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Picture Framing, Matting and Mounting
   Questions and Answers -- Page 4

What is dry mounting?
Dry mounting is a process which flattens and permanently mounts artwork to the backing board. The 'dry' part of the term means that no risky wet adhesives are used in the mounting process. Instead, a sheet of dry adhesive material is placed between the artwork and the backing board.

Then both are placed into a large vacuum press, which flattens the artwork as it heats the adhesive to cause a permanent bond to the backing board. Our heat/vacuum dry mount presses can mount artwork as large as 40" x 60". 

Dry mounting serves two purposes:

One is to flatten the artwork. Paper artwork can easily become wrinkled from handling. Dry mounting will remove virtually all wrinkling from damaged artwork. Even sharp crinkles, which have broken the fibers of the paper artwork, will be flattened out (although you may still see a line where the fibers were permanently damaged).

Second is to keep the artwork flattened, regardless of the environment. Artwork that is not full-surface mounted will expand and contract over time, depending on heat and humidity. These expansions and contractions can translate into undesirable undulations and bowing of the artwork within the frame. A dry mounted piece of artwork will remain flat, regardless of changes in the surrounding environment.

What should not be dry mounted?
You should not dry mount any artwork which would be reduced in value by being permanently attached to the backing board. This would include original artwork, limited editions and any collectable piece. In the minds of collectors, mounted artwork is not as valuable as the same artwork in its original form. 

You should not dry mount art which will melt at 190 degrees. This would include wax-based artwork; fax paper and some of today's color copies. In these cases, a careful wet mounting process should be employed in a cold press.

What is wet mounting?
Wet mounting is different from dry mounting only by the type of adhesive used to attach the artwork to its backing board. A spray glue or paste is applied between the artwork and the backing rather than using a sheet of dry adhesive. The wet mounted piece is usually processed with a vacuum press as if it were being dry mounted, except without heat being applied. 

The disadvantages of wet mounting are that:

Moisture is introduced directly onto the artwork.

There is more risk of the mounting process damaging artwork than with dry mounting.

It is the least preferred mounting option. However, some types of artwork cannot withstand the heat of the dry mount process and wet mounting may be the only permanent, full-surface mounting option.

What is glazing?
Glazing is the general term for a clear coating that protects artwork while allowing you see it. There are many forms of glazing, including glass, acrylic, lamination and styrene. And there are many forms within each of these glazing categories, such as clear, non-glare, reduced reflection and U.V. protective. There is no single glazing material that is perfect for all framing conditions.

And there are advantages and disadvantages to using each.
Regular clear glass has been the most common type of glazing. It is durable and more scratch-resistant than non-glass forms of glazing material. Common disadvantages are that most forms are brittle and breakable, and weigh more than acrylic glazing alternatives. Glass inherently provides a low level of U.V. filtering (less than 50%). Regular clear glass will generally be the least expensive glazing.

In locations where reflection from strong lighting might be a problem, reflection control glass may improve your ability to view the framed artwork. Its ability to diffuse light also tends to make the image it protects less distinct. Sometimes the softer image caused by reflection control glass is desirable, but sometimes it masks sharp details. The quality of reflection control glass varies considerably and its use should be carefully considered. Reflection control glass will cost more than clear glass. The main benefit of reflection control glass is the reduction of glare. It does not provide any additional U.V. protection.

Anti-Reflection (or AR) glass is a special, optically coated glass that significantly reduces reflection and glare. It serves the same purpose as reflection control glass, but without softening or diffusion of the image. In most lighting situations artwork appears to be unglazed. People often feel compelled to reach out and touch the glazing to make sure it's there. The advantage of AR glass is its incredible visual clarity. The U.V. filtering properties of AR glass are the same as regular clear and reflection control glass.

Framing grade acrylic makes an excellent glazing. It is lighter than glass and less prone to breaking. This makes it an ideal material for artwork that will be placed in the room of a child, high activity area, or public location. Acrylic will scratch more easily than glass, especially lower grades, which are sometimes called plexi-glass. Acrylic is available with the same clear, reflection control, and AR finishes as glass. Acrylic is a more expensive glazing than glass.

Lamination is a light-duty glazing, which protects the surface of artwork from dirt and liquids, but not necessarily from physical penetration. Lamination is a thin film of plastic material which is applied to the surface of a previously mounted piece of flat art. A heat/vacuum dry mount press is used to fuse the plastic film permanently to the surface of the artwork. The cost of lamination is similar to that of other glazings. Its major advantages are that it is lightweight, it does not require a frame to hold it onto the artwork, and it is penetrable (by push-pins, for instance.) The lamination material used at Studio Seven Arts is inherently U.V. protective, and it is available with a matte or faux canvas finish.

Frame, mat and mounting questions and answers:
Frame types - page 1
Matting techniques - page 2
Mat types and mounting - page 3
Glass and backing - page 5

As you consider custom framing, you may wish to:
Review questions and answers about custom framing
Review frame, mat, and mounting questions and answers
Learn about different classifications of printed art

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