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Using glue sticks to mount photos? Other methods?

john beckman , Sep 06, 2000; 11:09 a.m.

I have been mounting my photos in Nielsen and Bainbridge presentation frames. These come complete with pre-cut mattes (8x10, 10x8, 8x8, etc) and a backboard.

To attach the photos to the backboard, I have been smearing the back of the prints with a Tambo (I think) glue stick, recommended to me by a high-end paper store here in New York for a different project (mounting the photos in an album).

The other day I noticed, looking at the print from the side, that it had puffed out a bit (I typically apply the glue stick all around the back of the print, then flip it over and carefully press it down all over against the backboard using a clean paper towel).

Clearly, if it's puffing out, I'm doing something wrong. Just how is one supposed to apply one's print against the backboard? Is there some other type of adhesive that will do the job well but won't soak the print? I thought about two-sided tape, but wouldn't that prevent the picture from laying flat?

I'd appreciate any counsel. Thanks


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Doug Paramore , Sep 06, 2000; 12:08 p.m.

John: The traditional method is dry mounting, but you really need a dry mount press to do it right. I have had good success using a spray adhesive from Scotch called "Super 77". I have never had a print come loose when mounting on mat board, but I have had one come loose when I mounted it on foam core. That was the only one out of many, and I may not have used enough adhesive. The adhesive comes in two kinds, removable and non removable. Use the kind that is non removable. Spray the back of the print, let it set for about 15-to-30 seconds, and put the print in place and roll it with a rubber roller. Make sure the print is in the right place before you put it on the board, because it is impossible to remove without ruining the print. I do outdoor art festivals with my prints, and that adhesive holds in hot sun, freezing rain, you name it. There is also spray adhesive made especially for art work, but I have not had any problems with Super 77 in several years of using it. You can get it at homecenters and craft shops. It is usually cheaper at home centers, about seven or eight dollars for a large can that will do a lot of prints.

Hope this helps,


Michael Culver , Sep 06, 2000; 12:18 p.m.

Try Elmer's Craft Bond Glue Stick (acid free). I've been using it for about a year with no problems.

john beckman , Sep 06, 2000; 12:18 p.m.

Doug -- this spray adhesive doesn't soak the print and ruin it? I think that's what I've been worried about with anything less dry and gummy than the glue stick that I've been using.

Cem Kilicci , Sep 06, 2000; 12:43 p.m.

Use adhesive tack mounting paper. You can get it in art stores where they sell framing/mounting supplies. It runs $3-4 per sheet (~10x14), so it's not the cheapest way, but is a whole lot less messy than spray adhesive, easier to control, and does not smell bad.

Scott Walton , Sep 06, 2000; 12:45 p.m.

John, Dry mounting (hot process) is the best way to go. 3M makes a cold mount that you run through a press to adhere the cold mount adhesive to the print and the backer board. I wouldn't work if your using a "corrugated" back board but on a mount board, it works great. I have used the 77 spray for older portfolio prints and have lasted 20+ years. Fiber papers, well it is best to have them dry (hot mounted) mounted. Cheers

mark Blanchette , Sep 06, 2000; 12:56 p.m.

Greetings. Not to long ago, I did alot of reasearch in this area. I was using double sided framing tape to mount my photos, and the humidity was causing them to bubble and lift. I then tried to hinge them with linen tape, same problem. In all my research, it came down to two options, positional mount adhesive (3M) or dry mounting. After weighing the options, I bought a dry mount press. Dry mounting eliminates burnishing and the possiblity of scratching your print. It also doesn't allow for any air bubbles. Haven't looked back since, and my photos look better than ever. Hope this helps.

john beckman , Sep 06, 2000; 12:59 p.m.

Let me ask a question that occurs to me reading all your counsel (for which I am grateful, thanks): the glue stick allows some give and flexibility -- that is, if my print is not precisely lined up when I lay it down on the backboard, I can move it around until I really press down hard.

Are these other methods -- the 77 adhesive, the tack mounting sheet -- a little forgiving, or is it "once that first bit of your print is down, that's where it is going to STAY"?

Doug Paramore , Sep 06, 2000; 01:02 p.m.

John: I agree with Scott that the best method for fiber papers is dry mounting if you have a press. I have in an emergency dry mounted smaller prints with the wife's electric iron, with the prints and mounts between two pieces of mat board, but it isn't the best method. With double weight fiber paper, I have used the Super 77 and coated both the mat and the back of the print for a stronger mount. I have not found the spray to penetrate the paper with a normal coating, as it is almost dry when it hits the paper if you don't glob it on. To use the double coating, you will need to cut out an opening on a mat board the size of the print and lay that over the mat before spraying. I use dry mounting a lot, but for doing many prints when I am getting ready for a show I like the spray mount.


john beckman , Sep 06, 2000; 01:12 p.m.

I've never seen a dry mount press, but it sounds like a moderately big piece of gear. I live in an NYC apartment, so economy of space is a must.

With respect to the adhesive spray 77: if your print curls at all, don't you run a risk of getting it on the photo side as you spray the rear? Or does one just spray a narrow area towards the center of the print? I guess I'm wondering if I would be able to get away just spraying the back board, then laying down the print on top of it.

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