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Hinging and Adhesives: Choosing the Sticky Stuff for the Job

As artist or photographer, you're not just creating artwork. You're also creating the package, whether the work is prepared for next weekend's street festival or the topnotch presentation expected for juried exhibition.

Displays for special events require a bit more than just knowing how you want your art to look, or striving for the mood you hope will extend to your audience - and shift them into supporters or buyers. Presentation is only natural to the keen artist's eye. For many, artwork origin is born with the frame envisioned: you may already see the ideal framing size, color, shape as you create your ideal work.

But are you equally adept at adapting that vision to the quality of the artwork? Or to the budget of the audience that you want as loyal fans? Are you just as skilled in moving from concept to the fruition that ensures a return on your investment?

Ideally, the display you create:

  • Showcases the artwork and makes a statement about you as the artist or photographer,
  • Compliments the surroundings; the work is also making a statement about its 'steward,' whether it's a museum or the buyer's personal taste and décor.
  • Uses materials and elements that are aligned with artwork quality, purpose and budget.
  • Reflects the appropriate framing techniques--and no technique is more important than how you hinge and surround the work, especially if the work is one that deserves preservation.

It's not enough to know that acid-free materials are good, and museum rag is the best choice for protecting your best work. You also need to know which adhesives to use when preparing the presentation, and how to choose them and use them for the hinging job at hand.

Sticky Point: Masking tape is not hinging tape.

Maybe our grandparents didn't know that masking tape wasn't suitable for long-term preservation,

and they certainly weren't aware of conservation studies as evidenced by the decay of mom's favorite snapshot: 'First day of Kindergarten.' Past generations of parents - and many artists - didn't always deploy good framing techniques. The past didn't offer today's access or range of hinging and art supplies in the current marketplace. Since the right supplies are now readily available, there's just no excuse for masking tape. Ever.

First, what exactly is an art adhesive and what information should you know when choosing from Redimat's range of sprays, tapes and sticks? According to FACTs - Fine Art Care and Treatment Standards -an adhesive is:

Any substance that causes adhesion between two or more bodies or surfaces. Water, non-aqueous solvents, pressure, heat or other agents may activate adhesives. Typical adhesives are animal glues, gelatins, starches, dextrin's, resins, synthetic lattice, caseins, silicates, asphalt compounds, waxes and various thermoplastic materials.

Sticky Point: First - do no harm. Choose the adhesive accordingly.

So your selection in adhesives will consider which type is the most appropriate and recommended for the paper as the platform of the artwork, as well as the surrounding mat and how the art is exposed to the eye, along with environmental conditions.

You'll also want to choose an adhesive that's suited to the composition of mat and art paper, and will also provide the bonding strength needed. Fine papers should be matched to only the finest conservational products, just as heavier works such as large watercolors and photographs require stronger bonding power of sturdier linen adhesives and extra hinges.

Essentially, the first step in hinging assures that all steps are sure and safe. You complete the first step long before you make the hinge. You do no harm if you know exactly what you're doing, and why you're doing it. The product selection confirms step one. It's that simple.

As a guideline for putting this practice to work, consider the most commonly-used tape adhesives and explore a few techniques and purposes of using each.

Lineco® Gummed Paper Hinging Tape is ideal for general hinging and the limited budget.

The tape is comprised of an acid-free, lignin-free, buffered paper that will support most artwork. It's a fast-setting neutral pH adhesive that is also water reversible.

Lineco Gummed Paper Tape is also a popular choice because it offers the preferable archival quality and protection that artists and photographers want and their buyers need.

Lineco® Gummed Linen Hinging Tape is the primary choice for valuable work and top-notch preparation of work done by professional framers. The archival science behind this tape scales to the hinging products used in conservation and preservation. With a 65/55 thread count, this acid-free fabric gives plenty of strength and lays flat. The high tack neutral pH adhesive also sets fast but has proven to be reversible. And reversibility is a key driver in both the selection of hinging products and putting your 'no-harm' knowledge to work.

Sticky Point: Don't create a hinge you can't destroy. The adhesive isn't there to execute a union that's forever joined.

Whether you select paper or linen for hinging, the purpose of the hinge is the same. It's the bridge that links two partners: art and image display. Each partner thrives in the mutual companionship within the frame or display. But separated, each should retain the value that's also independent of the other. So make sure your adhesion is strong and sticky enough -- but just enough. You want to build a long and happy artistic 'union' but one that's easily reversed if the time comes for a 'parting of the ways.'

Sticky Point: Hinging aligns two or more elements into one, and shifts any stress from the paper into the surrounding, supportive framework.

Hinge-building basics: Cut Lineco tape into strips. (Redimat recommends feathered or torn edges to prevent tape 'lines' from embedding in the paper surface.) The strips should be sized in accordance to the width and length of the artwork and no more than 2 inches long or wide. The ideal hinges are consistently spaced and fitted tightly enough to align the work, secure and protect it but still allow expansion, contraction and minimal movement.

You want just as many small hinges as the weight and size require - too many or 'too big' will not only restrict the desired movement but are prohibitive to reversibility. As a best-practice, reinforce hinges; it's the best method for securing art on paper. And do keep in mind that if anything fails, it's preferable that it be the hinge.

T HINGE The all-purpose basic hinge and the most common. Build T hinges when the hinge can be hidden by mat.

V HINGE The V Hinge is invisible, allowing edges of art to show. Note how the V hinge is a reinforced hinge, and is the best method for securing art on paper.


Additional Redimat Resources:

Hinging: The Transition from Artistic Element to Masterpiece

Mastering the Casual Hinge in Seven Simple Steps

Photo Matting with Double-Sided Tape

Sticky Point: Hinges should be weaker than the art paper supported. Hinges are replaceable; works of art are not.

By design, these two archival Lineco adhesives serve the art need now and allow you to redesign art displays for future needs, too.

  • Lineco paper tape gives you a product for casual hinging for the short term and even longtime displays years. It's also an excellent alternative for the quick customization you need to prepare multiple works for temporary display, and versatile enough to do and undo.
  • Lineco linen tape is especially suited for value framing, a wise choice for heavy watercolors, collages, large photos or photo mural displays, posters and museum-quality artwork papers. Though reversible, this product isn't removed as easily as paper tape. But by design, value framing isn't created with quick reversal in mind.
  • Lineco materials adapt to climate changes; your hinges will contract and expand, which ensures protection of the artwork and matting presentation or decorative papers.