Wavy posters under plexi


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Apr 8, 2004
Hi All,

I have a very good customer that has brought me over a dozen signed movie posters over the last year.

He wanted all of them doen the exact same way. This framing was a narrow metal frame, plexi, acid free foam core.

They looked good and he was very happy with them. Once they were hanging for some time a few of them began to get a bit wavy in the middle.

He got his framing recomendations on how they should be framed from a website and thought that way was the best way to do them. I thought that way was fine and that is why I went ahead with the job.

I thought some of the waviness might have been from the poster sagging a bit so once he brought them back I let them lay on their backs for 10 days and they settled mostly flat, then I tried a small hinge in the top corners to stop the posters from sliding down. Let them lean in my shop for 2 more weeks and they still looked good.

Got a call 3 days after he picked them up saying that it is happening again.

The only difference between his home and my shop was that they were not hanging here just leaning.

I am thinking that the wire is pulling the long sides in and flexing the middle enough for them to get wavy.

I am hoping to combat this with using wall buddies. This way they will be supported mostly from the top and cause no stress on the sides. I am also hoping that they will keep it square (or at least not make it unsquare like the wire did).

I thought about a kite wire in the back but would rather spend the extra money and get the right fix asap.

They are all signed somewhat valuable posters so drymounting in any form is out of the question.

So with all I've said what do you think? Will wall buddies save the day? Do you agree that it is probably the wire pulling in the longs of a metal frame?

(Done a few of my own posters with the same frame but I drymount my own posters because they are for my own enjoyment and not purchased as an investment, but have never had a problem with it)

OK grumblers fire away!!!
Sounds like it's the nature of paper.

Could it be that his house is dampish/humid and the waviness comes about because of that? Does he have these hanging in the basement?

Often I will put these in a frame just a titch large (say, an extra 1/16" each side) to allow for expansion and contraction of the paper. Also, I avoid spring clips because they are just too aggressive. I cut strips of coroplast or fomecore to take up the space behind the backer.

The only thing to do to the art is nothing that you could do: I would contact a conservator to see if these could be mounted to a backer (like mulberry paper?) to give it some more weight and wave-resistance.

Other than that, it's the nature of paper.

edie the didimentionitsthenatureofpaperyet goddess
I wouldnt mount these...EVER. Other than that I would tend to agree with what the goddess has to say on this point.
I agree, the paper is the thin stock cheap posters are usually on. For the most part the posters are hanging around the house. Some are in the basement but the wavy ones have come from different locations.

Out of all of them maybe less than half have been affected.

He won't want to pay for a conservator and I won't mount them even if he had a change of heart. Some of the posters have been signed by actors that have since died and I'm not going to try and replace them.

I haven't used wall buddies but have heard their praises on here in the past so am hoping for past experiences, any takers?

Thanks in advance.
One thing you might try is to countermount paper to the back of the foam core in order to cause it to bow toward the plex. The sagging appears in the middle of these pieces since there is no pressure there to hold them flat. In order to do this you just need to roll paste on the back of the board and lay the paper down smoothly. When the paste dries the board will have an exagerated bow toward the plex.
I have had this happen, sounds like the foam core is buldging out in the middle and the edges have pressure. I strung a wire from top to bottom (so as not to pull in the sides)and got it as tight as I could than stacked 2 inch squares of foam core under the wire to put pressure in the center, you don't need real heavy pressure. It did flatten everything evenly and kept the poster flat.
ArtCare Restore could be an option. I don't consider this product the same as drymounting and the manufacturer states that it is archival and meets current FACTS standards for preservation framing. We use it all the time for limited edition artwork and some original; on a case-by-case consideration. I have mounted paper towels and reversed it without any damage detectable by my eye or UV lamp.... assuming the mount was initially made using manufacturer's recommendations. Less heat is better.

Did you use springclips to take up the slack in the frame? Using matboard as spacers rather than springs so that there is some room for expansion without pressure might also make a difference. OOPS, Edie already mentioned this.
That website sounds familiar.

There is absolutely no reason for those posters to lay flat. They are not dry mounted. They are not hinged to allow expansion and contraction. They are smushed. There will be uneven pressure on different areas and they will, inevitably, wrinkle.

Even WallBuddies won't help.
I was waiting for someone to say-

"There is absolutely no reason for those posters to lay flat. They are not dry mounted. They are not hinged to allow expansion and contraction. They are smushed. There will be uneven pressure on different areas and they will, inevitably, wrinkle.

Even WallBuddies won't help."

The posters given the description should be matted or floated with spacers so that there is airspace between acrylic and poster. The ArtCare Restore appears to be the best solution if the customer requires the posters to be completely flat.
Originally posted by JbNormandog:

They are all signed somewhat valuable posters so drymounting in any form is out of the question.

You really should reconsider ArtCare Restore from Bainbridge.

It is a wonderful product and the best thing to come along in our industry for some time.
I think you still need to address "flexing" of the metal frame with the wire used to hang. You didn't say which profile you are using, or the size of the finished pieces or what grade and thickness of acrylic you are using, however, if you are using acid free fome-cor then they can't be larger than 40 x 60 (unless you pieced them together and failed to mention that.)

I agree that squeezing thin paper stock in a metal frame with spring clips around the perimeter will most often have a "rippled" poster because where does the paper from the poster have to go when it expands? It shows the expansion as ripples! Also, hinging in the corners does nothing for the center of the image, so you are probably getting some "sag" there as well.

The only product that works well to support metal frames is from Albin products. They even have an adjustable foot that can be attached to their cross support to add pressure to the center of a piece framed with fome-cor. www.albinproducts.com

Would you please post what type of metal frame you are using, the size of the frames, and what grade/thickness of acrylic you are using?
Considering that there is nothing between the plexi and the artwork, it shouldn't matter that if it's mounted or not, it's already been said once, but nothing should be touching the glazing. You might as well just throw the poster away.

Please defend your statement. Why should the poster be thrown away?

Sometimes the support offered by acrylic glazing, especially on large, thin posters is more advantageous than the stress on the piece floating and supporting itself from hinges at the top.

It is also probably better than putting a spacer in the frame directly on top of the art.
You only throw it away when half of it has welded itself (ink only) to the glazing.

Untill then... who cares if it waves.

Personally I kind of like the idea of a friendly wave or two from the art art on my walls....

It warms the heart....

Originally posted by Rob Markoff:

Please defend your statement. Why should the poster be thrown away?

I am merely stating that if the glazing is DIRECTLY touching the artwork, it will eventually stick and need to be thrown away, thus rendering it junk, which is why the OP is not wanting to mount it.

Haven't you seen posters stuck to plexi? I know I have.
You know Bear and Belinda, I've been framing a long time (this is my 35th year) and I have sure taken apart my fair share of framed things, many that have been framed for years and have been brought to me for reframing.

Actually I have taken apart more than many, and I have NEVER seen anything other than a photograph stick to glazing, and never anything to acrylic.

I do not believe that all things eventually stick.

I wish the OP would give the size and thickness of the acrylic used.
Help me out here. OP?


[ 01-22-2006, 11:44 AM: Message edited by: Ron Eggers ]
I think I'd better go get some fresh air.

"Original poster" sounds like an oxymoron.

But then the little light went on (maybe 5 watts, tops) and I realized you're talking about "one who posted."

I'm going to check the batteries in the carbon-monoxide alarm.

I would agree that an unspaced poster is unlikely to stick to acrylic glazing, but I think it's highly likely to ripple.

Best shot, with that type of setup, might be to fit it loosely with fomecore or Coroplast filler and no spring clips.

I think that's generally true with metal frames.

I have never understood the rationale behind spacers pinching the edges of an unmounted print or poster. That sounds like a recipe for disaster.
I agree with Rob. We all know that there is risk any time an image is in direct contact with the glazing. Risk is not the same thing as "Might as well throw it away."

By addressing the risk, and not ignoring it, you can minimize that risk.

Its my understanding that light harms 100% of everything it touches. Until a customer cares so much for their piece to put blankets over all their frames, I'm not going to be overly concerned with this small risk.
Sometimes they stick, sometimes they don't, depends on humidity/moisture, the type of surface coating on the poster and the type of inks, and whether there is a space between glazing (plexi or glass) and poster

Sometimes they wave,ripple and accordion, sometimes they don't, it depends on whether the poster has room to expand with changes in temperature and relative humidity. If the frame is pinched at the edges and bows at the center, the center of the poster will be free to move and "wave". Pinching at the edges will tend to keep the paper flat there, but depending on how extreme the changes in moisture content are, and how tight the pinch is, this might cause the paper might pleat or accordian ripple at the edges.

There is no getting around it. If there is enough change in moisture content inside the frame, the paper is going to expand or contract. How evenly it does so depends not only on how the poster is framed, but also on how even or uneven the environmental changes are within the frame. e.g. If direct sunlight hits only 1/2 of the poster, chances are the paper will distort unevenly.

Hope this helps.

One thing to add to Rebecca's lucid description of
the physics of posters between backing boards and
acrylic sheet, is the issue of the edge of the poster touching the side of the frame. If the glazing and backing are larger than the poster, that should keep its edges from touching the frame. If they do touch, you will get curved ripples that radiate our from the spot of contact,
which distinguishes them from the over-all ripples
that pinching at the edges produces, when the humidity goes up.