Mounting Fuji Crystal Archive to matt? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am considering mounting Crystal Archive prints to matt. Can you help me and give me advice on how to proceed and what adhesive is recommended? In an older thread, I read that the 3M PMA (Positionable Mounting Adhesive) might not be the safest product for non-acidic prints. What brand should I use? Thanks!

-- Paul Schilliger (, April 29, 2001


At the moment at least, I don't dry mount Crystal Archive. I use some double stick tranfer stuff from Light Impressions which is archival and removable. It is the type of glue that tranfers itself from a role to the surface on which it is rolled. I put a long line across the top of the matt where the print will be and the bottom corners. It has held 20x25's for several years without letting go.

If you put the overmatt just over the edge of the print it is neater than if you leave 1/4 or so of the undermatt showing. But I do it the latter way because I like the look of the print paper hanging there inside its matts. It is paper after all so seeing the edges of the print's medium suits me.

If I want to dry mount, I use Buffer Mount which is a low temp drymount tissue.

-- John Hennessy (, April 29, 2001.

Paul, we've used alot of PMA over the past 10 yrs. or so for mounting plastic based prints--Cibachromes or RC papers for our exhibits. The only problems I've ever had with PMA have been when it is used for porous--paper based materials such as ink jet prints, or fiber based papers. It's really not made for this sort of application. I've also seen some problems with it in regards to mounting really large prints, there's a tendency for the weight of the print to cause it to sag over time...these are bigger than 20x24 usually. For large prints, and more graphics uses, 3M really considers this to be an "office supply" product, but it does a great job on RC papers, and Cibachromes. Probably it's biggest drawback is it's price...

-- DK Thompson (, April 30, 2001.

if your prints are bound for the fine-art market, there is a "right" way to mount prints for collectors, galleries, etc. generally, the archival requirements for fine-art print display are (1) permanence, and (2) reversability. In other words, you want to use archival mounting supplies that will not damage your print, and you want the end-user to be able to take the print out of its mat and re-mat it in the future (for taste reasons, or if the mat is damaged, or whatever). So, based on those requirements, the first rule is NEVER tape your print to the backing board-- that violates both rules. contrary to what the manufacturers say, there is no existing tape or glue that is archival-- every one of those substances will eventually seep through the paper and damage the image. the only known archival way to permanently mount a print to a mat is to dry-mount it. dry-mounting color prints is questionable because the heat may take decades off the life of the print. the way most fine-art photographers (who know what they're doing) mount their prints is to use archival corners (paper or plastic) that are taped to the backing mat using acid-free archival tape. these permit the print to be slipped into the corners and held there without any kind of adhesive. then the window mat is hinged to the backing mat with acid-free linen tape, so that it can be opened easily (DON'T use that double-sided tape that seals the mat closed). this process seals the print in an archival protective environment but permits the print to be freely removed at any time. all of these products are available at Light Impressions, mercifully inexpensively.


-- chris jordan (, April 30, 2001.

I second Chris' advice - don't mount it at all. The only prints I dry mount are fiber based black and whites. The rest gets hinged and matted. Comes out much flatter and even too!

-- Andreas Carl (, April 30, 2001.

Chris, yeah I do agree with you there on not dry mounting, when I say "exhibits" I'm referring to the other half of my job which is basically working in an exhibt design/construction shop....everything from history museum exhibits & graphics to travelling trade-show type stuff. Now, if you all are talking about "archival" stuff (the other half of my job), then yes you should avoid dry mounting, period. It's interesting how in all other fields of conservation dry mounting is considered to be a big mistake, and yet it is so embraced in fine-art photography. When you say "the only archival way to permanently mount is to dry mount", this is not really true. I think you'd find that a hard argument with most conservators, I know there are several tissues marketed as reversible (by heat) and it is possible to use solvents to remove a print as well, dry mounting is really pretty permanent. Henry Wilhelm had some favorable things to say about 3M PMA though, in regards to c-prints and RC, and Cibachromes in his book though.

-- DK Thompson (, May 01, 2001.

Thanks to all for the valuable inputs. I feel a little more desoriented now but this is certainly because I had a too simple view on the question. To be more specific on what I wanted to do, I have till now used exclusively Ilfochrome that I mount on self-adhesive plates of plastic, or aluminum for larger prints, or for the extra-large prints, have them mounted with silicon on aluminum. I have no idea of how this can affect the longevity of the prints however. Then they are overmatted so that the cuts are hidden.

BUT, some years ago I visited the gallery of a fine photographer I am not going to name to avoid vain polemics. He mounts his Ilfochromes on matt and leaves maybe 1" of space around the cuts before the overmatts. I found the presentation very elegant and wanted to try that method but with Crystal Archive instead of Ilfochrome. Ilfochrome has a polyester base and should be resistant to migrants but I don't know about Fuji's. The prints are fairly large (16x20" and above) so they need to be glued on all the surface otherwise the edges will wave. This is for private amateurs and collectors who don't ask for permanence, but of course a certain guarantee should be offered. Would this be workable? Or if I should abandon the idea of keeping the cuts visible, what is the way to mount large Crystal prints in order to have them flat so that they won't sag and hold strong enough not to move during transport or simply from their own weight with the time? Thanks again!

-- Paul Schilliger (, May 02, 2001.

Okay Paul, I'll try to get back to your original question, I was just trying to chime in my point of view on dry mounting (which from a museum/archive world is never really considered an option at all, for more reasons than the ones listed above)...but as I said, we also do alot of exhibit production here, and deal with mounting c-prints, RC papers, and Cibachromes/Cibatrans etc. as well as inkjets and silkscreening I've had the opportunity to use a wide variety of materials. You have to look at what it is you're mounting in the first place, and what it's end use will be. I think Crystal Archive paper is similar to Fuji SFA papers which are polyester based as well. In Henry Wilhelm's book "Permanence and Care of Color Photographs", he recommends 3M PMA No. 568 for mounting these types of prints. We have used alot, and still do (as I said above) of PMA for our graphics, and photos for years here. Like I said, it's not made for porous materials, but it does a great job with the plastic based materials. It's not good for mounting murals, or prints larger than say, 20x24 or so. It seems no matter how careful you are to get the contact made, the print will bubble up over time (not always but it happens) on the bigger prints. We have used it successfully on materials like Sintra (compressed PVC), gator board, foam core, plexiglass, you name it. Some of these uses are in areas where visitors can touch the photos, and pick at them or deface them, and the prints have survived better than you'd think mounted this way. They claim that you can use PMA to do first-surface mounting (where you mount the front of a print to plex) but I've never found it good for this, it leaves a film over the surface. We had a rep from Scotch here a while back, and when it comes to more heavy duty mounting like to aluminum (alot of places like National Parks etc. do this), they have tougher mounting materials for this. PMA is considered an "office product". You might see a print that has had the corners wrapped around the substrate, a piece of aluminum. It's a very clean mounting job. In the old days when we did murals in house, we would wet mount the fiber based print with wheat paste to a sheet of plywood, and wrap the corners and tack them to the back. It would dry tight as drum. Is it "archival", not at all...but it's use was in an exhibit that may only be up for a few years. You would never permanently mount any original print to anything, even the safest board. For a good overview on conservation matting, both the Library of Congress, and the National Archives have informative websites, as well as Wilhelm's book. Another good one is "The Life of a Photograph", by Dennis Inch and Laurence Keefe (who I believe was a founder of Light Impressions). Another thing to consider would be (if you can afford one) using a vaccum press, like the ones Seal makes. These are pretty expensive, but do a great job mounting Cibachromes. Now for my disclaimer, I am not talking about archival mounting of fine-art fiber prints here....good luck with whatever material you choose.

-- DK Thompson (, May 02, 2001.

DK Thompson, thank you very much for the indications. If PMA could be fully compatible with Crystal, it would probably be the way to go. Maybe I should contact Fujifim too to try get some information on this topic.

-- Paul Schilliger (, May 04, 2001.

Paul, I don't really see why it wouldn't work...I haven't mounted any of the Crystal Archive papers with it, but we've mounted hundreds of c-prints here with PMA. I have a couple of 24x36 c-prints that I mounted for an old exhibit about 5 years or so ago, on gator board. They're still looking pretty good. The thing to think about, is how long the material the print is on is going to last. When something is going to be on continuous display, say in the back of an exhibit case ( we use photos as design elements for our exhibits) we usually go for an Ilfochrome Classic print. If it's a short run exhibit, we may use a combo of c-prints, and Ilfochrome Rapids, maybe even inkjets, since we seem to be doing less silkscreening these days for our graphics. If I were in your position, I would be worrying less about what the PMA is going to do to the print, than what display under light is going to do to it. At any rate, you probably don't want to drymount it. A vacuum press does a great job with large prints, but they are really, really expensive. If you're going to mount the prints and leave some space between the edges and your window mats, be careful when you burnish the print. PMA has a way of oozing out the sides as it's applied. This is no huge deal, as the stuff can be sort of "rolled off" the mount board. But I have had to resort to using PEC-12 on a few occasions to get the residue off the surface of prints. One of the problems with mounting adhesives, dry mount tissues etc. is that there really hasn't been a whole lot of published accelerated aging tests. It is my understanding that there have been some limited testing done by the manufacturers, but the results were never published. If you're interested in mounting materials in relation to the PAT test, I suggest you check out Wilhelm's book. Another good place is the Image Permanence Institute website. They conduct the PAT tests for ANSI, and although you won't find recommendations for materials there, you can learn about the test methods. Good luck.

-- DK Thompson (, May 04, 2001.

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