Image with wide border - dry mount or just put a mat over it?
I just made a print on a 11x14 paper. The image itself is centered and about 7x10.
My usual method of presentation is to cut paper flush with the image itself and dry mount it on a museum board, then put an over mat with gap anywhere from 1/2" to 3/4".
With this wide border all around the image, I have an option of not dry mounting but simply over matting with gap between the image and the mat window. I've seen this done before.
How are these two method considered in market place? Not that I'm going to sell this image but I'm curious. Is one better method or more correct method than the other?
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
I know that museums do not like dry mount photographs and therefore assume that collectors and art dealers don't either.
A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I always dry mount and float the work inside a larger matt, same as your usual method. It's an exquisite presentation. I also sometimes steam my paper surfaces, so a perfectly flat mount really shows that off.
As far as museums and collectors are concerned, thankfully I'm not St. Ansel. Or even Uncle Bill. But I have heard that MAS dry mounts all of his work, and he's a little better known than any of us...
"They are the proof that something was there and no longer is. Like a stain. And the stillness of them is boggling. You can turn away but when you come back they’ll still be there looking at you."
— Diane Arbus, March 15, 1971, in response to a request for a brief statement about photographs
I work in custom framing - dry mounting, while it has the obvious benefit of keeping the primary medium absolutely(ish) flat, is not ideal for ultimate preservation. I know dry mounting tissues usually state that they are archival/acid free, but a small part of me would personally doubt that. Additionally, unless the under/float mat is something other than white there is really no advantage over using the photograph's own white margin. We usually only dry mount when the customer specifically requests it or the photograph/whatever is impossible to keep flat. Also, damage is possible while dry mounting...unlikely, but possible.
It also presents a problem to potential buyers, who may like the image but would present it in another way. Sure, they could just trim off the excess mat, but most won't. They also then must crop since there is no longer any base medium to secure down. Most of the art dealers with whom I have dealt have simply suggested simple window matting as the presentation. If someone really likes your work, they will spend (maybe ) the money to get it framed.
I don't have anything against dry mounting, as it affords some unique ways to present work. I've used it quite a few times, usually for books (but those were palladium prints with just a small strip of adhesive to just tack the top edge into the book, no need to worry about curling with that process).
I recommend these for mounting work behind window mats - no adhesive touches the work and it's absolutely reversible. Some double-sided tape to seal the mat to the backing board on which the art is mounted and you are set.
There's my long-winded, caffeine-induced two-cents . Ultimately, do what's best for your work and style.
Last edited by blind_sparks; 11-27-2012 at 12:41 AM. Click to view previous post history.
If you are not selling the print the only "correct" way is what works for you. If you are selling the print, the only official "correct" way is what works for your customer.
Since your paper size is 11x14 you have the option of no mounting at all. Just drop the print into an 11x14 picture frame behind the mat and you are done. You can quickly change the image out later and since you have done nothing to the image, all of you options are still open for a different future presentation style.
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For many years I did as the OP does. Some older prints show discoloration of white mats around the edge of the print. This is also true of a Cole Weston print from about 34 years ago. Now I print with a white (or occasionally toned) border that extends beyond the overmat window. Smaller prints in 12x16 frames are trimmed to that size and are self-centered in the frame. Larger prints are hinged to a backing board.
I'm not getting rid of my dry mounting press I agree with blind_sparks and stopped dry mounting my prints a couple of years ago. If dry mounting is requested then I will accommodate. Living in Florida even with constant air conditioning and always having mounted on acid-free board with Seal archival tissue I have found some boards to have developed "climate" spots while the photographs remained pristine. I've gone to leaving a border, signing with pencil on back of the print, archival corners and having the cover mat window flush with the image. While it doesn't show a signature it does make for a clean attractive presentation with no distraction from the print. Another advantage is that print storage takes less room especially after many years the closets get full.
If ANYTHING at all happens to the materials the print is dry mounted to, you are basically screwed, so I will never dry mount.
Like tkamiya, I print with a one inch border (or more) on all paper sizes, and use photo corners on a piece of rag as backing board, and overmat with rag also. Since I use matte paper I leave a half inch of white paper around the top three edges of the printed image area, and 3/4" on the bottom. To me it looks great this way, and if anything ever happens to the backing board, I just buy a new one and move the print over. Easy peasy.
"Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank
"Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh
If you have a perfectly square easel (and assuming the paper base matches the matboard pretty well) then it wouldn't be a problem to leave a channel with a little white boarder showing around the edge of the image. When mounting my platinum prints I make archival paper corners that I tape to the underboard with linen or tyvek tape because the self adhesive plastic ones are generally too small and flimsy. If you print right up to the edge then you will need to use something like the clear view photo corners. I would only suggest going with a slightly smaller channel—1/4-inch on the top and sides, and 3/8-inch at the bottom, especially if it is an 8x10-16x20" print. I have seen a lot of prints mounted with larger channels and the proportion to the print always feels a little off.
That is one of the main reasons conservators frown on drymounting. The other reason is that fewer options are available for conservators to stabilize an affected print when when it has been drymounted. I just saw a Weston shell that had moderate silvering on the edges and was drymounted and shown with the full original 1927 underboard. Now that most people are aware of proper fixing and washing standards and with the availability of extremely high quality matboard the chemical stability of the print is less of a worry than straight physical damage.
Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson
One of the main reasons for drymounting, and why Michael Smith and Paula Chamlee do so, is because single weight papers like Azo are impossible to keep flat and will crimp if you so much as look at it wrong. Drymounting to a larger underboard is the best way to keep the print surface and edges safe when handling and displaying. The other reason is that even if the black edges were not trimmed from the contact prints the window would need to overlap too much of the image too keep it completely under the opening.
". . . photographing as a two-way act of respect. Respect for the medium and letting it do what it does best- describe. And respect for the subject in describing it as it is. A photograph must be responsible to both."-- Garry Winogrand
"Art is just a Series of Natural Gestures
."-- John Marin
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Either way certainly works. Michael Smith has a page on his website that compares the stability of dry mounted vs not dry mounted. He claims that dry mounting is better. Not sure if he is right, but let's call it even The argument about a damaged mount is certainly true and museum preferences, but to me it is an aesthetic choice and I prefer to dry mount regular gelatin prints. For my few alternative process prints, I've used corners since they are very flat to begin with.