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.
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.
If you tone it down alot, it almost becomes bearable.
- Walker Evans on using color
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...
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.
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.
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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.
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.
My experience as well Lee.
Originally Posted by Lee Shively
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.
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.
Originally Posted by Donald Miller