How to mount a photograph on mat boards, Part two: The Technique

1. Remove the mat from the plastic sleeve and inspect for damage. (nicks, cuts, bumps, dents, etc…) Flip mat over so the side that the print will be mounted on is facing up. Measure and mark ¼ inch out from each side of the mat opening. Line up edges of mat board on the cutting mat grid lines and with your t-square lightly mark the ¼ inch guidelines all the way around each side of the mat opening. This guideline is to help in the placement of your print, It is a good way to see where the print will go visually and allow you to get it centered over the opening. Remember also that no mat opening is ever totally square or centered so use your best judgement when marking these guidelines.


marking guidelines for positioning the image.



Marking the guidelines with a T- square.

2. Dry fit your print within the guidelines to make sure that it is centered and square. You want there to be a ¼ inch overhang of the print and the mat opening.



dry fitting the print to check for accuracy.

3. On the roll of hinging tape measure and cut 16 pieces about ¼ inch in size lengthwise. You want to pieces of the tape per hinge and two hinges per side. In the research that I have done all the advice says to not cut the hinging tape but to wet and tear each piece. The torn edges can be smoothed out and supposedly you get better adhesion to the print and mat. You can do this either way but I have done both and never noticed a difference between the two, I always cut mine in the interest of saving time. I have done many images by cutting the hinging tape and have never had a problem with the tape coming lose or the print popping off of the mat.



marked out strips of hinging tape.

4. Place print in the guidelines and set into its final position. Line up the pieces of hinging tape into two piles of eight pieces each with some space between each piece. When you start wetting the pieces you will get a small amount of glue on your hands and the pieces are small enough that they can be hard to manage. The space between each piece is to prevent them from sticking to each other while you work.



the cut pieces of hinging tape for the print.

5. Wet only eight pieces at a time with the small paintbrush dipped in water. It is crucial to not put too much water on the hinging tape as it will become to saturated and will not stick well. Frustration will follow at this point, Put just enough water on the tape to activate the glue and then wait a few seconds for the water to begin to dry and for the glue to become tacky. It is always a good idea to practice this first a few times, Depending on the humidity levels the water can dry too fast which you don’t want either. Working with one piece at a time, You want to make a “t” shape with the two pieces. The top of the “t” should be on the mat board while the bottom of the “t”  should be attached to the print. You should have two of these hinges per side. Once you have used all eight pieces continue on with the last eight pieces and the other two sides of the print. Noy some may be inclined to just cut one long strip for each side instead of the smaller ones…Don’t do this…ever. The reason for the small hinges is two-fold. One is to hide the hinge behind the artwork but the other is that the print and the hinges will expand and contract as the humidity levels change. The small hinges will allow this without warping or buckling the print as one long continuous strip would do, ruining the print. I have done the long strip as a foolish rookie and what happens is that the print will eventually pull away from the mat, The hinging tape just will not stick. You have been warned.



Applying water to the hinging tape.



the mounted and hinged print.

6. Let the hinging tape dry for a few minutes and then flip over the mat so that the image is facing up towards you. With a spare or scrap piece of paper and an exacto knife, measure and cut out a long rectangle 1/8 to ¼ inch in height and as long as the sheet of paper. My handwriting is terrible so I use this as a simple guide when I am signing the print. I think it just adds a little polish to the entire package.



A cheap and easy way to get your signature straight and even.

7. Center the signing guide on whatever side will be the bottom of your print , Slightly below the mat opening. I am not a huge fan of giving each image some sort of “name” so I simple put the location and then sign and date with the year I mounted the image.



The signed print!

8. At this point you can now use the canned air to blow off any dust or contaminants from the front and back of the image.



Dust removal.

9. Place business card or thank you note inside the plastic sleeve with the mounted print and seal the package.



Putting my business cards inside the print package.

10. There you have it… A signed and sealed print ready for sale or delivery to your customer in a neat and professional package.

The mad photographer!