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Removing photo that's stuck on the glass

Cathy Fitzpatrick , Oct 02, 1998; 04:17 p.m.

My daughter accidentally knocked down a 11 X 17 photograph I had hanging on the wall. The glass broke but there is a big piece of glass that is STUCK to the picture. I don't know why it is stuck. Maybe a spot of moisture or whatever but it's stuck in two or three places.

If I try to remove it, it starts to rip the picture and I need to save the picture.

How can I get the glass off without ripping the picture?


John Q Huang , Oct 02, 1998; 04:57 p.m.

maybe throw the picture/glass into the bath tub filled with water. but then you will need to dry it....put it flat on some rack will work.

Y. Dobon , Oct 02, 1998; 05:56 p.m.

I think I would rather let a professional take care of something like this. Find a good frame shop that specializes in photography and have them take a look at it. Of course, if they are successful, they can frame the photo so this doesn't happen again (using a matte or maybe frame spacers if you don't like mattes).

Philip Greenspun , Oct 03, 1998; 03:08 a.m.

Talk to your local museum restoration department. I'll be that they can help you.

(For future reference, make sure to use an archival 4-ply or 8-ply mat board to keep your framed photos well-separated from the glass; the mat is functional, not decorative.)

Tom Williams , Oct 03, 1998; 06:33 p.m.

just soak it for a while, it'll come off

Gerry Siegel (Honolulu) , Oct 03, 1998; 11:02 p.m.

Phil's advice sounds good. Our Bishop Museum photographic preservationist was helpful in advising me on handling of a 1922 family photo that had been under glass without a mat. It yielded without problem, just luck. And I quickly had a professional copy negative made on 4 by 5 film. It seems reasonable that film which is normally washed in moderate temp bath and dryed can later be rewashed to break loose the emulsion or resin surface from the glass bond, BUT one can't be one hundred percent sure on these things.For future, in addition to matting, maybe spray print with a photo lacquer which I like to think helps to prevent such nuisances. Please let us know the outcome, Cathy.

John Olszewski , Oct 04, 1998; 09:03 p.m.


I had the exact same thing happen to me, although I discovered the stuck picture during a frame change, and not after breakage....

Anyway, since the picture was rather important, I asked several photo labs why this might have happened so I could prevent it in the future. They both told me exactly the same thing, which after I thought about it, was also rather common sensical. They said that the glass probably had some kind chemical residue left on it after production. The residue reacted with the film emulsion after some time, and the picture stuck to the glass. I washed the glass in question in soap and dish detergent, and used it again (with a less important picture!), and the problem did not repeat itself. I also had two friends have the same sticking thing happen, so I made my suggestion to them, and they washed and re-used with no future problems as well.

The moral? If you're not going to mat the picture as mentioned above, clean the glass first....


Larry L. Letzer Sr. -- , Oct 05, 1998; 06:10 p.m.

First, put everything back together especially the image. If you have to tape the back of the photo so the photo is intact. Next have a lab or photographer copy the photo. This can even be done on a large scanner. This way you have an image so reproduction is not as costly as if trying to work from the torn photograph if it tears.

Next, put the photo and glass into some warm water and leave it until the photo slides off the glass. Next time try matting the photo so it does not make contact with the glass.

Cathy Fitzpatrick , Oct 05, 1998; 08:33 p.m.

HI EVERYBODY - It's me, the girl who asked the question. I thank everybody for their suggestions. The ones about dunking the picture in water or other substance worried me. I went to the best photo developing place I knew. The guy told me there was nothing HE knew of that would help me. Perhaps, he said, a framing specialty store might have an idea. However - I felt silly wandering all over the place with this two year old photo. It wasn't like it was a hundred years old. When I got home, I tried breaking up some of the glass that Wasn't stuck on the photo because it was quite jagged and made me nervous having it (even hidden away) with small kids in the house. Well, guess what. The breaking started out to be a good thing and ended with one crack making it even more jagged and splitting the glass the wrong way, in half down the center, whereby the picture bent in the middle and a piece fell off and ripped a piece of the picture. Realizing that the good side of this story was that it wasn't stuck near the kids' faces or bodies, just near the bottom of the picture, I took it all off and will just get an oval matt to block out that area. I think it will be OK. Thanks again for the suggestions. :-)

darren roberts , Jun 06, 2007; 11:55 p.m.

I just took a 40 year old black and white, one of me as a baby from the 1960s, which was stuck to the frame glass, soaked it in warm water for a few minutes, and it came off very nicely. Now it's laying flat with the frame on top of it (no glass) on top of paper towel on a flat surface to ensure it dries flat. Old photos were "cured" in water, so it makes sense it would work. Thanks forum!

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