Is there a simple, unthreatening way to mount prints?

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by David Lyga, Apr 15, 2011.

  1. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    Most will readily agree that formal dry mounting represents the very best in presentation methods. I concur. But there has to be a way to mount that is simple,quick and inexpensive.

    Often I am tempted to buy double-stick adhesive and simply let it go at that. One would simply lay a few strategically placed pieces on the mounting board and carefully lay the print on such. But I am reminded that the archival aspects are not good with that method. I ask, is there a double stick adhesive that will allow this without worry? I am not looking for 500 year perfection but, instead, maybe a good 50 years.

    I know of 3M spray adhesive and starch paste. But the double stick tape sounds easiest and cheapest to me. Am I searching for a solution that had best be unfound? I appreciate comments. - David Lyga
     
  2. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Subscriber

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    Double stick tape and spray adhesive are both EXTREMELY bad for prints. They'll cause the prints to deteriorate far earlier than 50 yrs. For archival mounting your easiest choice is LineCo plastic mounting corners. They're made of archival plastic and no adhesive of any kind touches the print (The sticky part, which is also archival, sticks only to the backing board). They're fairly cheap, easy to use, and the print slides out of them easily if you need to un-mount.
     
  3. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    Thank you for the information about the archival corners, Christopher, but I am really amazed to hear (by imputation!) that in this day and age there is no adhesive known to mankind that is truly archival. There HAS to be. That is why I placed this question on the forum. Perhaps there is someone who can answer this seemingly simply question more fully than I can. - David Lyga.
     
  4. semeuse

    semeuse Member

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    Lineco has an archival self-adhesive tape - it's available at Freestyle
     
  5. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    One advantage of not gluing the print down to a mount is that if necessary the mount is easily changed. And, it will be necessary at some point in time.
    If you use mounting corners properly so that the print can move a little, then put a window mat on top it's hard to tell that it isn't dry mounted, especially once it's behind glass in a frame.
     
  6. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Subscriber

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    There are archival adhesives and archival tapes, but current practice in museums and other archives is to avoid all adhesives because if you need to ever remount a print (as happens if the mount board is damaged by dropping it or water from a roof leak, etc) then adhesives become a problem. Some are reversible, but none are totally removable...the paper is always affected by any chemical touching it.
     
  7. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    Archivists hate dry mounting. I know a museum archivist who literally shudders at the thought of dry mounting.
    Sandwiching between two pieces of archival matte board or mounting on photo corners are the two best methods I can think of which wouldn't cause Anita, the archivist, to have a fit.

    It's not for presentation but she would probably recommend storing photos flat in an archival box with pieces of glassine or archival polyester between.

    If you absolutely had to mount a photo to a matte board I would guess that archival wheat starch paste would be the thing to use because, if you had to, you could use steam to remove it from the backing. However, the problem I think you'll find is that, in any kind of fixed mounting, the photo emulsion, the base paper and the backing board will all absorb and release moisture at different rates which will cause the photo to try and crinkle and curl. Since the photo can't move when it's fixed to its backing board, it will eventually self-destruct.

    I have photos that I made in photography class 20+ years ago that were carefully dry mounted on matte board. When they were first made, they looked nice but, now that they have aged, the surface is slightly wavy. To make a photo to keep for a long time, whether it be 50 years or 500, I wouldn't dry mount.

    I vote with Chris. Use photo corners and sandwich between two pieces of matte board, the front piece, of course, has a window cut out.
    It's easy to do. It doesn't require any special equipment and, done carefully, the photos will last longer than you will.
     
  8. BetterSense

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    I'm tempted to report this as a troll. Do you have any evidence whatsoever for that statement? Any data or experience? Or did you just say it because you felt like it?

    I'm really tired of people saying that if you don't make prints the way they read about in the Word According to Ansel or something, that your prints will spontaneously crumble in a dramatic burst of accelerated aging at some point in the future (when they don't have any evidence to support that claim).

    I, like the OP, an actually interested in REAL information about wet-mounting and adhesive-mounting solutions, and am interested in REAL data and information so that I can make choices about materials. It doesn't help when people just parrot the standard tribal wisdom and wives tales of what is or is not "OMG ARCHAIVAL!!!!!"
     
  9. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    I use some filmoplast p90 tape across the top of the print and attach it to the backing board, hinge style.

    http://www.archivalmethods.com/Product.cfm?categoryid=42&Productid=147

    I've tried the 3m and other sprays and the real problem is overspray, and to a lesser extent odor. You really need ventilation to use them, and usually ventilation means open windows and dust or bugs coming in. They are great for non-perfectionist mounting for me, like for mounting images for trade shows, planning board presentations for work, etc... Just don't spray it on anywheres near my glass and picture framing stuff.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 15, 2011
  10. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Subscriber

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    Look for a copy of the book "Conservation of Photographs". It is by the people at Kodak and the George Eastman House collection. It covers this topic well.
     
  11. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    It's also over 25 years old.

    I personally think that photographs should be attached completely to a backing board, like they are in drymounting. Museum curators can bite their nails all they want; that's their job not mine. However, drymounting becomes difficult for large prints. In particular I will need to mount some 20x24 and larger RC (gasp) silver prints in the near future. It would be nice to know what wet-mounting options there are available in 2011, and how well they work and how they can be expected to last. I know in The Print Ansel goes over wet-mounting FB prints using, if I remember correctly, regular white glue. I doubt that would work for RC prints so I'm looking at either 3M spray or some other sticky product.
     
  12. Mainecoonmaniac

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  13. Greg Davis

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    There are plenty of "acid free" boards with pressure sensitive adhesive already on them. I used them on RC prints in the past. It is best if you can use a roller station or vacuum press to create a lot of pressure. Even though it was "acid free" it shortened the life of the RC paper to only a few years. I kept samples to see the long term effects while I was working at that studio. Degradation began to show after 4 years. I have used sprays, but they simply do not adhere well at all. Seal makes a film called Optimount for adhering prints to Plexiglas that is supposed to work well, but again, you need a good amount of pressure to get good adhesion.
     
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  15. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    What kind of degredation did you notice? Was it yellowing, or cracking of the resin?
     
  16. ROL

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    You don't have to dry mount, or even attach a print permanently to any mount if you don't want to. You can do anything you want to with your prints. Anectdotal opinions about the inadequate longevity of dry mounting may in fact suggest more about the working methods of the specific worker. A visit to any showing of AA's prints will reveal dry mounted prints coming up to 80 or so years (I have perfectly fine, dry mounted, personal prints, over 35 years old – I guess I must have messed up somehow :wink:). Worrying about what some curator may do with your prints is about as absurd as planning what you will buy with the millions you will win from your lottery ticket. Glue 'em down if ya want!

    You can, however, achieve a nicely presented print, without permanent adhesion, by using mounting corners (easiest, as previously suggested), or hanging with linen tape, and overmatting (i.e., cutting a beveled window to cover both the mounting corners and sufficient print margins). Just make certain you can print with sufficiently crisp margins with a good easel, planned large enough to accommodate the corners or tape, and signing if you wish. BTW, overmatting into the print area itself, while perhaps enabling visible cropping, may inevitably result in a sharply cut bevel edge digging into and injuring the printed emulsion. The only difficulty will be getting fiber prints (especially larger; RC not so much) as flat and smooth as possible – for which a mounting press will be invaluable – but then it seems the use of an expensive press is often at the root of many beginner's objections to dry mounting. Do I need to make a video on this too?!?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 15, 2011
  17. BetterSense

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    Is there a problem with drymounting RC prints? Does anyone have any old or vintage dry-mounted RC prints?
     
  18. Greg Davis

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    The prints display yellowing. I processed them beyond archival standards, including selenium toning. The only variable was the mounting board. I have dry mounted RC prints without a problem. Just make sure you follow the temperature guidelines with the tissue.
     
  19. fdi

    fdi Advertiser

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    I am the owner of Frame Destination, Inc. and we have lots of picture mounting information on our website here: photo mounting techniques

    If I have white border space around the image I will often just use photo or mounting corners. If I do not I will use a modified version of the t-hinge but I will apply the hinging tape to the back of the mat and instead of the mounting or backing board so that I do not have to worry about making the t.

    A museum will be more likely to use something like a water activated wheat starch based adhesive and Japanese hinging tissue. That is done so that the print can be completely removed from the frame and restored to its original condition. Very weak hinging tissue is used so that if the print gets stressed the tissue will tear before the print does. This is critical for some rare artwork, but not for my prints so I just use an acid free hinging tape that may not be 100% reversible, but is not introducing harmful chemicals into the frame package.

    Cheers,
    Mark
     
  20. fdi

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  21. David Lyga

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    Better Sense and Christopher Crawford (who is NOT a troll):

    I did not wish to post this but what Better Sense said gave me new credibility for mankind. I, too, am sick and tired of the 'authorities' stating just what can and cannot be done. For example, take stick glue (non toxic): I honestly believe that a light coating on the back of a print will not amount to any damage long term. Likewise, today's double stick adhesives are very clean. Take standard copy paper, cheap as hell: when was the last time you saw a yellowed piece of old copy paper. I'm 61 and when I was a kid Scotch tape yellowed the paper it was pasted on within a few months. Today, it stays clear.

    In summation, my prints are not Ansel Adams material. Even if I went the strictly archival route there would be atmospheric pollutants to worry about and every archivist knows that. Still, the dire warnings persist. I am not knocking people like Christopher Crawford nor am I fully embracing the comforting and refreshing, but maybe cautiously adhered to, mentality of Better Sense, but we collectively do seem to lose a bit of a distilled perception of good old common sense when we repeat, ad infinitum, just what MUST be worshiped upon the altar of authority.

    The biggest joke and lie out there is that developers inevitably go bad with time. I have reiterated many times that stored in clear plastic soda or juice bottles, filled to the very brim, even highly dilute developers will last indefinitely and I can prove this. Still the disquieting realization that the 'Word' might be challenged cause most of us to gather around the wagons to get ready to defend whatever.

    In the 70s when I was living in New York (THE center of photography then) snobbery was rife with 'essential' darkroom apparatus. One simply 'never thought' to go to a housewares section of a discount store or dollar store for a developing tray nor did one think (heaven forbid) of going to a hardware store to get the requisite thermometer. Thus, photo stores sold the same stuff, in many instances, for a lot more.

    Regardless of the viewpoints expressed here, we all have value. True, authoritative statements DO have much time-won credibility. But time does pass and industry does hear all, especially about the purchasers wanting products to be getting cleaner and cleaner. We need to attenuate the WORD with a 'dynamic common sense' that lives in a world of changing conditions. - David Lyga
     
  22. hpulley

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    That`s the problem with archivists, they don`t believe photos should be viewed at all. Every photon hitting the image and every molecule of air wafting by is ruining it, even if it is in a small, imperceptible way.

    I should try some photo corners.

    That said I like dry mounting as it really looks and feels finished to me. A photo rattling around in some corners between a couple of pieces of matboard doesn`t seem as finished but if it is better then perhaps that`s alright.

    For me the dry mounting also helps to make the picture truly flat but if as you say it will eventually wrinkle itself on the mounting board then I wonder, what if you do the more modern thing of mounting it on foamcore instead of matboard?
     
  23. chriscrawfordphoto

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    Once someone has decided that they have nothing to learn from those who have knowledge, they cannot be helped or taught. Do it how you want guys. The OP asked a question, I answered it with the correct answer. The photo corners I recommended are archival, cheap, easy to use, fully reversible, and acceptable to museums and galleries if he is fortunate enough to get shown by any.

    As for dry mounting, 80 yrs as some mentioned for Adams work, is not really long. There really are good reasons NOT to use permanent adhesives.
     
  24. Greg Davis

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    There are many ways to attach prints to boards. Several of those methods will look great for years. But "years" is not the same as archival. Archival refers to centuries. That is why you should investigate and use methods that are tested under advanced aging conditions by people like those at the Wilhem Institute and George Eastman House. These are people that have PhD's in document preservation/conservation. They test new materials constantly, yet they still recommend the same methods. Are there new materials that pass? Yes, some new silicone based adhesives, but they are very expensive for the home framer.

    If you are not concerned about true longevity, then mount however you want. I have before for temporary installations, but for archival mounting I drymount or use photo corners, I process and wash my prints to ANSI standards for archival longevity, and I only use 100% rag boards.
     
  25. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    Do you mail prints mounted on corners then, or just naked prints or in an archival translucent sleeve? There isn't much point in mailing a new mounting board for the back though I suppose if you had a window in mind you could mail that...
     
  26. 2F/2F

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    I think the best way to avoid drymounting is to print with a border, use tape to hold the print to a backing board, and cut an overmat. Cutting the overmat takes some time, so I don't know if that qualifies. Also, prints won't be absolutely flat as with dry mounting.

    I belong to the dry mounting camp, personally. I see no reason not to do it, unless you are going to sell the prints to someone who wants them loose. If you want to change the mat in the future, just cut an overmat that crops out the mount board entirely. The only thing you lose is the "gutter," and only if there was one in the first place.

    But for most of us to worry so much about the archival qualities of our prints is just silly, and sometimes bordering on arrogant, as long-term archival permanence is largely a concern with work of great monetary value and/or historical importance. I have crates of photos 80+ years old that have survived in cardboard boxes in garages, attics, dresser drawers, cheap sticky-paged photo albums with plastic overlays, etc. in the Southern CA heat, and they look great. After seeing this, and working at a museum exhibit preparation business editing and restoring historic photos, I am certainly not worried about anything I keep on a board in a frame or in a box indoors with relatively constant temperature and humidity. That is luxury living for a print compared to most. I have also seen lord knows how many "classic" and "vintage" dry mounted prints in apparently-perfect condition in museums and galleries. I would say that poor care and storage is going to be the end of a print, not whether or not it was dry mounted. My two cents...dry mount away.