How to use T-hinges to mount a photograph

Sometimes what appears obvious to one person is not so for another. I was talking to a customer in the workshop the other day and I mentioned that I would be using T-hinges to mount their photograph. I found myself explaining exactly what a T- hinge is and why it is a good Idea to use this technique.

Hence this post where I describe the use of T- hinges and the use with a window mount.

T- hinges are a standard and proven way of mounting photographs and other works on paper in preparation for framing. They attach the work to the under mount using the minimum necessary contact with the work yet provide a secure fastening to ensure that the work does not move once framed. Used correctly they eliminate the cockling seen on badly mounted photographs and are reversible, allowing the item to be removed from the frame with no damage. Try doing that if you use masking tape.

T-hinges are almost always used with a mount with an upper window mount hinged using tape to a lower sub-mount to which the artwork is fixed.

For this demonstration I’m using a photograph of the northern lights and a window mount cut from conservation grade mount board cut on our computerised mount cutter.

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T-hinges are designed to allow strong and reliable mounting of paper based artwork but at the same time to allow the artwork to move ever so slightly. Paper expands and contracts with changes in humidity and if the paper was taped along all edges, or even one edge, there is a significant risk that when the paper expands the picture would wrinkle (cockle in framing parlance) as the expanding paper has nowhere to go. T-hinges allow this expansion to take place and the use of a window mount allows the paper to expand and move under the edges of the mount.

T-hinges are made from two strips of gummed paper and attached to the reverse of the top edge of the item to be framed. Once the item has been positioned correctly a second strip of paper is used to secure the first strip to the under mount. This forms the ‘T’ shape and holds the item securely in place.

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Weighted Mounts – Why Weight?

When having a picture framed it is worth discussing the final layout of the frame and how the overall look of the picture can be enhanced by some simple design adjustments.

Consider the three images below. The first shows a perfectly good frame with a mount cut equal size all around the image. The blue double mount enhances the colour of the kingfisher. The square format is not uncommon but, to my mind at least, the picture is saying ‘could have tried harder’.

The second image has had the mount extended slightly at the bottom i.e. the mount has been ‘weighted’. This is a common approach and is often used to overcome a visual illusion that can cause some images to appear to have a narrower mount margin at the bottom. There is also a view that this slight weighting approach dates back to the days when pictures were hung from wires and picture rails.

The third image has had the mount weighted by adding a significant margin to the bottom. This allows a rectangular frame to be made which can be visually more pleasing and I think the additional space around the image gives a more harmonious look to the finished frame.

At the end of the day it is down to personal a taste and preference however a visit to a bespoke framer will allow you to make the right choices guided by their advice and experience.

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Computerised Mount Cutting

Ashcraft Framing is fortunate to have a Computerised Mount Cutter (CMC) in the workshop.  The CMC does away with laborious hand cutting of mounts and opens up a whole new world of creative possibilities for designing mounts for a wide variety of framing jobs.CMC

The CMC is basically a very large automated board cutter which operates in 3 directions. It makes vertical cuts and 45 degree cuts for the bevel of mounts. It is driven by computer and uses compressed air to drive the cutting head.  It can cut full sheets of mounts and no time and each mount is perfectly cut each and every time.  Here is a short video of the CMC in action cutting a full sheet of boards.

Taking on a CMC was a big decision for us and so far we are delighted both with the capabilities of the machine and the reaction from customers when the see the results. The range of mount cutting possibilities are endless, from simple rectangles to ovals and rounds to large multi-aperture and complex designs.

CMC Software

The image on the right shows the software used to design mounts and control the CMC. The on the mount on-screen is a double mount with a decorative cut-out on the upper mount showing through.

There are many other designs available and it is easy to design mounts for specific purposes such as football shirt framing and object framing.

Below are some images recent examples of jobs where we have used the CMC. The Harry Potter multi aperture mount includes some words written directly onto the mount using the pen capability of the CMC.

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