Would mounting a print to glass or acrylic be harmful??

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by see_r, Apr 3, 2007.

  1. A comment made in a separate post warrants further exploration. The question
    is whether mounting any print to glass or acrylic would be harmful to the
    print over time. Glass is a highly stable material, which if clean, will not
    leach any compounds that would be harmful to a print. Glass is made mostly of
    silica and is impregnated with metal ions. All of the materials in glass are,
    for the purposes of this discussion, stabilized and nonreactive, and certainly
    won't compramise the archival nature of any print from a chemical reactive
    standpoint. I should think this is the same with at least most acrylics, but
    I'm not quite positive about that. If anyone knows why acrylic would not be an
    archival mounting surface from a chemical reactive standpoint, please explain
    in detail.

    The only way I would think, in theory at least, that glass or acrylic, if used
    for mounting would be harmful would be either by way of thermal expansion, ie.
    due to a large coefficient of thermal expansion (COE), or by way of
    transmittance of UV, light, or other EM radiation. With a high COE, moderate
    changes in temperature could potentially cause contractions and expansions
    that over time would place internal stress on the printed paper (or other
    material) and compramise it's structural integrity. Perhaps something like
    100% cotton museum board escapes this fate because it is not rigid as are
    glass and polymers such as acrylic, and as such does not expand and contract
    on a macroscopic level with changes in temperature and therefore doesn't place
    any stress on the printed material.

    With these things said, if anyone has any evidenced-based thoughts as to why
    glass or acrylic are not archival mounting materials, please describe...thanks!
  2. There are places in the west where anything displayed on glass cannot be considered archival. It seems to attract punks with BB guns.
  3. Glass is certainly archival in the sense that the glass won't do anything to the print. The real problem is the opposite, prints stick to the glass. Both silver gelatin paper and inkjet paper will stick to glass, particularly if the print is thermally cycled or exposed to UV light.

  4. To use an old phrase, "It's not the heat, it's the humidity". That certainly holds true for any fiber based print or gel type coating. Ordinary paper can change dimensions as much as 1/8 inch per foot with humidity. If the backing were rigid, as with glass or acrylic, the paper or coating would have to give, probably causing cracking or peeling. Mount the print on matting board or acid-free foamcore, which are sufficiently flexible to prevent cracking.
  5. Never mind the punks, I am more concerned about the adhesive used for face mounting - I've followed the trend for face mounting onto acrylic. There's also the idea that archival mounts should be reversible (ie the print can be removed) but that doesn't bother me - I'm not claiming that my face mounted prints are archival.
  6. Edward,

    I'm really glad you mentioned humidity...I totally didn't think of that. Acrylic, however, has the advantage over matboard or foamcore (my original mounting material for my pieces) that it can be formed and polished.

    I suppose I could get around the humidity issue with a dessicant.

    Also, I'm wondering in what geographic region you've observed 1/8 inch per foot changes in ordinary paper and I wonder if this would apply to fine art inkjet papers?
  7. Chip,

    Which side of the print is the glass or acrylic going on? If you are face mounting to acrylic - very common these days - the print is sandwiched between the acrylic and mounting board or Sintra or similar. Heat and humidity are not a problem.

    Best, Helen
  8. Chicago - the humidity range is enormous, summer to winter. That figure would be large, but 1/16" cross-grain is not unusual for machine-layed paper like newsprint and label stock. Hand-made paper might be less, since the grain is random
  9. If you want to frame a photo without a mat you can use a spacer to raise the glass away from the photo.

  10. Helen, the print actually went on top of the acrylic. If I front mount then I have a problem with reflections. I really like to use glare reduction glass in front of matte paper.

    Bill, thanks for the warnings about glass.

    Edward, my home town! I am now in California (for 16 years), so there is less humidity to contend with. Still I now think I should be smart to avoid mounting to plexi or making high-maintenance pieces requiring dessicant!
  11. hi,
    both glass and plexiglass are archival and many artists choose to use the Face Mounting; it protects prints from ultraviolet radiation,finger prints, and air-borne pollutants. The one thing with this mounting technique is that it's unreversible..

  12. You can use anti-reflective (coated, not the awful textured stuff) acrylic when face mounting.
  13. jtk


    Plexiglas self-destructs if the edges are polished by heat, tends not to if the edges are polished with a router. You didn't ask about that, but it's well known among furniture designers.

    Are you talking about a commercial exhibit( as opposed to AAAArt)? If so, there's presumably a maintinance contract. I faced this years ago with big Ciba transparencies, mounted with a Scotch spray adhesive (something-77) to plexi columnar exhibits for rear lighting in a dozen Hyatt Regencies. Every six months or so a trans needed to be replaced because of abusive cleaning by the house janitors. Easy, just peel off, remove the adhesive, apply a new trans. Easy replacement is assumed with higher quality museum and commercial display photos. AAAART's another matter.
  14. John,

    Thanks for the info, which is helpful because I do want to construct such that replacement is an option. After all, I am now convinced that my inkjet print mounted on acrylic or other rigid material, if exposed to a lot of variations in humidity, may very well need to be replaced!


  15. "Are you talking about a commercial exhibit( as opposed to AAAArt)...AAAART's another matter."

    Well, you probably should define "AAAAArt." But generally speaking, all photography is art. Even with the most restrictive definitions of both art and photography, much photography is also art.

    And to be sure, unless your exhibits at the Hyatt were of other than a decorative nature, they are surely, by any reasonable definition, to be considered as art.

    But if by AAAArt, you refer to that which is departed from photography, eg. oil paintings, images oversaturated in PS, etc, etc...then no, it is not AAAArt. The image to be displayed is a photograph, taken with a 4 x 5 no less.

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