Hinge Mounting

(Excerpt from ART HARDWARE: The Definitive Guide to  Artists’ Materials, by Steven Saitzyk © 1987)

Hinge Mounting has the function of securing the artwork either to the backing board or  to the mat board without permanently altering the artwork. Hinges should also be  removable with either water or a small amount of alcohol. A hinge should be made  of a stable material with sufficient strength to hold the artwork in place, yet  it should tear free if the picture is dropped. The reasoning behind this is that  it is better for the hinge to tear than for the artwork to tear. The most common  materials used for hinges are Japanese rice papers, archival pressure-sensitive  tapes, and linen tape.

Japanese papers made from the traditional fibers  have been known for their pH neutrality, strength, lightness in weight, and  excellent aging characteristics. Today, however, most Japanese papers are no  longer made from only the bast fiber of kozo, mitsumata, or mulberry. Sulfite  pulp is commonly used as a filler in many of the traditional papers and, in some  instances, the paper is all sulfite pulp. It is therefore important to establish  the content of the Japanese paper when selecting it to use as a hinge for fine  artwork.

One reason the Japanese papers are selected for  making hinges is that when they are hand torn they give a frayed edge. When  attached to the back of art-work, this kind of edge tends to show less on the  front side. The adhesion of the artwork to the hinge is accomplished with the  use of a water-based adhesive, such as the one described below. Careful control  of the amount of paste is important or the moisture may deform the paper, which  will show up as little bumps on the front side of the artwork.

 The following is a recipe for the preparation of  a wheat- or rice-starch paste and the making of a Japanese-paper hinge.


1  level teaspoon deglutinated rice or wheat flour 1/8 cup distilled water, at room  temperature

1.               Mix enough distilled water with  the flour to form a mixture that has the consistency of heavy cream.

2.               Boil the remaining water and add  it to the mixture, stirring constantly.

3.               Heat the mixture, in the top of a  double boiler, stirring constantly until the mixture clears and thickens.

4.               Tear up rice paper made of pure  kozo fiber into the shape of small rectangles (the size depends on the weight of  the artwork and your level of experience).

5.               After the paste has cleared,  thickened, and cooled, apply the paste in a thin coat to the hinge. Allow the  adhesive to penetrate the hinge and dry out slightly. At this point it may be  attached to the artwork, mat, or backing with the aid of a brush or a piece of  card stock.

6.               Immediately after application,  apply pressure or a weight protected by a slip sheet until dry, usually between  30 and 40 minutes.

The illustration above right shows the wrong way to attach artwork to the mat or  backing. This procedure will trap the artwork, and will eventually force the  artwork to develop ripples and buckles. The illustration below right shows the  right way to attach artwork. The figure on the left shows how to attach it to  the mat and the other shows the hinges hidden with the artwork floating on the  backing.

There are two types of hinges. One is the folded hinge and the other is the  pendulum hinge. The illustration bellow shows both types.

Folded Hinge










The folded hinge has the advantage of allowing the artwork to be lifted more  easily to inspect the back. However, folded hinges have the disadvantage of  holding the artwork rigidly at the point of attachment. This can result in a  small but noticeable ripple between the two hinges. I prefer the pendulum hinge.

Although this hinge may make it more difficult to inspect the back of the  artwork (in any case, this is rarely necessary), it does allow the artwork to  hang with less restriction. I feel the pendulum hinge results in a more lasting,  natural appearance.

Whatever material you choose for your hinges, the hinges should be ½- to ¾ inch  wide and in the shape of a T. This T shape, or pendulum hinge, allows the  artwork to breath.


Wrong Method of Attaching







Correct Method of Attaching







The new, archival, pressure-sensitive tapes have the great advantage of easy  application. Since it is a dry transfer, requiring no water for application,  there is no risk of bumps or ripples showing on the front side of the artwork.  The disad­vantage is that most of these tapes are not as easily water-reversible  as the manufacturers would have you believe. The tapes produced under the name  Filmoplast become less reversible as they age, and sometimes require the  assis­tance of alcohol for removal. At this time I feel that this is not a  serious draw-back. Filmoplast comes in three weights. Filmoplast P is the  lightest weight, and is intended for document repair and the lightest of hinging  jobs. It should be lightly burnished after application. Its adhesive strength  improves a few days after application to allow you to correct any errors in  application. Filmoplast P-90 is the medium weight of these tapes and the most  commonly used. It should also be burnished lightly after application even though  this tape has a much higher tactile strength. (In other words, it is stickier.)  Filmoplast SH or SHIRTING is the heaviest. It is composed of a linen carrier and  should be used only when you do not wish the tape to tear or break free. This  tape should also be burnished to activate it.

A  product similar to Filmoplast P is made under the name Archival Aids Document  Repair Tape by Ademco Products in England. This product has a high tactile  strength (much stickier from the outset), and is alcohol-reversible. It is thin  and translucent in appearance. Because of its light weight, its tendency to  become invisible, and its high tactile strength, it works well with delicate  pieces such as artwork on thin rice papers. You should be cautioned, however,  that because of the high tactile strength, repositioning is difficult without  dissolving the adhesive with alcohol.

Lineco Inc. has recently introduced several new  products for archival framing. Among them are an acid-free gummed linen tape, a  self-adhesive (all their self-adhesive products are based on an inert acrylic  adhesive) linen cloth tape, a pressure-sensitive frame-sealing tape, a gummed  sealing tape, a self-adhesive mounting/hinging tissue, and archival mounting  corners. All of these products look promising and will, it is hoped, deserve and  win acceptance.

The illustrations below show two methods of attaching paper artwork to a mat  with backing.

Installing Art into Mat






The illustration on the left shows the artwork  hinged to the backing with the mat folding over the artwork. It is more  difficult to keep the mat registered over the artwork using this style, but it  is safer if the matted artwork will be handled a great deal. The illustration on  the right shows the artwork attached to the mat itself. This method allows  precise registration of the artwork, but more care must be taken. Both styles  have the backing taped to the mat with a linen tape (this is more commonly done  when a piece of artwork is matted but not framed).

The illustration below shows a suggested attachment of a Cibachrome  pho­tographic print to a backing before the mat is placed over it.


Installation of Cibachrome









Cibachromes are notorious for their ability to  expand and contract with the slightest change in temperature and humidity. The  one hinge with four corner envelopes has given the best results of any method I  have used so far. It works especially well on large prints. Lineco Inc. produces  an archival mounting corner made from strips of Mylar® that have been prescored  for folding. The ends have a nonyellowing, pressure-sensitive adhesive, which  fixes the hinge to the backing board.

(Excerpt from ART HARDWARE: The Definitive Guide to  Artists’ Materials, by Steven Saitzyk © 1987)