Got It Taped?
There's an old saying: 'There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad choices of clothing.’ In the same way, there is no such thing as a bad tape, it’s just inappropriate usage. Ok, not quite so snappy, but it does make a point.
Broadly speaking, we use 4 ranges of tapes in framing (click on highlighted areas for more information):
Temporary tapes: here we use a low-tack quality to hold things in place while we support elements of a project until it is complete. This will usually be masking tape. In large mounts, multiple opening mounts, combination mounts (double & triple mounts) we put tabs of tape across cuts (on the back of the mount) we have made to hold the core in place. This means that the cut edge is protected from damage as the work is manoeuvred until all cuts are made. The low-tack nature of the tape means that it can be peeled off easily without damaging the work.
HOWEVER these tapes should not be used for attaching artwork (except budget or temporary pieces) into mounts as they will allow the work to drop, over time. Also the qualities of the adhesive used may cause staining to artwork.
Permanent tapes: these are tapes that have a high-tack adhesive coating, which will hold work firmly on contact. Permanent adhesion might be difficult to prove, but it does mean that pulling stuck-down items apart will cause damage. These tapes are ideal for use in all parts of mount construction (ie layers in double mounts, making a hinged mount and some attachments of artwork).
White, self adhesive paper, hinging tape is the most commonly used tape to attach artwork into a mount system. Also look for other tapes, such as linen tapes and tissue tapes for working with different weights of artwork.
Double sided tapes (ATG tapes) would only be used in heavy duty contacts and only occasionally attaching artwork to a mount board. These attachments are likely to be to the back of a secondary surface onto which the artwork has already been bonded (dry mount, foam core etc) or where the work is sturdy enough (or not of any great value) to take later removal.
All of the tapes are available in a standard quality or conservation standard. Conservation hinging tapes or ATG tapes have been treated to ensure that they are PH neutral. This means that they will not leach out damaging acids into the artwork or mount package.
Brown adhesive tapes (Eco Kraft Tape) are used to ‘tape in’ the backs of frames.
Reversible tapes: these can often be the true conservation tapes. They can be used in direct contact with artwork if they are conservation grade as they can be removed at a later stage. The notion of being able to reverse all actions in the framing process is the essential feature of conservation framing – these tapes will often be described as archival tapes. The white gummed tapes can be used in the same way as the hinging tapes mentioned in the previous section. The gum is activated using a damp cloth. It is important to allow time for the adhesive to 'go off' so that the full effect of the adhesive is active. To remove the tape, simply dampen the back and peel away. This will leave artwork free of tape and therefore in its original form.
Brown, gummed tapes are also available for ‘taping in’; these have been the traditional, 'trade-standard’ for completing a project.
Also note that there are other specialised ‘archival’ systems for attaching artwork, such as hand made paper strips and starch adhesive pastes.
Decorative Tapes: the most obvious use for mount decoration tape is in the making of deep bevel mounts, where the bevelled edges of 5mm foam core strips have a decorative faces provided by these tapes. This is a traditional French mount style (Foam Bisceaux). If you have not already learnt how to do this on a mount cutting course, click on Deep Bevel Mounts and scroll to the relevant Handy Hints sheet.
Sometimes, people will use marbled and coloured tapes to provide a colour strip on the face of the mount rather than using ink lines with a pastel infill.
For more notes about using tapes click the following:
Tapes: Dos and Don’ts
Handy Hints: Mounts (more sheets on alternative attachment styles will follow in June)
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