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Mounting artwork may be done in different ways for various purposes. This article will show you how to make hinges and the correct way to mount artwork with hinges. For a mounting job to be reversible means that the artwork may be removed from the frame package without harm. If you aren't concerned with removal and simply want to protect your artwork, use only acid-free materials.

Museum board or acid-free matboard may be used as mounting board.* Remember, surfaces that touch artwork should be acid-free if preservation is a concern.** Hinge the cut mat to the mounting board with acid-free linen tape.*** Lay artwork on the mounting board and close the hinged mat. Position the artwork exactly where you want it within the mat window. Hold artwork in place and lift the hinged mat. Mark on the mount board the position of the four corners of the artwork.

Hinges. For preservation mounting, hinges made of Japanese paper^ are adhered to the back of the artwork and to the mount board with either rice or wheat starch paste.^^ Some preservationistsalso use methyl cellulose paste. All of these pastes are reversible. Hinge papers should be weaker than the paper support that is to be hinged. Under stress, the hinge should tear before the artwork is torn.

Acid-free gummed linen tape is not recommended for hinging artwork because of its strength (except on thick paper, i.e., 300+ pound watercolor paper). If preservation is a concern, pressure-sensitive acid-free tapes should not be used for hinging artwork as the adhesive is not reversible and may migrate into the artwork.^^^

How to make hinges. Tear Japanese paper into small rectangular strips. Hinges are torn rather than cut to prevent sharp edges that may show through the artwork. The size of the hinge depends on the size of the artwork. One inch wide is common. Large artwork may require a few additionalhinges along the top edge. Use a wider hinge if more support is needed. Never fasten artwork with a continuous strip across the top. Do not add hinges to the sides or the bottom. The artwork needs to hang freely to allow for expansion or contraction from atmospheric conditions. Restriction may cause buckling or separation to occur.

On an acid-free blotter*^ apply a little paste to the hinges with a small brush (too much will buckle the hinges). About 1/8" to 1/4" of hinge is pasted to the artwork. Set hinges in from the corner the width of the hinge. Do not attach hinges to an artwork's corners. Corners tear easily under stress. (See illustrations.) The artwork is laid face down on an acid-free blotter where the hinges will be applied. Attach near the corners along the top edge. Be sure the paste does not penetrate below where the hinge is attached. The artwork must remain free of the mat so it can be lifted.

Do not rub wet hinges. Rubbing can stretch paper fibers which will buckle. With an acid-free blotter, press lightly over the hinges to absorb excess moisture. Replace wet blotter with a dry one to prevent buckling. Cover the dry blotter with a sheet of glass or acrylic. Put weights on the glass so hinges dry under pressure. Let dry completely. When dry, adhere hinges to mount board.


A T-Hinge is used if the artwork's edges are to be covered by the mat.


A V-Hinge is used when the edge of the artwork is to be exposed.


Hinges are made from Japanese rice paper. Hinges are torn rather than cut to prevent sharp edges that may show through the artwork. The cross piece is cut. The size of the hinge depends on the size of the artwork. Large works of art may require a few additional hinges along the top edge. Do not fasten works of art with a continuous strip across the top.


*Do not hinge art directly to foamboard or acid-free corrugated board. Foamboard may warp. Four-ply acid-free museum quality matboard remains the best for mounting board. Two-ply is too thin and will warp too readily.

**See Matboard Conservation, and Adhesives and Tapes.

***See Mounting Paper Artwork.

^Japanese papers made of mulberry, gampi and mitsumata are used for hinging because their fibers are long, strong and flexible.

^^For starch paste recipes see The Framer's Book by Paul Frederick, CPF, Commerce Publishing Company; "The Hinging of Works of Art on Paper" by Hugh Phibbs, Picture Framing Magazine, February 1994. Methyl cellulose requires no cooking, just mix it with water.

^^^See Adhesives and Tapes.

*^Split rag matboard and cut to 4" x 4".

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