Wet Mounting

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

Wet Mounting involves the use of a water-based adhesive to bond the artwork to the  mounting board. Although this is the least expensive method of mounting,  requiring minimal investment, it is the most difficult to master. The moisture  in the paste that is used can also affect artwork in such unpredictable ways as  temporarily changing the size, shape, and character of the paper or board to be  mounted. It can permanently affect watercolors, inks, dyes, and the sizing in  the paper or board, and will definitely ruin artwork done with charcoal and/or  pastel. Sometimes, however, wet mounting is the only system that will work for a  particular job, such as in the classical form of water-reversible archival  mounting.

A brief description of the technique involved  will give you a perspective on this kind of mounting. One of the greatest  difficulties is in learning what consis­tency of paste is most workable for you  and will give you the best possible results. Some people like the paste thick so  it can be rubbed in with the ball of the hand. Others like the paste thinner so  that it can be spread with a scrap of board, and still others like it so thin  that it can be brushed on. One thing to remember is that a strong bond can be  accomplished with very little paste, if it is applied correctly. I recommend  that you first try thinning the paste to a consis­tency that is pourable, like a  thick maple syrup.

When you have the desired consistency of paste,  it may then be applied either to the board or to the back of the artwork. Some  artwork that has buckled or is wrinkled may have to be softened by dampening  just before it is mounted. Dampening with an airbrush and water or an atomizer  and water will allow the paper to return somewhat to its original flat shape.  After you have applied the paste, the artwork should be laid over the mount with  the center touching first and the sides held in your hands gently released.  Cover the artwork with a sheet of Kraft paper and flatten it out in a “sunburst”  pattern, working from the center outward. If the paper is thin, hard, and  absorbent, and has not been predam­pened, you may introduce new wrinkles at this  point in mounting. This is where experience counts the most. The mounted artwork  has to be covered with a blotting paper and then weighted down. A thick sheet of  glass is usually used for the weight. The mounted artwork should be allowed to  dry in this manner (changing the blotter paper several times) over a  forty-eight-hour period.

Most wet mountings require countermounting. A  countermount involves mounting a piece of paper similar in weight (most people  use a 40 to 50 lb. Kraft paper) to the opposite side of the mounted piece. This  will reduce the tendency of the mounted piece to warp by the shrinkage of the  artwork upon drying.

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