Float mounting your image

Float mount framing is a technique used by Artists, Framers and Galleries world wide, to especially showcase works where the whole sheet of paper or image may need to be shown. It can make the works appear to ‘float’ against the background they are mounted on.

Handmade and speciality printmaking papers often have a ‘deckled’ edge, this is formed in the manufacturing process and is probably the main reason float mounting was developed.

Artists and Print Makers often plan an artwork based on the whole piece of paper being used and want to showcase the unique deckled edges that show up on handmade speciality art papers. They might also print right to the edges on standard papers and therefore the whole sheet needs to be seen to showcase all of the image

While this framing and mounting technique is used often, it is not without its challenges.

  • Papers – The type of process used to create the paper can mean the paper has a rough texture, they can also be cold or hot pressed. Some are stiffer than others if they have been coated with a sizing chemical or have a high clay content. Because of this some papers will behave very differently to other in how they present in a frame and how they might respond to the methods we use to attach them into the frame
  • Humidity and environment – This can affect the way the paper reacts against the mounting material and may show a mark where the piece is attached. Over time this may fade as the materials stabilise in the frame
  • Relaxing the paper – We aim to give the image time to relax and flatten out on its own so it can sit flat in the frame, sometimes we may need to ‘reverse roll’ the piece to take out excess curl, or we may press the paper between flat weighted materials to encourage it to flatten out. This can take time and while all care is taken, we can never fully guarantee the paper will stay flat, or retain some curl
  • Attachment methods – While we exercise all due care in deciding on the best method to float mount your piece, we also need to take into account conservation best practices, where we aim to make our ‘interventions’ reversible. We also aim to minimise the way our techniques interact with the paper, while still keeping the image securely in place

While there are a number of challenges we have to deal with and try to overcome there are things both you and I can do to minimise some of these challenges.

  • Keep the work flat – if it came rolled up, unroll it and let it naturally unroll on its own, then CAREFULLY roll it flat and place protective paper over it and place evenly distributed weights on it, leave it for a week or two, check it, not yet flat enough? Repeat the process. If necessary you can carefully, loosely reverse roll the paper, leave it for a few days and see how that goes. You can use cling wrap to hold it in its rolled up state
  • Avoid over handling – Creases can be a hassle to remove, over handling increases the risk of creases forming

We hope that helps you to understand the challenges and methods we use to frame your work and ask that if you have any concerns about how your work looks when you come to collect it that you give it time to settle into its new environment, temperature, and humidity matter. After a few weeks it may have settled back into its original flat state and attachment marks may have resided, please be patient… Remember your friendly professional picture framer, wants you to enjoy your piece for many years to come. We hope that our guidelines assist you in planning and enjoying your finished piece.

Regards – Steve Gray –

Picture Framing Specialist


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