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  1. #1
    Alex Hawley's Avatar
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    Mounting a Large Triptych

    I've invested several hours this weekend drymounting three 11x14 prints into a three-print panorama. I'm mounting all three prints on one mat board which measures 40x20 inches. Getting all the prints cut square accurately match-trimmed and mounted straightly is quite the challenge. Its fairly easy to do with 8x10 prints and smaller but as print size goes up, the "challenging" level goes up exponentially I have found.

    Right now my method is summarized as dry mounting three 11x14 prints on a single 40x20 inch mat board, then overmatting with another single-window piece, all with 4-ply mat board.

    Looking for a possible better way, including framing ideas.
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  2. #2
    Richard Boutwell's Avatar
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    Alex, are the prints touching each other and does that mat overlap the prints at all? or is there a channel around all the prints?

    I have mounted two 16x22's on a 52-inch board and two 8x10 on a 13x25 board, but there was about a 3/8 space between the prints. You are right, getting the prints cut square, and square to each other was the challenge. Both times I visually placed each print just like i do with single 8x10's

    Paula Chamee has a series of 9 6x7cm contact prints on one board. We have mounted two or three of those, and I recall she made a jig to keep the bottom edges straight. The first one was done before the overmat was cut and was much harder to do, and isn't exactly perfect. They are much easier to mount when visually placing and floating each print in the window like we do larger prints.

    The frame profile i usually use for larger prints is Nielsen profile 22 in contrast grey, and for a print that large I would use acrylic glazing.
    ". . . 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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  3. #3
    fdi
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    Alex, I am not sure about all your details, but we seldom have issues with multi-opening frame jobs (of course we are a frame company which helps). We cut the mats and backing board first. Since we only hinge mount, we will normally just hinge the images directly to the mat assuming the mat will overlap the image. If the mat overlaps the image trimming the print is simple, and in most cases not required at all unless the paper is very large. If we the image is smaller than the mat opening we will hinge the mat the backing board first. We then place the images under the mat and get them aligned. Then we simply lift the mat up out of the way and t-hinge the prints to the backing board one at time. Since the mat is hinged to the backing board it is easy to fold it up and down to get each print aligned properly on the backing board. Since you are dry-mounting it will be a little more difficult. Ideally you will have at least one edge of the mat and backing board that you can line up to get the prints oriented properly under the mat. Then you can carefully lift the mat off and close the dry mount press down. We have some other mounting info here that might help give you an idea.

    Cheers,
    Mark

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    Hi Alex - I do quite a bit of multi image framing and have been for 25 - 30 years. I used to dry mount as you do, with one matte window lapping just into the collective area of the prints on the outside edge. I used to leave a little less than a millimeter between the images. As you say, the mounting time is where all the work is.
    Recently, I've been advised by gallery owners, framers, and APUG members, that dry mounting is not so advisable. It's not considered archival and prospective collectors may not like the irreversability of it. If you do a search in this forum on dry mounting and triptychs (or diptychs) you will find varying opinions about this.
    What I've been doing lately, is carefully measuring the prints, determining the edges where I would cut them. I then measure and mark windows in one matte, leaving a little less than a centimeter between cuts (this is measured on the back side, so the beveled edges on the front will be closer together.) Then I cut the outer edges of the matte board so the image is centered. Then I place each of the prints along side its window one last time to double check the sizing (remember the carpenter's adage - measure twice, cut once). The I cut all of the left edges, then all the right edges. Then I cut all of the bottom, then top edges, taking care to skip the "mullions". By cutting the top and bottom last, the pieces coming out of the windows are easier to keep control of.
    When the matte is done, I trim the the overlaping edges (and only those edges) of the prints to keep an overlap, taking care to have enough to be covered by the matte. Usually the center image is on top of each side image, and the side image runs under the center one just beyond where the inside of the center window is. Last step is to hinge the prints to the back of the matte. (Mark's web site - the above post - has a nice suggestion about hanging over the table edge that makes this easier.)
    This method transfers all of the work from the dry mounting to the framing. I still like the flatness and the closer edges of the dry mounting, but I think the matting solution is probably the way I will do things in the future. If a collector wants a dry mounted image, I'll do one.

  5. #5
    fdi
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    Quote Originally Posted by George Collier View Post
    Recently, I've been advised by gallery owners, framers, and APUG members, that dry mounting is not so advisable. It's not considered archival and prospective collectors may not like the irreversability of it.
    The question of dry mounting does not have a simple answer. It is a very high quality permanent mount method that eliminates warping and buckling of the print over time. The reason that museum’s do not like it is that it can not be undone. Being able to reverse the mounting process is required for very long term preservation. Overtime harmful components will come into the framing package and the buffering on mat and mount board will wear off. Periodically a museum will completely replace everything except the print with new fresh components. If the print has been dry mounted then the mount board can not be replaced. As a result, a high end collector will appreciate a little wave in the print indicating that it has been t-hinged. Your average consumer will view it as a poor or cheap mounting method. In most cases I recommend people t-hinge since it is archive, easy, and inexpensive. However, if you live in an area such as coastal region with humidity problems and your paper is buckling a lot I recommend dry mounting or roller press mounting with pressure activated adhesive. Bainbridge also makes a mounting board with reversible adhesive that is another option. In the end, you have to educate yourself on the needs of your market and do your best to meet those needs in a cost effective manor.

    Cheers,
    Mark

  6. #6
    Alex Hawley's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the good input. I can see where hinge mounting would be an advantage. I'm not quite ready to try it yet on something I'm putting up for sale. I have to try it first.

    Looks like overall I'm on the right track. I guess my main concern is that even with 4-ply backing, the whole assembly (the 40 inch one) gets floppy. Framing it would fix that. But what about mounting directly on foam core? I also seem to remember that maybe dry mounting is possible on some types of foam core but that seems to be a stretch to me.

    Maybe the overall best idea is to hinge or corner mount on a foam core back with standard 4-ply mat board overmatting?
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  7. #7
    fdi
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    We mostly mount to foamcore, regardless of mounting method. The only time we mount to mat board is when we float mount; where the mat opening is larger than the image. In that case the color of the mounting board becomes and an issue and if the foam core color is not appropriate we will mount to a 4-ply mat and then put the foam core behind it.

    Cheers,
    Mark

  8. #8
    Alex Hawley's Avatar
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    Thanks Mark, you've been a big help. Will be looking at your website info closely. It looks very helpful.

    Alex
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  9. #9
    Richard Boutwell's Avatar
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    I feel like I need to preface this by stating that I am writing this post as "Richard the photographer" not "Richard at Superior Archival Materials." I am in the process of setting up another account to keep possible conflicts of interest separate.

    I have never understood why photographers drymount or hinge directly to foam core. Foamcore is so much more prone to physical damage than matboard, and if drymounted, it seems that the photograph is more at risk than if it were on matboard.

    The other aspect that I have never understood is why mount to something that is 3/16" think, and have to deal with transportation and storage issues, when you can mount to something about 1mm think that is effectively just as (if not more) suitable for long term storage. When taking around prints to show collectors or reviewers it is so much easier getting on a plane with 50 prints in carry-on when they only take up 4 or 5 vertical inches as apposed to having all that on foamcore. I have Only used foamcore when, as Mark mentioned, placing it to behind the mount board when framing a piece.

    To get back to the original subject: You would be surprised at how much more stable a 40" piece is when a 4-ply backing is hinged with a 4-ply overmat. If you are not really planning on carrying it around a whole lot it really doesn't need to be all that rigid.
    ". . . 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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  10. #10
    Alex Hawley's Avatar
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    Good thoughts Richard. I was thinking in terms of protecting the piece, thinking perhaps the extra rigidity of the foam board may offer something. I thought it also might make for easier display without framing. That's why I ask these questions. Sure ain't no one in my local area that's trying to do this stuff, that's for sure.
    Semper Fi & God Bless America
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