Picture mount over-cuts and undercuts

What exactly is an over-cut or undercut picture mount? What is it that creates these effects? How do you stop them from occurring? What level of under/over cut is acceptable?

An over-cut picture mount

Over cut picture mount

An over-cut picture mount

An over-cut refers to a picture mount that has blade cut over-runs this can be in either one or two directions at any corner. this effect is shown in the picture on the right. In this example the over cut to the right side of the image has happened due of the start point on the mount cutter blade being set too early, the one to the bottom of the picture is due to the end stop on the mount cutter being set too late.

In the case of an over cut mount, whether it is perceived acceptable or not will depend on how bad the over-cuts look to the naked eye. They can be burnished down with a burnishing bone which can smooth  them down to unnoticeable levels. However, badly over-cut mount corners (>1.5mm or so) will not be acceptable and will render the mount scrap.

An undercut picture mount

Under cut picture mount

An undercut picture mount

An undercut picture mount refers to a mount that has blade undercuts and as a result will leave a incompletely cut mount centre that won’t drop out. This undercutting can occur in both directions depending on the blade entry and exit point settings. In the image shown, this particular undercut is caused by the blade entry point having been set too late.

Undercuts (provided they are not too large) can usually be remedied by carefully taking a spare mount cutter blade by hand and holding it at approximately 45o and completing the cuts manually. What you should not be tempted to do is just pull the undercut paper ‘tag’ away, as this can lead to facing paper tears which will likely make the picture mount corner visually unappealing and you may have to start with a new fresh mount board and cut the mount again.

So what defines a perfectly cut picture mount? The ultimate goal is to cut a picture mount in which the centre falls away with no visible over or under cuts. ie the entry points of the blade will exactly coincide with the exit point as seen from the front of the mount.

How achievable is this?

On a mount cutter there are usually several criteria that can affect whether you produce the perfectly mount or not. They include –

  • Blade depth
  • Security of blade (how well is it held in place ie. if its not tightly secured,  it may get pulled out further when you start to cut. This is especially true with thicker mount boards!)
  • Thickness variations of the mount board (changes from board to board, or supplier to supplier)
  • Accurate offset calculations for start and stop points for a particular mount board.
  • Squareness of the mount board edges and corners
  • Uneven hand pressure when pulling the mount cutter head to do the cut.

Changes in any one of the above criteria can lead to over-cut or undercut picture mounts.

A mount cutter can be fine tuned, but will likely need to be adjusted for every different type of mount board cut even though they are all for example labelled as say 1.4mm. I have seen +/-15% thickness differences between mount boards of a certain specified thickness. The thickness also varies with the texture of their facing papers too, heavily patterned boards can add an extra 0.2-0.4mm thickness, where as flat finishes can be more spot on at 1.4mm. Ideally you really need to create a test mount to fine tune the mount cutter based on the board that you want to make the final mount from, this can be done on a smaller piece of mount board to avoid wastage. How many times you choose to do a fine tune of the mount cutter will boil down to how much mount board you want to waste (in test mounts) and how much of a perfectionist you are.

What is an acceptable level of over-cuts and undercuts? The following table summarises what I generally go by –

 Size of over/under cut 0-0.5mm 0.5-1.5mm =>2mm
Undercuts perfect mount acceptable but will likely need manual intervention with a blade to finish it May be retrievable with a blade, but keeping the blade in a straight line at 45o by hand may be difficult
Over-cuts perfect mount acceptable mount, burnish any ragged over-cut edges away unacceptable mount visually

 

 

 

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Creating a Multi-Aperture Picture Mount

A finished multi aperture mountA multi-aperture picture mount is a mount that has multiple openings to accommodate more than one picture in the same mount (and ultimately in the same picture frame). It can be used to group similarly themed photographs or pieces of artwork together. Openings can also be made (if desired) to place titles into the mount which can describe the content.

A multi-aperture mount can be created using even the most basic of mount cutter systems.

The majority of work involved in making a multi-aperture mount should be focused on the planning stage. A well planned approach, including an accurately calculated mount size, choice of board colour, and a detailed sketched outline is required to eliminate potential errors (and wasted board) before any cutting is ever done.

Planning a multi aperture mount

Good planning of the multi-aperture mount is critical to success.

In the following example of a multi-aperture mount I have 3 similarly sized small photographs of a dog. More complex variations of photos, eg all differently sized, would require an even more careful planning and measuring.

In this particular case, there is a straightforward choice of either horizontal or vertical placement of the photos with no title. The customer had chosen vertical placement so I planned around this. Sometimes, although not always, the order of the photos or artworks will be important so it is always best to check with the customer. You can lay the photos on to a piece of mount board to help you with your choice of layout as well as choice of mount board colour. In this case I am just using a whitish cream colour, but quite often more colourful boards work well too. You will just need to experiment!

Planning a multi aperture dimensions

The sketch of your plan is important to list all the spacings and sizes as well as providing a visualisation of your project.

After you have created your layout and chosen the colour of mount board, the next step is to plan it with a sketch. I usually just do a rough and ready drawing on a scrap piece of paper or mount board. In this case, I have measured the photos (cropped) to be 95 x 95 mm each and I want to lay them out with a 30 mm internal gap between each one. The spacing to the outside of the mount should be double this value to look correct. I have also added in 5 mm extra per side making it 65 mm spacing to allow for the 5 mm of rebate of the frame. This will mean that the visible mount (after being framed) will be 60 mm around each outside edge.

I then add up the totals in each dimension (65+95+30+95+30+95+65) = 475 mm in height and (65+95+65) = 225 mm in width. This will be my outside edge mount size. I will then cut both my mount and backing boards down to this size.

Measuring the mount plan on the back of the mount board

Measuring spacings for one of the apertures. Measurements should be referenced to the outside board edge not cumulatively to each other.

Once I have the front mount board I can start to measure and draw the pencil plan on the back side of the board (always use pencils, you can erase the lines to make changes, and they don’t leak ink!).

Note: when you sketch on the back of the board, be aware that it will be the mirror image of what will appear on the front. In my example, it won’t be any different, but if you have different sized images it is something that needs to be taken into account).

Multi aperture mount with cutout pattern shaded

The fully planned and measured mount back with apertures shaded and ready to cut them out.

Measurement and drawing of a  65 mm edge is done by starting from the outside of each edge of the mount board. Measurements should be referenced to the outside board edge not to each drawn line as errors can have a cumulative effect. We measure inwards to include the pencil outline for each mount aperture. Once you have completed this exercise you should have something that shows where all the aperture cut-outs will be.  I usually shade these areas in to highlight them as there can be so many lines sketched out that you can easily get confused when doing the actual bevelled cuts into the mount board with the mount cutter.

It’s time to start cutting the mounts – you can use any mount cutter to do this, but some of the more sophisticated systems can actually be harder to use with multi aperture mounts as you will have to rotate the mount 360 degrees when cutting out each aperture. This can be an issue with bigger or longer multi-aperture mounts which can be obstructed by some of the larger mount cutters’ arms and stops. For this reason, I generally use a hand held mount cutter system which gives me the room and flexibility that I need to move the mount around unrestrictedly whilst cutting it. In this case I am using a short Logan Adapt-a-rule with a pull cutter head. Remember while mount cutting that, as with every other mount cut, you have to use a slip mat behind the mount to cut into at all times. This is easy to forget as you move the multi aperture mount around, but failing to do so will result in bad cuts and bevels.

Multi aperture mount with apertures being cut

Starting to cut out the mount apertures one by one.

I then start to cut each aperture out. It is important to always focus on one aperture at a time. After cutting one opening out, I make a point of using masking tape to stick each cut out aperture back in temporarily to the mount to preserve each mount bevel as I continue to work on the other apertures. This approach also provides a flat surface for the mount cutter to operate on.

Multi aperture mount with apertures cut

The finished mount minus the photos.

When cutting a multi-aperture mount, it is easy to get distracted and cut the wrong line or edge. To avoid this I use the following rule – make sure each of my shaded aperture patches is always visible to the right of the mount cutter head before doing a cut. If you don’t follow this approach, you could end up cutting a few reverse bevels, which would mean a complete restart.

After cutting the 3 apertures out, the mount now looks like the picture on the left (with backing board behind it in this case). The backing board should be attached to the front mount along its longest edge (for stability purposes) with ph7-70 acid free conservation mounting tape. Creating a hinged mount.

Fitting photos to mount with T hinges

Fitting the photos to mount with T hinges

Its now time to add in the photographs. Each photograph can be stuck down with two T-hinges per photo. Alignment/positioning of the photo with the mount can be checked before permanently holding them in place with the T- hinges.

Once this is completed, the multi-aperture mount is now finished and is ready to be framed.

Examples of multi-aperture mounts –

Wedding multi aperture mount

A wedding themed multi aperture mount

1. A wedding multi-aperture mount with title added and framed. A simple layout, but balanced geometrically with a centrally placed title opening. It is also important to make the title look good using a nice font and printed on high quality, textured paper rather than cheap bright white printer paper.

 

 

A complex 3d wartime memorabilia multi aperture mount

A wartime memorabilia themed multi-aperture mount

2. A complex 3D multi-aperture mount to display wartime memorabilia. In this case I had the challenge of creating 3 apertures, one to accommodate a pencil sketch, but two more for the 3D objects (wartime medals and a military service book).

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Picture frame glass cleaning explored

I recently had the opportunity to confront head on an issue that had become apparent while cleaning some ageing 2mm float glass. It made me explore the possibilities as well as finding a solution!

The problem : the 2mm float glass that is commonly used in picture framing is normally supplied in a bulk quantity to the picture framing shop. Bulk can be upwards of 50-100 sheets at a time, which is difficult heavy work to shift all at once. The glass is supplied usually in 1.2m x 0.92m size sheets. They come with a large piece of very thin white paper sandwiched between each glass sheet which offers some scratch protection during transport.

Glass mottling from paper residue

Glass mottling from paper residue (click image to enlarge)

The downside to having these sheets of thin white protection paper is that they are very susceptible to moisture ingress and if not immediately stored in a non damp environment can themselves wick moisture up into the face of the glass sheets leaving a residue on the glass surface. The residue looks like a very faint mottling effect. It is also almost invisible unless viewed at an angle under artificial lighting conditions.

This residue has proven very problematic to remove, resistant to just about every common glass cleaner, and a glass supplier once told me, “Once it’s there, nothing can take it off”. Up until this week, I believed him!

Having received a large delivery of glass quite some time ago, and having chosen to store it in a convenient but slightly damper environment, I proceeded to immediately remove all of the paper from between the sheets when it first arrived. I erroneously though that this would take care of the issue, but now that I’m coming to the end of the supply, I have found that this same glass mottling effect is still prevalent despite the absence of the paper. I can deduce from this that the paper must leave some residue on the glass which remains even after it has been removed. This lingering residue then appears to react to dampness which hardens into the slightly visually mottled effect, resembling a faint “etched” like appearance.

I had previously found no glass cleaner that could clean it. I was convinced it was surface contamination rather than an actual ‘etching’ effect, because I found that you could actually remove some of it with a flat sharp blade. I found that this worked even better when the blade was combined with some glass cleaner as a lubricant. However using the blades could have the downside of leaving hairline scratches on the glass which is a non-starter with picture framing. I had to find another solution to clean these sheets or risk having to throw them out completely.

To start with, I identified that the mottling effect was only happening on one face of the glass. This I surmised was likely due to the paper surfaces having one face different from the other, and one side being prone to leaving the residue. I then tried a few different methods of removal listed in the table below along with the outcomes –

Methods tested  Results
Greenline Glass CleanerGreenline Glass and Stainless Steel cleaner No visible removal of mottling
Greenline Glass CleanerGreenline Glass and Stainless Steel cleaner + mount cutter blade surface scape Partial or whole removal of mottling but with risk of fine glass scratches and slight streaking.
Selden glass cleanerSelden Glass & VDU cleaner No visible removal of mottling
Mr Muscle glass cleanerMr Muscle Window and Glass cleaner No visible removal of mottling
zest_it_solventZest-it solvent No visible removal of mottling
white vinegarTesco White Wine vinegar Used raw, undiluted led to immediate removal of surface mottling, although sometimes required a light second finishing wipe. Then cleaned with a final standard ph-neutral glass cleaner clean afterwards.

As you can see, the only really reliable approach was found using one of the oldest known glass cleaning substances – undiluted vinegar and kitchen roll. The effect was immediate and repeatable with clean kitchen roll used to wipe it off.

Cleaned glass ready for picture frame

Cleaned glass ready for picture frame (click to enlarge image)

Now this raises another issue in that vinegar is essentially acetic acid with water, and has a ph of 4-5 (acidic). It also has the usual pungent vinegar smell, which is hardly going to appeal to anyone picking up a picture frame!

To avoid leaving acidic residues which could in turn affect the longevity of the mount and artwork, I gave the glass a thorough dry before applying two coats (and clean off) with my regular glass cleaner which has a more ph-neutral rating and a much less pungent smell.

Top tip: If you have to use this technique to clean your glass, just remember to clear away all the vinegar soaked kitchen towels as well as the vinegar bottle before the customers arrive to pick their frames up, other wise they might just think they turned up at the local chip shop!

 

 

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Conservation mounting, protection for your artwork

a picture mountA  picture mount is meant to protect and preserve as well as to decorate and enhance the appearance of an artwork, photo or drawing. Unfortunately, a lot of mounting not only fails to meet this basic criteria, but can also increase damage to the artwork.

Ageing of artwork can happen as a result of exposure to UV light, but more often it comes from acidic tapes, papers, mount board and backing board which leads to the characteristic ‘browning’ of artwork paper after a period of time.

A quote from a document titled, “Caring for your prints, drawings and watercolours” from the National Archives explains –

“Any exposure to light harms media and paper, but poor quality mounting and framing damages more works of art on paper than any other agent. Prints, drawings and watercolours can be ruined through contact with unsuitable framing materials, just as they can by amateur restoration and the use of inappropriate techniques in handling, storage and display.”

Brown frame backing tape used extensively on picture mount

Brown frame backing tape had been used extensively on this picture mount. Both the print and mount would age rapidly with this much acid about.

Brown frame backing tape used extensively on picture mount

Brown acidic frame backing tape used quite extensively on picture this picture mount. Little regard had been paid to preservation! This piece had been mounted by a professional framing company and it was done to a giclée print that had cost the artist more than £100 to reproduce!

In my time as a picture framer I am quite frequently presented with old artworks that require attention due to ageing (browning and warping caused by unsuitable tapes). One piece that was recently brought in was actually glued to the backing board which itself had warped and had started to discolour the print’s paper. Most pieces brought in for ‘restoration’ nearly always require a new mount with suitable tape attachment.

All too often I have come across cheap tapes used by whoever had done the previous mount or frame. This ranges from the cheapest of cheap cellotape or masking tape, to the sturdier, but still inappropriate for mount use, frame backing tapes. Many tapes can also become brittle, lose their adhesive and simply fall off. Believe it or not there are still lots of picture framers doing this poor, shoddy work. I suppose the idea is that they can save a bit of money and no-one will notice when the frame is closed, finished and paid for! However, picture framers should really take on the responsibility of preserving the customer’s work using best conservation practices.

Acid attack on artwork from brown tape

Brown acid ageing of the thick paper on this giclée print had happened due to brown frame backing tape being used for mounting purposes. This happened in a relatively short period of time 1-2 years approximately!

Conservation mounting is the process of using materials and techniques which provide protection to framed works of art on paper and preserving them from this ageing process.

So how do you protect against ageing in a picture mount?

Materials

The first step is to choose acid neutral papers, mount boards, other boards and tapes to do the job.

Conservation mount board is quite commonly available these days, and will help reduce ageing. Creating an acid free sandwich of a mount/backing board, ie conservation mount on front with a backing board of conservation mount board before the actual backing board, will also help prevent ageing.

Picture mount / frame layers

The layers involved in a standard conservation picture mount / frame.

I have also successfully used acid free foam board as a good, solid, robust mount backing board for larger prints or mounted prints for display purposes.

Alternatively, for a cheaper but still ph-neutral solution, there are some boards now available that combine waterproof surface, brown backing and a layer of white conservation paper on the face.

These boards are 2mm thick and offer affordable conservation. These boards are quite flexible, however, so for more expensive prints and original artwork, mount board or foam board with a hard MDF type backing would be the better option.

Mount board types

  1. Museum level
    For framing any valued original artwork. Cotton museum grade mount board is made from 100% cotton fibre – a traditional paper-making material, proven stable for hundreds of years. It can be un-buffered (neutral pH) or buffered with an alkali deposit which prolongs the stability of the board and provides some extra protection.
  2. Conservation level
    For framing original artworks. Conservation grade mount board made from chemically purified wood pulp and then alkaline buffered. The core and facings must meet certain criteria such as light fastness, pH ranges and quality of lamination adhesives.
  3. Standard level
    Not recommended for conservation framing. Standard mount board  is made from unpurified wood pulp. Unpurified wood pulp will gradually break down and release acidity, thereby damaging the picture. Although many wood pulp boards are now buffered with an alkali and described as ‘acid-free’, this is misleading. Standard mount board will brown over time and it will produce a brown looking core.

Tapes

Ph neutral tapes are the best choice for mounting to prevent ageing. They can come in self-adhesive paper, gummed paper and gummed cotton rag variety. The choice of which really boils down to how expensive the artwork is, how long you want to preserve it, or whether you or anyone else for that matter may ever want to be able to reverse the use of the tape by removing it at some point without damaging the artwork. Gummed tape can be removed by wetting, whereas self adhesive tapes would require solvent use. Can your expensive artwork handle a drop or two of water to remove the tape? Or could it withstand a solvent? Perhaps not, but these are valid questions to ask when choosing your mounting tape.

Mounting tape types –
Self adhesive ph7-70 conservation mounting tape Ph7-70 self-adhesive conservation tape: Is a high quality white 70gsm kraft paper tape with acid-free pH neutral acrylic adhesive. pH7-70 tape has excellent ageing qualities. High initial grab, which is helpful for art on heavier paper, and for working with textured or uneven paper and board surfaces. It is self-wound, with no liner to remove, making for faster working. It is ideal for hinging low value prints and artwork into mounts. Would require solvent to remove successfully.
Gummed archival tape Gummed Acid Free (Conservation) Archival Tape: Is a white, gummed, acid-free (pH 7 neutral) paper tape. It is coated with an acid-free, water-based acrylic adhesive system, is non-ageing and therefore will not turn yellow. It can be used in most framing projects for attaching artwork. This gummed tape is designed to allow artwork to be released easily from the tape (with water) and is recommended for conservation standard work.
Cotton rag tape Cotton Rag Gummed Archival Tape: For the ultimate ‘museum quality’ conservation, you can use cotton rag tape made from cotton fibres with a 2% calcium carbonate buffer and naturally lignin (a natural substance in wood derived products that contributes to ageing in papers) free with a pH-range of 7-8.
Ph7-70 acid neutral double sided atg tape Ph7-70 acid neutral double sided ATG tape:  A pH neutral double-sided self-adhesive tape – 19mm x 30m. Conservation grade, pH neutral, double-sided tape, acid neutral, using a water-based, acid neutral acrylic adhesive system which will not react with board or papers and can hence be used for conservation purposes. ATG tape gun compatible, although a tape gun is not required to use it. Important for sticking together double mounts where you are keeping the whole mount environment “acid free”. Cheaper acidic tapes can eventually be seen (as a browning) through the front face of a 1.4mm mount board given enough time.

Hinging

T-hinge picture mount

A T-hinge is commonly used to attach an artwork to a backing mount board before front mount is placed over it.

The attachment of the artwork to the mount board by tape should be done by creating ‘hinged’ attachment points between the artwork and the mount board. Hinges should allow the picture to hang safely and should be applied only to the top edge of the artwork. The amount of tape attaching to the artwork should really be as little as possibly required to hold it in place without being seen.  On thinner paper types, tape hinges can show through as a bump, so they should always avoid being placed behind the visible area of the artwork.

Hinge types can include T-hinges and S-Hinges both of which can be use to attach an artwork to the backing board. T-hinges are more standard and are stuck to one side of the backing mount board as well as the back of the artwork. They form a T-shape, and allow the artwork to hang and hinge at their attachment point. T-hinges can be paralleled up along the top edge of the artwork being mounted. Lightweight prints may only need 2 T-hinges, heavier ones 4-8 T-hinges, depending on how much space there is along the top edge. This way, you can evenly distribute a long, heavy piece of paper along a row of T-hinges.

S-hinges can be useful if you intend to display the artwork without a top (bevelled) mount.  They actually go through holes cut into the backing mount board and attach to the artwork back and the back of the backing mount board. However, the artwork would still require to be kept from touching the glass (which is one of the main roles of the bevelled top mount), so small spacers would be needed in this case to keep the glass floating from the artwork. These can be hidden under the frame rebate.

Common mistakes

A common mistake found with mounted artwork that I see is that the artwork has been surrounded by tape on all 4 sides (usually with one of the cheaper tapes, as I have mentioned before). This will most likely lead to warping or distortion of the paper or artwork with time as it changes with heat and humidity variations as well as age. When something is held down on all four sides, it has no scope for movement (expansion/contraction) in relation to its surrounding mount. To avoid this, mounts should only be attached on the top edge by tape hinges with the other 3 edges left to float/move naturally. The artwork will still be held in place by the mount itself, but will now be able to expand/contract in relation to the surrounding mount.

It is also common practice to attach the tape to the front mount itself, but you may want to consider that the weight of the artwork may be enough to distort the front mount over time (depending on how sturdy its is) so it may be wiser to attach the artwork with tape to the rear mount board instead, which is a more solid intact piece of board. This technique may not be the best option when you need a precision fit of the artwork to the mount, eg if you are trying to show a 6mm white print border edge the whole way around evenly, where any slight offset may look glaringly wrong.

Materials to use/avoid in conservation mounting

Materials to avoid in conservation mounting Materials to use in conservation mounting
Standard cheap mount board Conservation or Museum grade mount board
Cheap every day tapes
– cellotape type tapes
– masking tapes
– parcel tape
– frame backing tapes
– glues
Conservation grade tapes- ph7-70 self adhesive tape
– conservation gummed tape
– cotton rag tape
Mount backing to acidic brown cardboard or MDF Mount backing to conservation grade mount board or a suitable acid free buffer layer

Other conservation issues

Glass : An artwork should never come in contact with the glass. Spacing the artwork away is necessary for air circulation. The mount usually serves this function, however, sometimes with 3D or deep artwork, eg 3D acrylic, oil paints, sculpted  paintings, tapestries and stitched artwork, it may be necessary to add more spacing. This can be done using double or triple mounts, thick mounts, slips, fillets or special spacers. This will also be the case with frames where it is required that the artwork ‘floats’ on  a backing board with no mount, in which case spacers can be used to lift the glass off the artwork. Special plastic or wood spacers can be utilised which hide behind the rebate.

Light : An artwork can deteriorate with excessive UV light. Pictures should always be kept out of direct sunlight, but even non direct daylight will provide enough UV deterioration. Fluorescent lights are also a strong source of UV. To combat UV the fluorescent bulbs can be fitted with UV filters. UV filtering glass can also be used in the picture frame.

Heat: Excessive heat can easily distort paper, board or backing board, and even the frame itself in worst cases. It is therefore very important to not hang conservation artwork over radiators, fireplaces or any other heat sources.

Humidity: Humidity can be another source of distortion in artwork and mount board, as well as a trigger for mould formation. Damp or humid environments should be avoided where possible.

Insect Ingression: It is quite common to see common dust mites and other small insects crawl through small gaps in frames and work their way into the picture mount. Often dying there and looking like a smudged bit of dirt on the picture mount or, worse still, they may start breeding there! To reduce the chances or insect ingression, you can tape seal the mount/glass sandwich around the edges (with a good quality pH-neutral tape). You will also want to make a good backing tape seal, especially in the frame rebate corners. A final sheet of brown dust cover paper may also be stuck down on the frame rear which will add another layer of protection.

Summary

Conservation mounting is not just a concept that should be used by museums and fine art establishments, it should be used as an every day practice at every mounting/framing level to prevent your artwork from brown acidic damage that can happen all too quickly with cheaper materials. Be aware of the potential for some unscrupulous framers using cheap material solutions that are about as far from conservation principles as possible. Every framer should have the responsibility to preserve their clients’ artwork as a primary goal – that is every bit as important as the presentation and final appearance of the framed artwork itself.

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Clearance Framing Items

clearance framing itemsWe now have a page for discounted  Clearance Framing Items on the shop. We may change the page on a frequent basis as things are sold. They are priced to move, and are available as a one off. Once they are gone they are gone!

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PH7-70 Tape 25mm x 66m now available unboxed at a cheaper discounted price.

self-adhesive-ph7-70-conservation-mounting-tape-25mm-x-55m-unboxed--1602-pWe are now stocking the popular ph7-70 conservation (archival) mounting tape (25mm x 66m) in an unboxed variety with a significantly discounted price. The tape is identical (25mmx66m) to the boxed version as shown in the image, but it is supplied without the box.

Single sticky sided ph-neutral (acid free acrylic adhesive) conservation (archival) tape for hinging artwork to the picture, photo or art mount. This tape will not cause browning of artwork and is conservation grade with excellent ageing qualities. High quality 70gsm, self wound (no backing to remove), and works with a variety of paper textures. Size: 25mm wide by 66m length.

This makes it a cheaper way for you to do conservation art mounting for all your photographs, paintings and other artworks that require acid (ageing) protection.

You can of course still buy the ph7-70 conservation (archival) tape boxed version which is available too.

 

 

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A 3D Box Frame for Framing a Sports Shirt

Framed shirt in a 3D box frameProject summary :

An autographed sports shirt requires to be mounted and framed in a narrow black shallow rebate moulding. (Many frames for sports shirts are constructed with deep rebate mouldings, limiting choice).

Method :

  1. Prepare the shirt, iron it and then make it rigid for mounting.
  2. Mount ‘rigid’ shirt by sewing the shirt on to black foam board
  3. Cut a mount to surround the shirt and space it from the backing board with pieces of black core foam board.
  4. Build wooden box walls.
  5. Attach a backing board to the wooden box walls.
  6. Create a frame from moulding.
  7. Glaze.
  8. Fit mount to wooden box.
  9. Join together and finish.

This process sounds straightforward, but the first 2 steps can take over 2 hours to do. Stretching and stitching the shirt to the backing foam board is a slow and manually intensive task.

Lets take a look at each stage –

1. Prepare the shirt, iron it and then make it rigid for mounting

I started off by ironing the shirt, as it would otherwise just be crumpled and creased. I do this by putting a tea towel between the shirt and the iron so that I don’t damage the shirt or signatures in any way. In this example it is a cotton shirt and I do want to get the creases out, so I used the iron on a steam setting. Note: this may not be the best setting for other shirt materials (please consult the garment labels before ironing!). Remember to iron the sleeves and collar to be as close to the way you want them to appear when  framed.

Shirt stretched and waiting to be stitched

Shirt stretched and waiting to be stitched

Stitching the shirt to the backing board

Stitching the shirt to the backing board

To make the shirt rigid, I cut out a piece of mount board in roughly the shape of the shirt but wider, so that the shirt will stretch out and look unwrinkled. The mount board is used white side forward so as not to let a colour show through, making the shirt appear less than white! I made a rounded cut-out at the collar location so that the mount board would not be visible. You can see the mount board in the image shown as I have the collar undone to allow access for stitching. In this project I also made small mount board cut-outs to stretch the sleeves as they had to display the logos on the sides of them correctly. All mount board cut-outs are carefully positioned inside the shirt to give it a flat, stretched out look.

The sewing is done at various points around all the edges of the stretched shirt and sleeves to hold it firmly in place on the backing foam board. I tend to use a standard cotton thread that is as close to the colour of the shirt as possible with a medium sized standard sewing needle.

Making hidden stitches behind the collar

Making hidden stitches behind the collar

You can sometimes sew directly from the visible side of the shirt to the foam board at the back if the thread is very close in colour and you make stitches at the location of existing shirt seams where they will not be as noticeable.

Where possible, just hide the stitches – eg behind the collar is a great place. The shirt will need to be stitched several times and in different places along the neck and shoulders as this will be the best anchor point for ‘hanging’.

Stitches through the backing foam board

Stitches through the backing foam board

I usually do about 20-30 separate stitching points in total to secure the shirt to the backing board. After I finish each stitch I cut the thread, then tape down the loose ends of the thread to the back of the foam board with ph7-70 self adhesive conservation tape.

Stitched shirt standing vertically

Stitched shirt standing vertically

After the shirt has been stitched to the backing foam board, you should be able to stand it upright and see how it looks when it is vertical. If you see any loose or crumpled areas or some other gravity effect you don’t like the look of, then you will need to add in another stitch or two to make it look better. It should be noted that this is how the shirt will look in the frame while hanging on a wall.

3. Cut a mount to surround shirt and space it from backing board with pieces of black core foam board

Cutting a mount for a shirt is no different from cutting a mount for a picture, except that shirts are large and hence the surrounding mount will be large too!  You also have to be able to keep the glass away from the shirt and hence need the box frame to do this. The mount itself should be wide enough to hide the internal sides of the box. After I cut the mount, I use strips of black core foam board (so it’s dark and invisible should anyone peek in behind the mount) to space the mount from the backing foam board. The foam board strips are held in place by ph7-70 ATG double sided tape.

Stitched shirt with mount attached to backing board

Stitched shirt with mount attached to backing board

Once finished, the mount and foam board strips and foam backing board should look something like this. It is starting to look like the finished item.

4. Build wooden box walls

Box frame walls waiting to be joined

Box frame walls mitred and waiting to be joined

For the walls of the ‘box’ I just use thin strips of inexpensive 44 x 12mm (1 3/4″ x 1/4″) pine wood bought from a local timber store. I use the mitre guillotine to mitre them and join them with v-nails as I would for a standard frame.

Box frame walls with v-nail join

Box frame walls with v-nail joins on both sides

The v-nails are put into both the top and bottom edges of the box corners, as well as wood gluing them together. The size of wood you use here will determine the depth of the box, so if you want a deeper box then go for >44mm if you want less depth go for <44mm. The whole point of the box is for it to be deep enough to keep the shirt (or another 3D object) from contacting the glass. Just measure your object’s deepest dimension to come up with an acceptable depth.

5. Attach a backing board to wooden box walls

Taped and screwed MDF on back of wooden box

Taped and screwed MDF on back of wooden box

I then cut out a piece of 2mm MDF to the exact outside edge size of the wooden box walls. This backing MDF can be screwed or nailed down to the box walls. The end result will be an open sided box, almost like a crate with a front missing. I finish the long edges off by taping them together with ECO25 frame backing tape before securing the MDF backing with pan headed wood screws.

6. Create a frame from moulding

Frame sitting on top of box

Front frame sitting on top of wooden box

The next step is to cut the actual frame moulding. Because we have created a box (in effect a deep rebate), we can use any shallow rebate moulding to surround this box. This gives us a lot of flexibility when it comes to moulding choice – we can use any moulding, as opposed to just using the one or two deep rebate mouldings that we may happen to have in stock. We cut the front frame to fit the box outside edges. Once finished, it should sit perfectly on the wooden box as shown. We can remove the frame for now and place it to one side. One point of note is that there will be no weight bearing done by the front frame as the cord and d-rings will be screwed into the box, so theoretically, you can use quite fine moulding here.

7. Glaze

Mount and shirt with glazing

Mount and shirt with glazing

I usually use a small vacuum cleaner to clear out any loose specks of dust, dirt and hairs or threads inside the foam or mount enclosure and the shirt surface before fitting the glazing. Remember that this is the last chance to spruce the shirt up before displaying it. We can now cut the glazing to fit exactly on top of the mount after cleaning both sides of the glass. This will keep all external dust, dirt etc out of the shirt and mount area.

8. Fit mount to wooden box

Shirt mount fitted into box enclosure

Shirt mount with glazing fitted into box enclosure

The mount with shirt and foam backing can then be fitted into the wooden box that we created earlier. The mount edges (and glass edges) should completely cover the wooden box to its outside edges. If the depth of your mount is slightly smaller than the depth of the box, you can pad out the difference with foam board offcuts.

9. Join together and finish

Right angled picture plate holding frame together

Right angled picture plate holding frame together

The next step involves placing the constructed outer frame (moulding) over the glazed and boxed shirt. We then proceed to join the moulding to the wooden box. For this I am using brass plated right angled picture plates which are screwed into both the wooden box sides and the back of the moulding.

Frame finishing with D-Rings, low stretch picture cord and felt pads

Frame finishing with D-Rings, low stretch picture cord and felt pads

To finish the frame I delicately flip it over, face down on bubble wrap to protect the moulding face from damage and place felt pads at each bottom corner (for wall protection) as well as  brass plated two hole d-rings at the side and at the bottom of the box frame (not the front frame) to distribute load. I tie it up with #3 low stretch picture cord.

The frame is now finished and looks just like the first image at the top of this article.

Discussion

3D box frames can be accomplished more simply with a deep rebate moulding, quite often without a mount, but this generally limits the choice of mouldings that you can offer. It also limits the depth of the frame box to whatever the rebate depth is, which may be fine for some thinner 3D objects and collarless sports shirts. With the method described in this article, I can build deeper boxes if needed so that I can frame something with bigger depth dimensions without the need for specialised deep rebate mouldings.

The only downside to 3D frames is the time it takes to make them, which can take anywhere from upwards of 5 hours.

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Bifurcated Rivets with D-Rings

Bifuricated RivetSometimes you may find yourself using a moulding that is just way too narrow to attach a screw and D-Ring to. If you do, the rounded edge of the D-Ring can end up being visible from the front of the frame when hanging on the wall, which isn’t pleasant to look at.

One alternative is to continue to use D-Rings but instead of screwing the D-Rings to the frame, you can attach the D-Rings to the backing board by using Bifurcated Rivets. This is method I’d recommend for lighter frames only as there is a finite strength to MDF backing boards. The Bifurcated Rivets come in both nickel plated and brass plated finishes and require no specialised hardware to fit (a ruler, pencil, bradawl, screwdriver and hammer will suffice).

The procedure for attaching them to the backing board is as follows –

MDF Backing Board Measured for Bifurcated Rivets 1. Select a backing board at least 2mm thick MDF. (a relatively solid material). Mark the two points where the rivets are going to go (about 1/3rd way down from top and about 30mm in from sides)
 Use a bradawl to punch holes through the MDF 2. Use a bradawl to punch holes through the MDF at your measured points. make the holes close to 3mm in size – just wide enough so as to allow the bifurcated rivets to push through.
D-Ring with Bifurcated Rivet 3. Push the rivet through the hole of the D-Ring and then through the hole you have made in the MDF.
Splaying a Bifurcated Rivet 4. Turn the MDF over to see the rivet protruding from the other side of the board. Place the D-Ring and Rivet head on an old wooden off cut, and place a screwdriver over gap in the rivet legs.
Bifurcated Rivet Legs 5. Hit the screwdriver shaft with a hammer to start to splay the rivet legs.
Splayed Bifurcated Rivet 6. Take away the screwdriver and splay the rivet further apart with a hammer. Flattening the rivet legs against the board. If you are not using a barrier board between the backing and the artwork, then at this stage you should tape over these ends as they may push against the artwork (which is really not desirable). I recommend using a mount board or similar barrier layer of acid free board between the artwork and the backing board.
D-Rings attached by Bifurcated Rivets 7. Repeat with other D-Ring.
Finished Frame Backing wiht Bifurcated Rivets and D-Rings 8. Assemble the frame and finish tying picture cord between the two D-Rings. Congratulations the picture frame is now ready to hang.

 

 

 

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Frameless Clips, Swiss Clips and Clip Frames

Swiss Clip Clip Frame

A clip frame sandwich held together with Swiss Clips

We sell a lot of frameless clips which are used to create a frameless picture or clip frame.

The clip frame should consist of a ‘frame sandwich’ of –

  • Glass/perspex
  • A picture mount (optional)
  • Artwork
  • Backing mount for art protection (optional)
  • Backing board (Usually hardboard or MDF for strength).

The clip frame has its use where either you don’t want to go to the expense of having a frame for your artwork, or you would like to have artwork displayed right to the edge of the frame.

Clips can accommodate sandwiches of different thicknesses. In order to find out how thick your sandwich is just total the thickness of each part of your sandwich eg. (glass 2mm + mount 1.4mm + art 0.1mm + backing mount 1.4mm + backing board 2.0mm = 6.9mm, so I’d likely need to use the 7.5mm swiss clips or the 8mm frameless clips).

Glazing should always be smoothed around the edges to avoid exposing sharp edges. Glass in particular can be very sharp when left raw after a cut so make sure to smooth the edges of the glass  before using it in a frameless clip frame, a Tellum pad is ideal for this purpose.

There are several clips available to you for holding the frameless/clipframe sandwich together and there are also a few options available for hanging the frameless clip frame too –

Clip Name Max Sandwich Thickness Uses Notes on Use Hanging Options

Simple Frameless Clip

Simple Frameless Clips

4mm max Small clip frames Easy to just push on.Useful in small applications, but no securing mechanism.
3.8mm Frameless Clip3.8mm Frameless Clips 3.8mm (clips are 3mm wide) Tiny / small clip frames Requires a Pair of Levers to open. No hanging attachment. No securing mechanism.
8mm Frameless Clip8mm Frameless Clip 8mm (clips are 7mm wide) Small / medium sized clip frames. Requires a Pair of Levers to open. No hanging attachment. No securing mechanism.
20mm Frameless Clip20mm Frameless Clips 8mm (clips are 20mm wide) Medium / larger sized clip frames. Where extra strength and rigidity is required. Requires a Pair of Levers to open. No hanging attachment. No securing mechanism.
7.5mm Swiss ClipSwiss Clip 7.5mm 7.5mm max. Small / medium clip frames. Requires a small hole to be drilled into backing board in order to lock each clip in place. Hole position : 27.5mm in from side.
10mm Swiss Clip with Hanging HoleSwiss Clip 10mm 10mm max. Medium / large clip frames. Requires a small hole to be drilled into backing board in order to lock each clip in place. Hole position : 27.5mm in from side. Has it’s own hanging loop as part of the clip.
11mm Swiss ClipSwiss Clip 11mm 11mm max. Medium / large clip frames Requires a small hole to be drilled into backing board in order to lock each clip in place. Hole position : 27.5mm in from side.
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Brown Picture Hanging Cord

Brown Picture Hanging CordWe now have in stock brown picture hanging cord. It comes in –
Brown Picture Hanging Cord No.1,
Brown Picture Hanging Cord No.2,
Brown Picture Hanging Cord No.3
varieties/sizes. It has similar strength and characteristics as white picture hanging cord, but it is made in polypropylene. It does look very handsome on the back of a quality framing job. The colour of the cord would suit the bronze coloured D-Rings, but would also look good with Brass plated D-Rings too.

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