One of the most rewarding experiences in photography comes from receiving a print order. Here are some recent gems that came in this week that were mounted on sintra and gatorboard. Go to the bottom to learn how to hang photos without a frame and without looking like a complete cheapskate by mounting your work.
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Prints for Habilitat in Oahu
Two 12″ X 18″ prints are being sent to Kaneohe, Hawaii for the 10th Annual Habilitat Luau & Art Benefit. Each year I donate work to Habilitat which is a long term residential drug addiction treatment center on the island of Oahu. This year I asked one of the residents of the program to select an image from my website to be included in the benefit. He excitedly chose this image below of Zach Wormhoudt charging down the face of a wave at Mavericks in Half Moon Bay, CA. This year’s luau will be on May 22nd at Windward Community College.
A traditional way to hang photography is to mount the prints to a hinged 8-ply window mat board under UV glass with a custom frame. This offers the best protection but it is exceptionally expensive. I have been getting photos dry mounted to Sintra (a 3mm thick durable lightweight PVC material) and gatorboard (similar to foam core but much stronger due to the wood pulp fibers). Dry mounting allows artwork to lay completely flat when framed under glass and is almost always required for pieces 11X14 and larger. Once mounted, you can also hang your work without a frame without using clothespins, binder clips, or thumb tacks. Your work does not deserve such injustice.
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How To Go Frameless:
If done correctly frameless photography can look as nice as a framed piece and offer similar protection. You need to do (4) things.
1) Dry mount the photo to a substrate that will not flex. Materials can include: artboard, masonite, metal, plexiglass, and gatorboard, Foam core will not work and will warp over time. There is also a law of physics that states as soon as you mount a photo to foam core you will drop the photo and dent the corners. Don’t do it!
2) Have the artwork UV coated. This also protects the print from moisture, dust, and the color will not self destruct under normal viewing conditions. UV coatings can be either: clear, luster, gloss, or high gloss. These are extremely thin protective sheets that are completely invisible. Friends don’t let other friends emboss textured coatings like linen or canvas onto their photos. Keep it classy and go clear.
3) Place a self-adhesive hanger on the back of the mounting material. These are very strong due to the large surface area, but for larger pieces go with (2) adhesive hangers and a piece of wire.
4) “Float” the mounting material away from the wall. Many framers and labs mount a smaller piece of 1/2 gatorboard behind the dry mounted photo. The easiest solution is to use thick self-adhesive rubber bumpers found on Amazon and Home Depot. Place one at each corner of the print about 4 inches toward the center to hide their appearance.
Additional info and resources:
Unless you don’t mind doing the whole thing over again in a few years because the color has shifted, don’t skip the UV coating in order to save a few dollars. Most labs and some framers can do this for you. The biggest concern for archival properties is from the heat and adhesives used in the dry mounting process. Shop around and ask questions, or do it yourself. To save a few steps take a look at the self-adhesive gatorboards and other materials at www.artsupply.com. Gatorboard is very rigid and will have to be cut by saw. You can do it yourself or job it out to save a few steps.
Here are two recommended and inexpensive online printing labs that offer color controlled printing (ICC profiles), dry mounting, and UV coating:
Get your work outside of the computer and make some prints! Then hang em!
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