Designs Ink Publishing Article Archive and Research Library
Chris A. Paschke, CPF GCF
"Conservation and Lamination…Mounting Trends for 1994"
When considering the mounting trends of 1994 we need to take a look at two real extremes, the development and continued promotion of the conservation issue, as it relates to mounting and the ever growing use of laminating films in our industry. Though heat set laminating films have been around for the past ten years they are really beginning to come into their own both as a glass substitute and creative profit maker. Extreme opposites yes, but if indeed opposites attract then there must be a need for both of the extremes in our progressive industry, conservation and lamination.
In order to put things into proper perspective I must say as an upper end framer I am thrilled with the continued concern within our industry over the conservation issue and its proper hinging and mounting methods. Even beyond 1994, it most likely will continue to be an extremely strong developmental and marketing trend at least throughout the remainder of this decade.
"Conservation" illustrates our respect and need for preserving the past both personal and historic, promotes our state-of-the-art products and materials, and establishes our specialized niche as framing craftsmen and professionals. Developments and marketing trends are always required to maintain any technologically aggressive and competitive industry, especially one which remains dominantly "retail". Product development within the vein of mounting often does not relate directly to the conservation issue, but the division line is often really very fine. When to mount? and when to hinge?
THE OTHER MARKET
My column is generally concerned with the physical activity mounting as gluing or affixing (wet, dry, spray, pressure sensitive) a print or photo to a backing board or substrate of choice...sometimes permanent, sometimes removable but never considered "conservation". Along with the actively strong move or trend towards increased conservation or preservation in framing, we must still realize there remains a substantial market for the everyday items which frame-up much better when mounted including posters, prints, fabrics, some photos and most short term projects.
I've mentioned in previous articles before "not to throw the baby out with the bath water", meaning the industry must maintain adhesive mountings as well as conservation practices, for production mounting and laminating still comprise a large portion of the professional framing jobs in our industry. And quite honestly, any time profit potential is present there should be a retailer prepared to serve the customers' needs. Besides considering a conservation presentation for a $10.00 24"x36" poster slated for hanging in the bathroom would be ludicrous.
THE JUDGEMENT CALL
With the continuing trend in `94 for long term conservation practices and permanence through use of stable materials and museum standards, what do you do when a client brings in a vellum or parchment diploma that they are convinced they want dry mounted? If we determine it truly should be conservation/preservation framed, using all of the appropriate reversible procedures, approved hinges and UV glazing, and upon your full conservation "pitch" the client remains steadfast, a decision must then be made by you.
The judgment call we make as professional framers concerning "to mount or not to mount" can be difficult at times. Often we realize an item should not be mounted yet the client dogmatically insists on a glued down project by demanding "no wrinkles, warps or buckles must ever appear" you may have the difficult decision of either compromising your standards or losing the job. I have been in situations where "the customer is always right" is really not the issue, for as the professional, your client has chosen to trust you with their special treasure and it is indeed your responsibility to guide them along the right path.
There are right and wrong ways to approach almost any mounting job and this scenario is no different. In response to the above issue, an animal skin should not really be mounted, for it is the nature of the beast to have gentle cockling and warping from variations in temperature and humidity. The conservation approach should not be compromised once committed to, but sometimes if stringent conservation procedures are not being used the question simply comes down to...if I do decide to mount it, will it mount safely?
BUT...WILL IT MOUNT SAFELY?
Good question! I think it's far better to preserve the integrity of our profession and admit to you customer your ability to do all you can to achieve the best possible mounting, but clients should always realize if something goes awry it was not malicious and it may have been totally out of your hands.
I don't mean risking irreparable damage out of ignorance or negligence, but Murphy's Law does occur and either by accident or careless operator error sometimes a mounting may become a disaster. Now taken out of context the proceeding statement may sound rather irresponsible, but the concept is quite sound and merely means never to attempt to mount anything which common sense tells you won't survive the heat, or moisture or both. Testing is imperative in unfamiliar mountings regardless of the methods used, for end results should always be predictable!
A good example would be attempting to dry mount a thermographic (heat sensitive) ticket stub which would turn black when reexposed to heat during a dry mounting process, or laminating a thermographic wedding invitation which would indeed melt. Obviously, always find an alternative and/or appropriate mounting method in the first place compatible with the item to be framed. Also remember, a mounting alternative could mean conservation hinging too.
Most customers assume, even if only subconsciously, all of their art will be covered by the framer's insurance whether it be cut, drowned or fried. In fact most framers believe that too! Jeff Price, CPF owner of Artist's Market, Norwalk, Connecticut a very successful upper end gallery and frame shop, told me of his basic mounting and framing policies which always include written and signed disclaimers along with a full explanation of customer risk.
Jeff is a firm believer in being up front with his clients even if that means demonstrating or pointing out potential problems or sensitivities. If dealing with my hypothetical afore mentioned client and her adamant desire to mount the parchment document to "keep it flat", he likens the non-guaranteed mounting procedure to that of a doctor. "Prior to entering a hospital for even a `simple and routine' operation the patient must sign a disclaimer stating `even if I die the doctor is not at fault'. We are indeed the `doctors of pictures' says Jeff, and I will handle and mount this artwork the very best way I can as you are requesting, but it truly is not my liability or responsibility if something happens."
Clients often begin to realize that judgments and estimates concerning framing procedures are educated guesses by the framer and until the process has actually been attempted there may always be a margin of risk. Mistakes can still occur and customers seem to more readily accept the unknown of dealing with any unique framing situation once the risks have been pointed out. Disclaimers are a good way of stressing the magnitude of a given point, whether it be why conservation procedures should be implemented or simply that we don't always know how the parchment diploma will react to the heat, even after testing.
YEAR AT A GLANCE
It appears that mounting trends for `94 definitely continue to involve greater need for education and an understanding of materials and artwork. As technology advances color copiers, laser printers, photo developers and artist medias advance at a rate much faster than manufacturers and educators can keep up with. Therefore FRAMER BEWARE, the print or copy you attempt to mount may be heat sensitive...remember your disclaimers.
Conservation, mounting and disclaimers aside, the expanded use of laminating films this year will continue. So don't forget or hesitate the profits available in your heat press when it comes to laminating. Our fast-paced, disposable life-style of the 90s not only wants to cuddle our memories of the past with conservation keepsakes, but we continue to see clients wishing for quick, inexpensive ways to showcase their souvenir poster from Boulder, Colorado or decorate their dorm room. Laminating is a natural...use it!
All in all mastering mounting this year may require you to look more seriously into conservation hinging methods, the basics of laminating, covering your buns by disclaimers and expansion of profit potential through mounting and laminating creativity. All of this is quite attainable through continuing education, yet another strong trend for this year, and monthly reading of PFM, of course.
Happy New Year!
For more articles on mounting basics look under the mounting section in Articles by Subject.
Additional information on all types of mounting and creative applications in:
The Mounting and Laminating Handbook, Second Edition, 2002,
The Mounting And Laminating Handbook, Third Edition, 2008,
Creative Mounting, Wrapping and Laminating, 1999.
Chris Paschke, CPF GCF
Tehachapi, CA 93561