Framing Diplomas

Whoever is out of his / her mind.... ;)

It is not like they could be replaced on a daily basis! And, beyond that, sometimes the material may not be fit for dry-mounting to begin with.
Hey Paul-We do unless asked otherwise

Most folks are looking for pretty basic stuff; many in ready mades

On occassion, client has reservations and we make a color copy and have them store the original for safe keeping. Just not many of them

For what it is worth, a client did get a replacement from Az State and it took about two weeks and cost was about $25. She hated the Governor that was in office then and was pleased that the replacement had the current Gov
The diplomas we have come in are done in mats and hinged to the backing board. I've redone some that maybe would have been as well off if they had been mounted.

Welcome to the grumble.
90% are speedmounted with us, the rest are photo cornered so the person can take out if needed.

Most will never want it out of the frame and as Bob said, most can be replaced pretty easily.
I do too, if they would look better, some are pretty warped. But with the customer's okay. Informed consent, and all that.
But not dry-mounted if they're on vellum, or have a foil seal on it (don't ask me how I know that.) If vellum, what Bob said about making a copy and framing that, vellum can be pretty warped too.
My average ticket for a post graduate certificate is in the $150 - 200 price range. I treat any diploma as the only physical evidence of having spent upwards of $40,000 to $60,000 for their higher education and, as such, are usually mounted in a nice mahogany veneer frame with double matting, sometimes in the school colors, and either hinge mounting or in mylar corners. As most of these are either hung in the person's office in full view of everyone who enters or in their home in a prominent place, I want it to look a little bit better than readymade document frame level framing.

I also include 6 copies of the certificate in case they are needed for job resumes or such. It is a courtesy for the customer and costs me very little to make 6 copies for them.

Welcome to the Grumble, Wendy and June. If you are satisfied with the quality of your work being compared to readymade document frames then I would suggest that you go that route. For me, I am proud of my work and try to show the nicest presentation I can for each of my customers. When I show them how important that single sheet of information is to their education and their career, they are almost always interested in displaying their diploma with the pride that it deserves.

I suggest that you always show your customer the very best first. If you haven't prequalified them to price range for what they want, you can always come down to a lower quality if they prefer something less expensive but, if you start out cheap, you will have a much more difficult time upselling.

Just my personal opinion on how I would handle the situation.

Unless things have changed lately, many diplomas are thermographed (fake engraving) and heat sensitive.

They probably tolerate low temperatures, but many years ago I melted one in a poorly calibrated press. It was not cheap, fast or convenient to replace.
drymounting a diploma is only a last resort in my shop. I look at it as an important document that took a lot of time and money to receive. If it is an absoute must, and not until an education has been given to the customer, then I will. But I prefer to use Artcare Restore when I do.

But do remember, and welcome to the G., you will receive a wide range of opinions here. That is the beauty of having so many professional framers at your fingertips. Take what works for you, and leave the rest.

Welcome agin and hope to see you on here more!
I dry mount a diploma ONLY if the customer INSISTS. Normal practice is japanese paper and Nori paste. I'm with Framerguy on this one.

I see no reason not to treat it as well as any document that deserves preservation. Recently framed a woman's grandfather's diploma. Shouldn't we treat each document as if the persons grand children will want it displayed?

For those of you that dry mount ... Can I ask why? Do you consider it cheaper? faster?
Just last week we had a new orthopedic surgeon in town come in with nine diplomas and certifications that all needed to be reframed. Seven of the nine had been previously framed by a professional custom framer and all had been drymounted, no mats with no spacers, and then sealed with packing tape. All I will say is that it was a nightmare to get the job done. The damaged that had been caused by the packing tape to the edge of the diplomas, the tiny moisture spots, the ‘crushed’ areas from the framers point being excessively tight in the back all equaled a product that I was not 100% please to hand back to the customer.

We will use Artcare as the last resort, but otherwise it’s a hinge. I don’t care if it is easily replaceable, the “meaning” of the paper to the customer is the value of the piece and even if they don’t care, we do.
Originally posted by Cliff Wilson:

For those of you that dry mount ... Can I ask why? Do you consider it cheaper? faster?
Not to start a war, but I'm curious as well.
AAAKKKK! I would ONLY drymount a diploma or any other important document for that matter if it was so horribly wrinkled or damaged that it really needed it. And that is so rare that drymounting almost never happens.

I am a hugefan of framing documents and certificates, they are so pretty and so important. I always pull out a triple mat design. including a small black line somewhere, or a fillet.

Recently a customer came in with a certificate presented to his grandfather in 1941 when he was honored as a master mason. It was beautiful and in impeccable condition. I was so impressed and so excited but all he wanted was a cheap poster frame. He was going to hang itin his basement and didn't care. He wouldn't even spring for uv glass! I was so upset, he should have givien it to another grandchild who would appreciate the certificate and his grandfather's accomplishments.
I think diplomas get drymounted sometimes because they are rolled like a steel spring or otherwise abused.
Is it cheaper, yes...Is it faster, yes.

We give the option to most and most really don't care. Doctors, Nurses, Lawyers, and Teachers tend to be the people who want to make sure that the diploma can be taken out at any gien time. They tend to think that someone is going to want to see the actual thing and not a copy.

I understand that a diploma or any other certificate of accomplishment is something that is something to be proud of but let's face it, most who get them don't want to put the money into that. A majority of the diplomas given out in this country are sitting n a drawer somewhere. (not a proven fact just my opinion)

When someone does get one framed then they obviously are proud of the accomplishment and will display it for eeryone to see. It is our job to give them the options and let them decide. Sure the cost of drymounting vs any form of conservation mount is always less expensive and that will stick in a person's mind but, the response I hear most often is "You can mount it, I'm never going to take it out anyway" That being said, our average diploma framing job runs between $125-$150 with many over the $200 range so people are not just looking for the cheapest option.

Now if it is vellum, sheepskin, or anything that looks like it may be damaged by heat, drymounting is not an option, mylar corners only. We use speedmount for most diplomas since it is only in the press for 7-10 seconds.
Originally posted by imaluma:
Hey framerguy, you ever scan the document for your customer and give them a disk?
I hadn't given that one any thought, excellant idea!! I liked to surprise the customer with the copies in a brown manila envelope marked with the contents and date on a shipping label with my shop's logo on it. I'd just hand it to them and say something like, "With my compliments and a small thank you for bringing your framing business to me." They never think about needing that document or copies of such later on so it is very impressive to most customers that you went the extra step to provide them with those copies.

The other thing I offer to do is attach the envelope with copies to the dust cover of the framing if they don't think they will keep track of them. It makes sense to most and takes a minute to do.

FG I think copies tend to be better. Who knows when the disks will be out of fashion? It could be overnight. Maybe both, the copies and disk?

We generally use edge mounts or linen hinges for important documents. If the customer is interested in the best preservation, we will use Japanese paper and Nori paste, but those jobs are relatively few.

Preservation is not the only issue here. Removable, less-invasive mounting is, according to my own time studies in my own shop, usually quicker and less expensive than permanent mounting.

Note that it takes about 15 minutes to make a 3-month supply of edge strips from Melinex leftovers and strips of 3M #889 tape. We make our own corner pockets, too, but rarely use them.

We would permanently mount only if the document were in poor condition, such as tightly rolled, creased, or torn. A permanent mount is used for probably less than 20% of our diploma jobs. But when a permanent mount is appropriate, we prefer to wet mount under vacuum, because:

1. The materials + labor to wet mount totals less than half the cost of dry mounting.

2. Wet mounting is more permanent and will not deteriorate over time, as most dry mounts will.

3. Wet mounting is easier to do well -- just roll some paste onto the mount board, lay on the document and a cover leaf or paper, and stick it in the press for 3 minutes. The procedure is simple and nearly foolproof.

4. Dry mounting requires careful attention to hot dwell time, cooling time under weight, temperature, pressure, and moisture -- certainly not foolproof. That preparation is not only more time consuming, but also less dependable.

5. Wet mounting requires no heat, which could be damaging if the document is thermo-engraved or otherwise heat-sensitive.

My guess is that about half of the dry mounts done these days are defective, due to some deficiency in controlling TTPM. Trouble is, such defects might not show up for months or years. But a the dry mount fails, it is often a problem to fix. A big bubble in the middle, for example, is not uncommon.

I'm not saying dry mounting is wrong. Au contraire, it is quite a good method for some things, but it is important to do it right.

Too many framers take shortcuts that defeat the dry mount later -- too little dwell time, or failing to pre-dry, or failing to cool under weight, for example.

Chris Paschke may never forgive me, but Ive done it myself without thinking of the consequences. In a busy shop it's just too easy to be distracted and forget an important step in the dry mounting process.
No drymounts. Hinge only. Always show 4" suede mats, fillets and mahogany/cherry/walnut burls.

Best designs first, then go down from there if needs be
To clarify my position on drymounting, I don't default to that. I PREFER hinging or mylar corners too. But sometimes they come in so battered or rolled and rippled and just look awful. And I'm not talking about Grampa's 85-yr-old diploma, either.

Diplomas come on a miriad of surfaces. If they're not vellum, or foil sealed, or heat-sensitive print and they're lumpy and ripply, drymounting is an option. I didn't say I always do. But I won't say I NEVER do, either.

Framerguy, what a great idea about making copies! I'm not even sure where my diploma is, should I ever need it again, and that would've helped in past years. Small service, big gesture. I like it.
We do both as well...just wondered what the majority did. Thanks for all your input!! Have a great week!
Diplomas are usually not replaceable! Sure, you can send 25 bucks and get a new one - but you haven't replaced the original. I recently had a diploma that was important to me destroyed. I sent for a new diploma. The school has a new logo and has changed the diplomas completely. And of course none of the signatures are the same as on my original diploma. It's nothing like the original and meaningless to me - I won't even bother to frame it.
If it is "wound like a spring", we urge that they get a new one. Mounting is a last resort.

Mulberry (Kozo) and nori, with Lineco side and bottom mounts. No exceptions.

A cheap bachlors is now $30k, and a law or doc will go over $250K. A surgeon has a $400+k investment in that paper.

As for a replacement... no. It is not the same.. the signitures are not of those that usually were on the original.

I would never want to have to replace my bachlors... the Chancelor was the greatest and a personal friend and now passed away. The head of my school of disapline was a Nobel Peace recipient and personal friend, also now long gone. The school went from an intimate 15,800 to a factory of 67,000.... no. I don't want a replacement thank you very muck.
I had a guy come into my shop recently, looked to be late 20s, asking if I could shellac or laminate his diploma onto a wood block. I told him no, and explained why, and showed him my properly-mounted and framed diploma. It turns out the diploma he wanted shellacked was his medical school degree. He didn't have it with him that day, and he hasn't come back. It breaks my heart to think that he's spent all that money and worked so hard to earn that document, and that he's going to have it shellacked to a piece of wood.
It breaks my heart to think that he's spent all that money and worked so hard to earn that document, and that he's going to have it shellacked to a piece of wood.

Sadly, a doctorate of medicine doesn't necessarily confer even a half ounce of common sense with the award.

Most of the current diplomas I get to frame have an embossed seal of the college in them, occasionally a foil seal with ribbon, or some other feature that would preclude dry mounting.

Just got through with 3 Naval officer commission certificates. The oldest was signed by T.Roosevelt, the second by Taft, and the third by Wilson along with the signature of then Secretary of the Navy FDR. On vellum rolled up loosely since the teens. Dry mount? Nah, those lines and ripples give them character.

Seriously, I did recommend conservation treatment, but framing was all they could do for now. They are in really good condition for the age.

Like everything else, I guess it depends on what the customer wants. I was in a friend's house the other day and he had oak frames around his plaque mounted diplomas...something for everybody.
I would NEVER recommend this to anyone - least of all my friends on The Grumble.

But I have heard that, if you absolutely HAVE to dry mount a certificate that has a foil seal on it, overlaying the certificate with that blue fome that Seal sells (or whoever Seal is these days) will minimize the flattening of the seal.

Please note, I said MINIMIZE not ELIMINATE.

And you didn't hear this from me.
A piece of clean, smooth mat board a little bigger than the diploma. Cut a circle out of the board just bigger than the seal and in the right position. Place this board on top of the release paper. Then mount using light pressure and a little extra time to get the heat through this protective mat board. If you use too much pressure the circle may be pressed in and show. Like any technique test first not on the real diploma.

This technique has been used many times in our shop but not for serious diplomas - they get conservation mounts every time.
I'm curious...what would a non-serious diploma be?
Paul N,...........I can too!
Graduation from clowning college?
I was leaving for college and there was a clown college in my town...I almost signed up. Gosh life could have been different. I would have been just as poor, but atleast I would have traveled.

Another non-serious diploma would be the one I got as a K-Mart Blue Light Special. I have one in medicine. My law degree I got from watching all the episodes of LA Law...
I was recommending the fome (while not really recommending it) for Vacuseal presses and similar, where "light pressure" is not possible unless you have a vacuum leak.
My husband has a diploma, framed, from a theater production in which he played Dr. Conrad Berring, OBGYNA.
(stands for "ohboygotyanakedagain") :rolleyes:
Back when I didn't know any better, I used to dry mount Diplomas. Then I got smart. They spend a lot of money earning that diploma, it deserves better treatment. Hinges, photo corners or sills, depending on how curled they are. Sometimes a combination of them.

You can't allow your customer tell you how to mount the art. If you let them do that, then they are the expert, not you. Is their diploma in Custom Framing? NO. If it were, they would be the one framing it.

I keep seeing people saying that their customers don't care how they are framed. That might be true, but you don't have to give them an option that might harm their art. My experiance was, if I told them that there were options on mounting their diploma, they thought that the result was the same for all of them.

If the customer wants a tightly rolled diploma to be flat, you need to inform them that paper has a shape memory, and that it now wants to be rolled. There are techniques that can be imployed to soften the roll, but unless they want to possibly damage their diploma, it will never be completely flat.
Like Jerry said...what's the problem with using ArtCare Restore? Seems to me it is perfect for mounting diplomas. I do it all the time if it's just on parchment paper or vellum without a seal.

Pre-dry...30 seconds...(I use a release board, not paper) at about 160 degrees...weight evenly and have experienced no problems.

I have experimented with "clown diplomas" with embossed foils seals and have had no problems there either, but I am reluctant to try it with irreplaceable originals.

Dave Makielski
You know, I've been thinking about this... and so I have been asking a lot of people....

That "rolled tight as a spring" thing must be a mid-upper-west thingy. Nobody I asked had ever seen a AA or better "rolled".

In a beat-up battered dusty kicked around in the back of the drawer? Yes.
With a coffe ring? Yes.
Rolled? No.

And Sue brings up a very good point: "I keep seeing people saying that their customers don't care how they are framed."

I don't care how my surgeon does the surgery [open me up or orthoscope] I just want it done right, so that I recover and feel good.

If you mount that sucker and it ever needs to be taken off the board or replaced.... neither one, they or you, are going to feel good.
A non serious diploma is the one printed on pink paper with a laser printer and having a metalic green seal awarded for some trivial thing as opposed to a college degree. This is the one that needs dry mounting because it was on the back seat under the kids for 2 weeks before the customer came in and asked "can you flatten this?"

For Vacuseal presses light pressure is possible - at least it's supposed to be. When I got my Vacuseal many years ago I found the pressure was too much for most mounting. Then I saw an add from Seal which indicated the pressure was adjustable. I couldn't see any way to adjust the pressure on mine. I called Seal and asked about it. Turns out that some Vacuseal presses have a pressure adjustment and some don't. Seems they made them with and without adjustments at various times. I was told there was a retrofit kit available and after many calls I got the right part number and ordered one. Installing it required drilling a hole in the comtrol box, cutting a vacumn line, installing a valve in the hole, connecting the 2 cut ends to this valve, and running a tube inside the press frame. Now by turning a little knob I can adjust the vac pressure to suit the job at hand. Full vac is about 26 on the digital readout and higher than I want for most mounting. Most mounting in our shop is done at about 12 on the readout. We crank it up to about 24 for laminating. For diploma seals with a hole in a matboard protector we have it down to about 6.

Check the left side of the control box on your Vacuseal for a little chrome knob to adjust the vac pressure - many framers don't know it's there. If it's not there call Seal/Bienfang/Elmers or whatever name they have this month and ask for a retrofit kit. If I looked deep enough I could probably find the kit instructions and part number - but call first, my filing is bad!
How timely! This is unbelievable to me:

One of my steady customers is an attorney. Annually he brings in certificates/diplomas; a couple of days ago he sent his assist. "with a couple of awards to be framed - you know what to do".

In she comes with a couple of tubes (ugh) and leaves. I casually opened them and there are FOUR certificates which I worked up - didn't really study them. I called the attorney and said, "There are more than a couple in these tubes, there are four." "Really?" he says. I gave him the titles of each and he says to frame 3 of them. After I explained the price difference doing up 4 (volume discount kicks in here), he says "Well, ok - do all four."

I just pulled them out and studied the one that he DID NOT originally want framed. It's signed by ROSA PARKS!

"They" trimmed the 'paper' so close to the design there is hardly any room or corner mounts. I then read this thread. I'm now thinking I should copy this and give him the original.

How should he store this? And put it where?...a safe deposit box?
Interesting dilema Sherry. I wonder if it was the Rosa Parks that I went to college with.... guess not.

A little research could feret out whether it is an historical document or just "another" document as important as the one in my wallet that is plate signed by Posario Merino. But either way, edge mounts would be my choice.

Besides, with my fat meat hooks, I hate those **** corner thingies. :D
That "rolled tight as a spring" thing must be a mid-upper-west thingy. Nobody I asked had ever seen a AA or better "rolled".
My bachelor degree was rolled. I graduated in the 70's and I guess they didn't bother to give you those nifty folders back then.
After being rolled for 20 years my diploma now hangs framed in mahogony frame with double mats and fillet.

It has proven to be a good selling tool.
About a week before receiving my patent from the USPTO I got a postcard from
Patent Awards offering their framing services. Evidently, they make a brisk business by tracking the government database on newly granted patents and then mailing those postcards. So, if an inventor has some money left he can spent it on the fabulous $500 frame. ;)

You may note that they replicate the official patent cover and they use L-J molding for their frames.

Boris Muchnik
I took my daughter to "Peepers" yesterday to get new glasses, and there on the was was the MOST HORRIBLE sight I've seen in YEARS! He had his Diploma glued and sealed on a wooden plaque. Darn thing was way past yellow, and going right in to the dark browns!

As I've said before, the customer is not the one trained in framing, we are! Don't offer somthing that will damage the diploma! Frame it right the first time.
Well Sue, same framers still claim the customer is always right. Or, Customer gets what customer wants!.

I respectfully decline such arguments. I never had a customer who, after the preservation lecture, said: "No way!!! Please, I do want my diploma ruined: Just dry mount that sucker!!""