Pictures in bunches, kinda...


CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Jul 15, 2004
Frankfort, IN
I have a customer who brought in a 24 x 36 white mat with 20 pictures cut in different sizes,all glued together in different locations on the board. They all overlap each other and stick up a little over a quarter of an inch to the last one glued down. However they did a pretty bad job in getting them all flat and there are some that stick up a 1/4 inch by themselves. They want me to just stick it in a frame tight against the glass so they will flatten out. Not knowing what process the pictures were done, I'm afraid they will either stick to the glass or develope rings on them over time. Should I go with maybe a peice of plexiglass under the glass to protect the pictures or would that protect them? Anything I would wrap the whole thing in is going to show since the gap between the mat they are on and the last picture glued is quite a bit. Any suggestions on doing this right? (and safe) Thanks for any suggestions.

Isn't there an old computer addage of ............ "garbage in...garbage out"

Isn't that we are discussing here. You are in a no win situation with this. It can either be done cheaply (no shop label and no warranty) or taken apart and totally redone (properly).

That is the choice for the client.
Well, I was hoping someone could give me a little better answer, but I guess there is none. The thing about this framing job is it was done by a high school student and it won top honors at an Indiana State Art Competition for students. (just the way it is) I'm not sure your understanding my question, but then maybe you do and just don't know an answer either. These pictures are tastfully done, all cut in different sizes and made into somewhat of a collage of pictures by stacking them on top of each other, but parts of the picture below it showing, then they put it all on a piece of mat board. All of this was shrink wrapped by the school. I need to put it in a frame. I didn't want to leave the shrink wrap on there as I figure it would show through with wrinkles. Garbage in, garbage out is not an option for me, but I'll figure something out.


I think I (we) understand what is going on.

Because a school gave an award to a design does not mean that it was done properly and will last or will lie flat. That is the way things are.

With that said, you do what you can do, and the rest is the responsibility of the customer. the best that you can do and then on to the next project that will be a great project.
If they want you to just put it in a frame up against the glass, just do so. If you don't, then the guy down the street will.
Let them know about the troubles that glass smacked up against photo emulsion can cause and be done with it.
Are you talking about Newton's Rings caused by shiny against shiny? If so, then it won't happen over time; they'll show up immediately. You could always use non-glare/reflection control glass with the etched side against the photos. Acrylic won't help a bit.
Tell them that the photos are most likely to stick to the glass in damp/wet environments. Then when you assemble the piece, dust seal it. That is, tape the whole package together with some 810 tape. That way, if someone spritzes the front with windex and lets it drip (and they will,) it'll be somewhat protected. Search for 'sealing the frame package' for specific instructions. Many of us do this routinely (I am one of them.)

Also, because of the depth of the photo stacks, you could experiment with either assembling loosely (you can still dust seal, as well) or using shallow spacers; deep enough to prevent uneven/undue pressure, shallow enough to let the glass flatten the pics a bit.

Now you can start worrying about what kind of glue they used on the pictures and how many times this will come back to refasten slipped pics. Oh well.

edie the itiswhatitis goddess
Thanks for all your help. I told them I could not guarantee they wouldn't have problems down the road. One of those things that drive you crazy for sure when you try to do quality work. Of course they will probably forget what I told them a day after picking it up. Wouldn't it be nice to video tape people in such cases where you could play it back for them? I suppose my security system would do that, but it would get old saving all the tapes.

Originally posted by Rock:
...I told them I could not guarantee they wouldn't have problems down the road...Of course they will probably forget what I told them a day after picking it up...
I would have said it differently: "You WILL have problems with this assembly down the road, and I have suggestions to help deal with them."

Of course you have to provide what the customer specifies, but make sure they understand the consequences of poor assembly and the limitations of framing. Key talking points:

1. Everything in a picture frame should be spaced away from the glass -- especially photos, which will stick -- so we use a spacer to separate them.

2. The glass will be separated and therefore will not hold anything down.

3. The adhesive(s) used in the assembly will probably fail over time. To facilitate opening the frame and re-gluing later, suggest turnbuttons on a wood frame or a sectional aluminum frame.

4. In addition to your shop's sticker, put a nicely printed label on the dustcover that explains how to open the frame later, for the anticipated repairs.
Been there, did that (with them). They want what they want, unfortunatly. I expect the pics will stick. They been warned, that's about all I can do. I do like the turnbutton idea though, lol.

Take solice Rock, it meant as much to them as they spent on the frame job.

In the future, it will mean less and less, or they may be back because it then begins to mean more.

At which time you get to re-explain the hows and whys of doing it right. :D
Here's 3 ideas:
If you were around this area I would send you over to ProLam and have them laminate it. They use a hard bed hydralic press that puts out about 10 times the pressure of our vacuum presses (OK, maybe I exagerate a little) and does a pretty good job getting the laminate into the nooks and crannies.

Cut a mat to cover all the edges. It's a bitch but it can be done. Last one I did I layed a piece of tracing paper over the "artwork" and marked out the cut lines with a pencil. Then I reversed it over the back of the new mat and rubbed the cut lines so the pencil lines transfered onto the mat. It won't hold down the curled edges but it might hide them.

My favorite solution would be to have the piece scanned and then frame the print. That's just too way easy though.