Pastel Techniques | Answers for a “Mounting” Problem | Part 2

In last week’s post, the discussion centered on whether it is best to mount pastel paper in advance of wet pastel techniques. If, after evaluating the wetting agents and the paper’s properties mentioned in the post, you decide that your paper should be mounted, your next decision is whether to have it done professionally or to do it yourself.

Neutral pH bookbinding adhesive and Double Tack mounting film

Neutral pH bookbinding adhesive and Double Tack mounting film

DIY Mounting: Most custom framing businesses are capable of various dry- and wet-mounting methods that meet current archival standards. But, due to the expense, many artists choose to do it for themselves. When doing it yourself, your first consideration has to be the archival quality of the products you use: Both the mounting support and the adhesive msut be acid free (pH Neutral) to ensure a painting’s longevity; otherwise; major deterioration can occur.

Recommended Pastel Supports: A support made of 100% cotton rag, or one that’s treated with buffering agents to make it non-acidic, are best. Museum board, rag mat board, and buffered mat board work well and are easily found in your local art/framing supply store. While more rigid supports, such as hardboard and Gatorfoam board may be tempting, they’re not pH Neutral and should be avoided. Remember that the mounting board is not the backing board for framing purposes. An additional support can be placed behind the finished painting to make it more rigid.

Recommended Adhesives for Mounting: Adhesives need to be acid-free; otherwise, they can migrate into the paper, causing discoloration and erosion. Modern advances in acrylic resins have provided excellent products for this purpose. For wet application, Lineco PVA (polyvinyl acetate) adhesive used for bookbinding is one of the best due to its strong flexible bond and excellent lay-flat properties. For dry adhesion, a non-acidic mounting film such as Double Tack made by Grafix is excellent. It comes in various sheet sizes, is easy to cut to size, and simple to adhere. For both wet and dry mounting procedures, I find it easier to apply the adhesive to the backside of the paper and tack it to a mounting board slightly larger than the paper. This makes positioning much simpler and the excess can easily be trimmed. Finally, a nonabsorbent smooth surface is placed on top for weight and left to dry. If curling occurs with a wet-mounting process, a coat of acrylic paint, or PVA, can be applied to the backside of the mounting board to help stretch it back. Caution should be used with spray adhesives. Many are not pH-neutral and most will gas-off for a period of time. This can lead to a film buildup if framed too quickly.

Commercially Available Pre-mounted Surfaces: If the task of mounting your own pastel paper is too daunting, consider using one of the commercially available rigid pastel surfaces such as Ampersand Pastelbord and Multi-Media Pastel Panel. Or, you can make your own by applying pastel ground to a suitable support. Popular surfaces from Richeson, Art Spectrum Colourfix, UArt, and Canson Mi-Teintes are now available on heavier cardstock. Demand has lead Dakota Art Pastels to offer Wallis paper pre-mounted.

Mounting pastel papers may not be the easiest thing for an artist to learn but with a little thought and effort it doesn’t have to be an insurmountable problem, if you will pardon the pun.


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