of us the art work.

    Yes among many achivists and dealers--- THIS week--- dry mounted prints are out. So? Its fashion like all the archival tatoos I see on same.