Materials Needed

2 Tapes: Do's & Don'ts

The issue of which tapes to use can be quite a prickly subject.  As well as the danger of damage caused by strong adhesives before work is in place, there are also factors of the adhesives used (and residue) which can damage work over time and the ability to leave artwork undamage if you should need to reframe or refit work at a later stage.  Tapes to avoid are the generally available sticky tapes and parcel tapes.  Masking tapes should only be considered useful as part of a process and should not be used to attach artwork or in the construction elements of the project.  By design masking tapes have a low-tack quality and will loose their adhesive chracteristic over time.

In framing, tapes are used in three main ways during framing projects. 

  1. Sealing the frame
  2. Attaching artwork to the mount
  3. Making mounts


 1 Sealing The Frame

The one most people will recognise straight away is the "brown" tape used to seal in the back of the frame.  There are two types of tape used:self adhesive;gummed.

Gummed tape is the traditional paper tape, and the only one suitable for conservation work and museum work, is gummed paper tapes.  Again check that the tape you have selected is appropriate as not all gums and paper qualities will meet conservation standards.  These tapes are easy to use. Dampen the gummed back of a strip of tape cut to length and allow the gum to become activated.  Apply along the backing board / moulding joint.  Smooth into place.  It produces a smooth finish and can be released at a later date by simply moistening the tape.

Self adhesive tape is used to perform the same function and will produce a good finish.  The major drawback is simply that the adhesive quality is quite agressive and may well lift some of the backing board surface should you need to remove it.

2 Attaching Artwork To Mounts

This is often achieved using types of tapes, papers and adhesives.  When you start in framing, the most versatile will be a hinging tape, which again come as  self-adhesive or gummed versions.  In many ways the same considerations apply here as they did in the backing tapes.  While the self-adhesive tape might suggest it has conservation quatlities, these are limited to the the fact that it is PH neutral.  For it to be useful in conservation framing you have to be able to  remove the tape completely from artwork without causing damage.  Only suitable, gummed versions can fulfil that claim.

Varieties of hinging tape available take account of the weight and structure of the artwork being mounted and include:hinging tape (paper); linen tapes; tapestry tapes; tissue tapes.  For more information about these link to our store section:  tapes and adhesives.

For information about attaching artwork to mounts visit our  Handy Hints sheets in the Articles section of the Training Zone.



3 Making Mounts

In this area, self adhesive hinging tape comes into its own.  Because it will not be in direct contact with artwork, the strength of the adhesive combined with ease of use make it particularly useful in making hinge mounts.  

Double sided tape (ATG tape) is used in making double mounts, where keeping one layer of mount attached to another is important.  ATG tape is also useful to create a permanent bond in other elements of construction: attaching foam core to mount board etc.  It should not be used in direct contact with artwork.  Again it is available as a standard product or treated to ensure adhesive is PH neutral (called "conservation" ATG tape).

Masking tape is often used in making double mounts to hold the core of the mount in place as work progresses.  This allows the sheet of board to remain supported as you manoeuvre it throug the cutting process.  When the piece is complete, the tape supports can be peeled away, leaving sections of board which can be used in further double mount projects.


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