Question about mylar D


MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Mar 24, 2002
Clearfield, PA
I'm in the process of framing two very old land grants - one is signed by President Monroe & the other is signed by President Madison. They are written on parchment, had been folded for many, many years so there are creases & "bumps" - The owner had them to a conservator to flatten and neutralize some mold & "foxing" that occured over the years.
My original plan was to hold the documents in place with archival "corners" - but, the more I read about mylar D from Jim Miller, I am thinking that encapsulation is the better way. Will using the Mylar D be totally conservative method to use & will it help keep these documents flat? We will be using rag boards for the matting & the backing and since we will be using museum glass - will the mylar be reflective & defeat the purpose of the museum glass? Thanks all for your assistance.
Effectiveness of any technique is affected by original condition and environment. If the pieces are really flat after treatment and you can get them encapsulated in that condition you will certainly slow down any effects the environment will have on them in the future.
The flatter the MylarD is the less evident it will be in the finished piece.

I would encourage you to look into sealed frame technology for these pieces. They will be ever sensitive to minor temperature and humidity changes. The work done by the conservator can be so easily undone without proper handling and protection.
Short of that there are probably some less obvious ways to support the pieces so they will have a good look. The use of sills and ledgers with MylarD overlay on just the margins (under the matting) is a possibility.
You could also do a 'half-encapsulation.' (my term)
That is, use a rag board backer and mylar over the front. It's a nice solid way to do it.

Yes, the mylar will have visble ripples and reflections. It's The Nature Of The Beast. At this point, the best we can do is to minimize it by using the curl of the mylar to our advantage.

I would still use the Museum glass, though. The mylar won't defeat the purpose- if you used regular glass, you would have that much more reflecting. The MG will be a dramatic reduction in reflections.

I find it helps to have a framed sample in the shop, so folks are aware of the characteristics and 'look' of the mylar encapsulation.

Could you check with the conservator to see what he/she recommends for mounting this piece?

edie the ratherbegardening goddess
The conservator recommended to our customer that he use rag paper corners but that would cover up some of the writing. We use the "Full-view" corners w/ all of our limited editions that we frame (they won't show because of a lot of "white space" around the print) And I have used them on some antique pieces where they do show, but it's not objectionable. I have examples to show our customers. Edie - I like your idea, however because both of the documents have rough & ragged edges, I felt it was better to show all of the documents rather than have some of it under the mat - your opinions?
An idea off the top of my head here,so it might not be a good one. Why not cut a well into a mat just slightly larger than your grant for it to sit in. Then cover that with museum glass(or plex). Then do whatever other mat treatments you were planning on doing over that. This would eliminate the wavy reflection of the mylar and would have no visible or invisible hinging. Lit properly you won't even see the inner glass.
Brian -
We sometimes use a "sink Mat" for other objects but they are normally secured by sewing, or other methods (hello silicon
That's a thought, but I would rather that it be firmly "attached" w/o being physically attached (if you know what I mean) just in case the display is ever moved, hung up-side-down, etc. - you never know how it's going to be treated once it leaves your store.
If you used a rag mat backer in a nice neutral 'old paper' color you might be able to cut it large enough to show a bit beyond the edges of the land grants. ( I'd use one of those new delish solid cores- but then I use them on almost everything...) The mat could just cover the edges of the mylar encapsulated package. If the edges of the land grant are that irregular, then maybe it just won't matter that much if they shift a bit in their mylar packages. (in fact, it would ADD to their charm, yeah that's it...)

I like the mylar in this case, since it is in contact with the piece, it WILL help to gently keep the documents flattish.

Would you use the MG only once over the document, or would you use another piece yet over the "other mat treatment?" This sounds like a basic single-mat-with-glass.

Mike, let us know what worked with these.

edie the whyamistillnotgardening goddess
Clear polyester film (Mylar-D or Melinex 516) would provide a supportive mount, and would slow changes of temperature and humidity which could affect the old documants.

Yes, you will see the gloss of the film under Museum Glass, which is the right choice for this job. Museum Glass transmits 98% of light (i.e., image) so you will see the clear film's gloss reeeeeeally well. Framers hate that. However, customers seldom complain about the gloss, because there's no better mounting method.

If you want a no-gloss alternative that would also show the documant's edges, try a fine mesh overlay of Stabilitex (polyester) or Crepeline (silk). They look similar, but Stabilitex is better & costs more. Here's how:

1. Cut an un-buffered (for organic items) alphacellulose mount board about 1/4" to 1/2" larger than the document; beveled edges will show. Paint a line of acrylic medium on the back edges of the board & let it dry. That serves as a stable, inert, heat-activated, convenient adhesive.

2. Lay the document on the face of the board and then overlay the fine mesh fabric.

3. Carefully turn the assembly over and, using a medium-hot tacking iron, secure the fine mesh fabric to the acrylic you painted on the back of the board. Pull slight tension on the fabric as you secure it. To avoid burning, use a slip of release paper between the tacking iron and the fabric.

4. Float-mount your mounted document on a larger, decorative backing board.

Is there a problem with hinging it? Like with pass through hinges, for strength? You can make "archivally correct" pressure sensitive hinges from Japanese paper and Lascaux HV360.

Lay the paper on polyethylene sheeting and brush the adhesive on, and let dry. Add more coats if necessary. Cut into strips as a kind of tape, and peel the paper/adhesive strip off the polyethylene. Leave one end of the Japanese paper uncoated so that you can have a "handle" to pull.

Reversible with polar solvents like acetone and ethanol.

Then have an extra deep window mat to accomodate the 3Dness of the piece.

Just one more option..

Edie -
Yes - we are using one of the new darker rags as a backer and showing about 1/4" all around. Then I will use double-thick rag (that won't be seen) and the top mat will be a tan color rag - almost matching the parchment just a shade darker. It will be framed in a very simple black wood moulding. (not at the shop - so I don't have specific mat numbers)

Jim -
I like the idea regarding Stabiltex - but I'm concerned that some of the writing (that is bearly visible now) would be lost? Having never used that particular product, I'm hestitant to experiment with it for this project, but I really appreciate your input. BTW - Is Stabiltex available from United? or where would you suggest we get it from?

Rebecca -
Thanks also for your input - because it is written on a parchment (it actually feels like an old chamois) I want it to be completely free of any type of attachment - BTW isn't acetone rather nasty for conservation work? We used to use it in our photo lab to clean developer stains from equipment - It could take the hide off an alligator!

Thanks everyone for your help - will let you know how it turns out.
Originally posted by McPhoto:

Rebecca -
BTW isn't acetone rather nasty for conservation work?

I suppose it depends on your definition of nasty.
It's just an organic solvent, quite polar and with a fast evaporation rate. I guess it could be nasty if used incorrectly, just like anything else.

What are you using the double thick rag for? To float the top mat up? If so and it indeed won't be seen, why not just use some scrap strips of 4 ply rag doubled up? I'd use some white glue (PVA) or acrylic gloss medium to hold them in place.

I have used the Stabiltex on projects like this and it is an excellent alternative. It is expensive, though- I would offer it as an 'upgrade' to those who don't like the glare of mylar. It IS virtually invisible, I don't think it would interfere with any writing. You can order up a sample booklet for a few dollars from Talas and that will help you pick out the color of fabric that will just disappear. It's neat stuff and very user-friendly.

edie the fabrichoarder goddess

We have used Mylar 35mm film sleeving material to hold old documents.

I'll try and describe how we use it.

The sleeve is made to surround 35mm film and overlaps about 3/8 of an inch. That bent overlap works nicely to hold a document in place. It’s available in roll form and you can run it 100% around the perimeter of the object. You will need to hide the 3/8 inch coverage with a matt but that’s a little less cropping than a large maxi-view mylar corner and more secure.

Edie - Got in a hurry typing & I guess I should have said I was going to double up on the 4 ply w/ scraps - Also didn't realize that stabiltex came in colors - This parchment is rather colorful with all the foxing & staining that it acquired over the years.

Doug - With the uneveness of this particular piece, your suggestion wouldn't work - but now I know what to do w/ all those rolls of 120 sleeving we have laying around :D

Originally posted by McPhoto:
...I like the idea regarding Stabiltex - but I'm concerned that some of the writing (that is bearly visible now) would be lost? Having never used that particular product, I'm hestitant to experiment with it for this project, but I really appreciate your input. BTW - Is Stabiltex available from United? or where would you suggest we get it from?
Stabilitex is amazingly invisible in most applications -- it is extremely sheer. But the only way to know how it will look is to try it on the document in question.

No, United doesn't have it. Not yet, anyway. (Peter, this might be a good product for you to carry.)

The only source I know is Talas in NYC: 568 Broadway; New York, New York 10012; Phone 212-219-0770; http://Talasonline.comitas