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Articles by Chris A. Paschke, CPF GCF

Picture Framing Magazine: New Trends Issue

"2001...A Mounting Odyssey"

January 2001

"Odyssey: any long series of wanderings, especially ones filled with notable experiences." Well, picture framing has turned out to be one of my odysseys. Over the past thirty years of my involvement within this industry I have seen, destroyed, repaired, mounted, remounted, correctly mounted, too many projects to mention. I wandered alone for years with my new vacuum press, somewhat undirected, yet knowing there had to be ways to wrap with fabrics in that press; transfer images to watercolor papers; and laminate photos that were 40"x60" without crushing the outer edges of the full sized foam boards. Long story short, through trial and error, creating many notable disasters, I uncovered the answers then began teaching and ultimately wrote my books so that other framers, new ones, embarking on their own odyssey would have more help, more notable experiences. And now after writing a decade of "new trends" articles for Picture Framing Magazine it's time to launch us into the new wave of framing, the 21st century, the newest odyssey of all.

Trends and Concepts

It is truly hard to believe I am sitting down to write the January new trends column for 2001. So what does the future hold for the framing industry? What are any new trends? I stated last year that no matter how high tech the framing industry becomes, or how many computers it takes to run a shop, calculate POS prices, or complete framing jobs on-line there will always be the need for mounting. Thank goodness the manual aspect of gluing something down to a substrate or suspending it within a frame will always exist.

Regardless of conservation or decorative applications the need to understand all versions of wet glues, spray glues, pressure-sensitives, and dry mounting will prevail. What a relief. But have the applications changed? Well, the base methods may have not specifically changed (still wet, spray, p-s, dry heat), but some of the players may have been modified and new products with differing requirements continue to be introduced.

Heat-Activated Boards

Last year I told you to stay tuned for mounting product updates, and here's one for 2001. Nielsen Bainbridge has released a new heat-activated foam board product called Speed Mount™. Not a new concept you say. True enough. Heat-activated boards (aka: adhesive-coated boards, preadhesived boards) come with adhesives already applied to them and these boards are found as pressure-sensitives (p-s) and heat-activated (HA) types. The substrate structure, rigidity, and ease of cutting all remain consistent as with any mount or foam board. They have been available from many manufacturers and were originally designed to alleviate time constraints for production framing operations. They have been traditionally priced to reflect the cost of the basic foam center board plus a layer of adhesive, designed and priced not to cost more, simply being much more time effective.

Heat Acivated Temperatures

The interesting thing about this new Bainbridge product (Speed Mount) is its time and temperature claims. The board claims it bonds in 15 seconds at 150°F, which is quite a claim. This speed mounting issue has not occurred since Seal introduced MT-5 (Mounting Tissue-5 seconds) some 30 years ago. It has been awhile since there has been a dry mount tissue or board that claims such a low bondingtemperature as this new 150° product. And that in itself is an extremely attention getting point. The lower the temperature the less chance for potential problems with surface damage.

High gloss RC photographs are prone to surface scuffing which seems to be a combination of temperature and silicone damage from the release paper. Lower temperatures will cut back on that damage potential. Other situations where lower temperature adhesives would be of benefit is when mounting wax rubbings, possibly digital images (but tests are inconclusive to date), and this might include some certificates. Photos alone might make this a great product. The only previous heat adhesive that low in temperature was Seal Fotoflat at 150°F. So the temperature issue sounds fantastic!

But you must also take under consideration, that adhesives need to absorb to best hold two mounting layers together. Adhesive saturates into an item by traveling toward the heat source as it heats up, and the longer and hotter in the press the more it absorbs, thus bonds. The only time there is no absorption is when the item being bonded is a coated nonporous, nonabsorbent surface, like an RC photograph. So for photos so far this could be the big answer we have been searching for.

Heat Acivated Times

Now based on my traditional TTPM concepts (time, temperature, pressure, moisture) the next Speed Mount™ issue I want to look at is time. I have declared numerous times that the relationship between time and temperature directly impact longevity when mounting. In order for the time to be low (150°) often it must be made up for the length of time held under pressure in a heat press. It stands to reason that the lower the temperature the longer it will take to heat up all layers of the mounting project to activate and in turn bond a permanent adhesive. I have concluded a few basic tests on this new Bainbridge Speed Mount product and must say the control of orange peel is fantastic, but in order to assure the best long term bond consider increasing the temperature from 150° to 170°, or extending the time within the press.

Consider for a moment that most paper and photos will indeed bond at 150°F when placed into a mechanical press for 15 seconds, and hold quite well, but the same project cannot bond in a vacuum system in the same amount of time. The very nature of a vacuum press has what is called draw time, which is the amount of time it takes (once the press is turned on) for all the air to be drawn out from within the press to apply pressure to the mounting package.

This is not to be confused with dwell time, the time a mounting needs to be held within the press to properly heat up all layers of release material, substrate, adhesive, and item to be activated and fused. Remember the standard time/temperature for vacuum dry mounting most commercial products is 190° for 4 minutes. My advice, check it out for yourself. It's worth a look!

Eliminate Orange Peel and Bonds in 10 Seconds!

While at the Atlanta show I heard about another board (though I did not get a chance to see it) that also boasted of 150°F mounting temperature, and this one was specifically for photos. It was slated to mount an RC photo at 150°F in 10 seconds with no orange peel and no surface damage. But when mounted for 15 seconds a little orange peel might be evident. Let's examine this claim, simply based on mounting facts.

Orange peel is the lumpy surface image created when a photo bonds perfectly to a slightly lumpy substrate of choice (PFM October 2000, "Photo Substrates"). When we mount any item we simply want the image to bond perfectly to the surface leaving no trapped air or unmounted areas. If the board shows no orange peel at 10 seconds, but shows some at 15 seconds, it sounds to me the 10 second bonding has not truly affixed itself to all the highs and lows of that particular board. Even hand applications with a squeegee or rubber roller create some orange peel on most boards under photos, it's the nature of the beast. Granted I have not seen this board, but simply based on the statements I have many questions that remain unanswered. If the board manufacturer is in eye shot of this particular article please contact me with additional information and/or samples for me to further research. I really would love to find out more about this product!

New Adhesive Film

Another new product, again I have only seen this one advertised and have yet to receive my test samples, is a high tack general purpose, pressure-sensitive film called Scapa 4405 from Scapa Tapes North America. It appears to be a more commercial product designed for use with roller applicators in the large scale printing and digital graphic arts markets, but nonetheless it is another p-s adhesive film that deserves mentioning. Unlike Crescent Perfect Mount Film or 3Ms PMA this is an aggressive high tack adhesive rather than a repositionable one with a PVC carrier. It will best be applied to production framers and photo labs.

Still More Digital Discussion

I am referring to the mounting of images that can't be easily identified. I have written about giclees' and their limited edition nature precluding them from being mounted, but other digitals that are cleverly camouflaged as RC photos (digital photos) or offset litho posters (inkjet) still should be carefully handled. If you can't identify it, be very careful about mounting it with heat, and its still often best to avoid spray or wet altogether. Light poundage laser and inkjet papers are thin and can easily cockle with moisture. Glossed color copies originally setting the dry toners by application of inner heated rollers will be damaged by heat during mounting. Best solution in both cases would be pressure-sensitive, or very low heat dry mounting (see NEW PRODUCTS, this article).

Perforated Laminates

Another new derivative, this one in the laminate line, is HUNT Corporation now offering preperforated laminates on rolls. This type of product has been available from Hot Press as their Pre-Pierced Over-Laminate since they were introduced to this country. Bravo to the manufacturers for once again seeing that time is money. I do sincerely hope they both continue to offer their surface vinyl laminates in both pierced and nonpierced varieties though. There remain numerous creative applications using the release liner from these films that are better produced without the tiny perforation holes (PFM September 1997, "Wrinkled Laminates").


Interestingly enough things often come full circle. In fact it is very common in the world of retail for styles, colors, and even crafts to resurface after 10 or 20 years of hibernation. Just consider bell bottom pants, gold and green in home interiors, and candle making. Well once again there has been another crossover though not really new. Classic 18th century decoupage is the art of applying cut paper images to furniture and accessories, then layering it with 30-35 coats of lacquer, sanding smooth and making it appear to have been hand painted.

Thirty years ago this was a very big in the craft market, and by the end of the 70's it had evolved into the more expeditious method of mounting stripped posters to painted boards using acrylic mediums that cleaned up with water and dried quickly.

The concept of plaquing was first introduced to the mass production and framing markets in the early 70's by Drytac Corporation, out of Canada. It utilizes 3/8" MDF boards with routed or beveled, painted edges that have poster images mounted and laminated to their surface. It has been a huge industry in Canada and Europe ever since its introduction, but never really took off in the US (watch for an article on this technique in upcoming months).

Then in Atlanta I noticed that HUNT Corporation has begun teaching plaquing using their tissues and laminates. This technique has always been possible in mounting presses here in the states just never really promoted until now. Funny, an 18th century concept being promoted in the 21st century, what an odyssey.

Continuing Education in Vegas!

Some notable upcoming experiences and wanderings in the future should include the West Coast Art & Frame Show and Conference, 14-17 January 2001 in Las Vegas. Once again the best of industry educators will be there with bells on to help you along your 2001 odyssey. And this year we writers for PFM will also be available during the show in their booth to meet and greet you, and to answer other pondering questions over the things that make you go...hmmmm. I'll be there, will you?

Copyright © 2001 Chris A Paschke

For more articles on mounting basics look under the mounting section in Articles by Subject.
Additional information on all types of mounting is found in:
The Mounting and Laminating Handbook, Second Edition, 2002,
The Mounting And Laminating Handbook, Third Edition, 2008 and
Creative Mounting, Wrapping, And Laminating, 2000 will teach you everything you need to know about getting the most from your dry mount equipment and materials as an innovative frame designer.

All books are available from Designs Ink Publishing through this website.

Chris A Paschke, CPF GCF
Designs Ink
Designs Ink Publishing
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