Framed RC prints: Seal contaminants in or out?
I use Ilford MGIV glossy paper and am committed to creating the highest quality, most permanent framed prints psoobile. I am aware of the VC/fiber debates regarding permanence ahd have chosen to continue alon the RC route. I currently use a two bath fixer protocol and follow with selenium toning with a 1:9 dilution for 2-4 minutes, producing a slight increase in Dmax and an almost imperceptible color shift. I dry mount the print directly onto acid free foam board, overmat with Artcare acid free 4 ply mats, use a glass window and place the print in my own handmade poplar wood frames, dyed black, and topcoated with spray laquer.
My question is regarding if or how I should seal the back of the framed print. After reading some opinions about wood frames being detrimental to a silver print, I began sealing the foam board/print/overmat/glass package in Lineco Frame Sealing Tape, as I found this easier than lining the frame rabbbet with tape, and also because I believed this would keep air pollution, dust and other contaminants from damaging the print. However, more reading has revealed some opinions saying that an RC print should be allowed to "breath", and not be sealed up with its own contaminants.
My options seem to be:
a) Continue to seal the foam board/print/mat/glass package with tape, protecting the print from outside pollution but causing the print to "stew in its own juices";
b) Seal the frame rabbet only with tape, protecting the print from the wood but allowing it to "breathe"; (this is more difficult to do cleanly than it sounds);
c) Seal the gap between the back of the foam board and the frame with tape, keeping dust and airborn popllution out but keeping the wood and print offgassing in;
d) Fix an acid free, brown paper seal to the back of the frame, with effect similar to (c);
e) Don't seal anything -- just pin the mounted package tightly into the frame, which is what I had been doing for years until I had the good fortune of becoming "educated".
Any comments or advice regarding these matters would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks and best regards,
Last edited by Dave Martiny; 06-01-2009 at 09:02 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Just get rid of the spray-painted wood frame! Why that risk after all the acid-free effort?
It is my understanding as well that wood frames are very non-archival themselves.
Hi Dave, I think you may be thinking into this too much. Selenium toning an RC print for 2-4 minutes at 1:9 is a very archival treatment. This will help protect the print from contaminants. Since you've mounted the print, the back of the print is protected from contaminants as well. I like option b, but you'll be risking dust getting in, unless you paper the back. I can understand your want to use your own hand made frames. So I say don't think about it too much. Just slap those nice prints in your wonderful home made frames and enjoy them!
Sure, but why all the expensive acid-free, archival stuff then. Sounds to me that someone is trying to mount spoked wheels onto a Porsche.
Originally Posted by brian steinberger
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This, to me, raises the question: How archivle is RC paper? After all, it is plastic with all it's problems and outgassing. We are told that the poly film sleeves are better than Glassine, and that's plastic too. As an Engineer, I know plastic is never a stable material, however, depending on it's composition, it can last a very long time.
Good questions for research - think I'll do some. Not that I'm worried about my prints - I treat them normally and if they last 50 years I'll be happily gone. I do question to black dye and spray laquer through. Today's laquer is a plastic too and should be of archivel quality.
I wouldn't worry about plastic in general. It's not around long enough to know for sure, but according to the Image Permanence Institute (IPI), an acetate film base has a life expectancy of 50-100 years, whereas a polyester base has a predicted life expectancy of over 500 years. Acetate is mainly used in rollfilm and polyester for sheet film. You can only do better with a glass film base, but if you don't take care of humidity and temperature, bacteria and mold will have your silver-gelatin for lunch anyway.
Originally Posted by bsdunek
Lose the wood frames and switch to aluminum. Every thing else you are doing is good. Both the wood and paint outgas corrosive voc's.
Thinking about the wood frames, I suppose it might make a difference how they are made. If homemade frame = some kind of composite (as I imagine most commercially available frames are), that's probably bad. If it is solid hardwood with archival treatment, might that be okay?
To the best of my knowledge RC prints will bronze out if given enough time and there isn't much that can be done about it except to speed the process up and/or slow the process down by sealing the print in the frame or allowing the print to 'breath' or doing both or doing neither (insert smiley if you need one). Selenium, in my experience, provides no protection at all against bronzing.
It would seem that using fiber paper would be a lot simpler, easier and cheaper than all this jumping through hoops sealing this and/or venting that. Fiber paper has a proven 100+ year lifetime, something RC paper won't have for another 100 years at a minimum. Paper made 10 years ago had serious problems despite protestations at the time that RC paper was archival. There is not, and cannot be, any proof that paper made today does or doesn't have similar problems: it may, it may not - nobody knows.
Yes, fiber takes longer to wash and dry, but I would rather spend my time doing something productive or enjoyable while the print washes rather than use the same time in a futile attempt at curing an unknown longevity problem with framing techniques.
If archival properties are a top issue than the best choice would seem to be fiber base. If processing ease and cost are a top issue than RC material is the best choice and archival properties should be relegated to a non-issue: they simply don't come with a 'budget' grade print. There is no point in wasting anyone's money on archival mat board when framing RC prints, the cheapest chip-board will probably outlive the print.
Ah, my spleen feels so much better for being well vented.
Last edited by Nicholas Lindan; 06-02-2009 at 12:46 PM. Click to view previous post history.