Step 8: Mounting the Artwork

Attaching the Matting to the Mounting Board

To ensure that things line up for the rest of the project, you should attach the matting boards to the mounting board at this point. Take the face and back matting (which you taped together in the previous step) and lay them on top of the mounting board. Line up the edges as best you can. If they don’t line up perfectly, that’s fine, we’ll trim them later. Once you’ve checked the fit, lift the matting boards off, take a 6-inch strip of acid-free linen tape (I bought mine at a custom framing supply store; it looks like masking tape, but is white, and thicker) and tape it along the top edge of the mounting board lengthwise, face down. Allow half of the strip to hang over the top edge of the mounting board.

Matting hinged to the mounting board
Now lay the matting face-down above the mounting board and line up the top edge. I use a couple pieces of scrap matting underneath to raise the matting up to the same height as the mounting board (since the mounting board is thicker). When the top edge is lined up, press the tape down onto the back of the matting. The end result is that the matting boards should now be “hinged” to the mounting board along the top edge, such that you can lift up the matting boards like you would lift the hood of a car.
Positioning the Artwork

Now, you need to determine exactly where the artwork will be mounted. Close the matting onto the mounting board and line up the edges so that the window is approximately where it will be for the finished product. Take a pencil and make small marks on the mountboard in each corner of the window of the matting (being careful not to mark the actual beveled edge of the matting). Lift the matting up, and connect the marks with a pencil (using a ruler). Extend the lines past the actual corners on each end of your lines. You’ll use these lines to determine the placement of the artwork.
Attaching the Artwork

If you aren’t concerned with preserving the piece, then you can just use a 2-inch strip of tape and secure the top edge of the artwork to the mounting board. However, given that everything else we’ve done has been to archival-quality, and what you’re framing will probably end up hanging on the wall for far longer than you expect, I highly recommend that you use archival-quality practices for the mounting. It’s a little more work, but it will ensure that the artwork is preserved for a very long time, and will allow you to reverse the framing process without damaging the artwork.

The “professional” way to mount artwork is to use something called “Japanese paper hinges.” Essentially, these are just strips of thin paper that have been secured to both the mounting board and the artwork using acid-free, water-soluable, reversable natural glue paste in such a way as to create a “hinge” that allows the artwork to expand and contract with temperature and humidity variations. They come in sheets, and if you do a Google search for “Japanese Paper Hinge,” you should come up with all kinds of information. I decided against using it partly because preparing the glue sounds like a lot of work, and partly because I couldn’t find where to buy the paper in my area.
Instead, I use a product called “Filmoplast P91” which I bought from my local custom framing shop. It is very similar in appearance to masking tape, but is acid-free (that is, archival-safe), and will release from the artwork without leaving a residue. The way you use this product is you put a strip of it on the back of the artwork, then you use regular acid-free double-sided tape to attach the artwork to the mounting board, with the double-sided tape attaching to the back of the Filmoplast. The Filmoplast acts as a barrier between the harmful double-sided tape (which would leave a residue on your artwork or tear it when you try to remove it) and the work being mounted.

Filmoplast P91
Unfortunately, I suspect that this product isn’t available everywhere, so you may need to either try the Japanese paper hinges, or ask your local custom framing shop what they use for mounting. They probably use either the Japanese hinges, or a product similar to the Filmoplast I described.
To mount the artwork using the Filmoplast, take a short strip of Filmoplast and attach it to the top edge of the backside of the artwork. Then attach a strip of (archival-safe) double-sided tape to the Filmoplast. Remove the backing from the double-sided tape. Note that I’m only securing one edge (the top) to the mounting board. The remaining 3 edges are left free to move, so they can expand and contract with changes in temperature and moisture.

Mounting with Filmoplast and double-sided tape

Positioning the artwork
Place the artwork face-up on the mounting board (lightly; don’t let the tape start to stick yet), and position the artwork using the lines you drew earlier. The corners should overlap the lines an equal amount in all for corners. When you have it positioned just right, press down on the top edge over the tape to affix the artwork to the mounting board.
Close the matting and line up the window in the matting with the artwork as desired. Here’s what my diploma package looked like after mounting and matting, before I put everything into the frame.

Finished mounting and matting
I embellished my matting a little bit. Note the thin white box in the blue face mat. This is a v-shaped channel that I cut into the face mat using a special tool called a “V-Groover.” This is a somewhat expensive (about $130), specialised tool that uses two blades to cut a groove into the matting, exposing the white core. The cuts don’t penetrate through to the other side of the matting. This step isn’t really necessary, but I like to do it to give framing jobs that extra “pop.” It produces very professional-looking results and really sets off the work visually.

The diagram to the right illustrates the makeup of a V-groove. You can get pretty fancy with this design element, but be careful not to overdo it. The matting and framing shouldn’t be the focus of attention – the artwork is.

Cutting a V-Groove into the face mat

V-Groove cross-section