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Artist's tape vs. Framer's tape

Discussion in 'The Grumble' started by Mike Wooten, Jul 4, 2018.

  1. Mike Wooten

    Mike Wooten Grumbler in Training

    What's the difference and when would you use one over the other? I know framer's tape has much more tack, but why wouldn't you use that for everything, other than delicate art, pastels, etc. I'm not seeing any difference in price where I get the tape.

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  2. Grey Owl

    Grey Owl SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Mike, I rarely use pressure sensitive tape. All pressure sensitive tapes will fail over time. The only question, is when--a week, a month, a year, a decade, .... I do use water activated tape based adhesives for booking mats; I also use 811 removable tape for masking.

    I guess one of my questions is what are you taping? I know some framers tape the art to the mounting mat. I think a better solution is to use reversible mounting methods, or hinging with Japanese papers.
    Jim Miller, Joe B and Mike Labbe like this.
  3. Mike Wooten

    Mike Wooten Grumbler in Training

    Hi Grey Owl. Thanks for your response. I usually use the framer's/artist's tape for mats when I do a v-groove. I usually always dry mount.....lately I've been using Kool Tack. But sometimes I tape the photo to the mat or the board, and it seems like the framer's tape has more tack and durability. The water activated tapes are longer lasting? I've never used the tape, but I have used corners. I'm not sure what you mean "hinging with Japanese papers." Are you referring to the japanese water activated tapes?


  4. Joe B

    Joe B SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I believe what Grey Owl is talking about is Japanese Mulberry paper with rice or wheat paste but that is for attaching the print to the mounting board.

    I use artist tape and framers tape very little. Neither of the tapes are good if you plan to keep the piece for a long time. I never use either on a customer's framing. I do use P90 Plus which I have found is extremely tacky and will last for a long long time if you make sure it is totally adhered by going over the tape with a bone. Another thing about P90 Plus is that it is very thin but strong. But like Grey Owl said
    . I do not use water activated tape because that is, in my opinion worse than artist or framer's tape. Joe
    prospero likes this.
  5. Grey Owl

    Grey Owl SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    What Joe said. Thin papers made from mulberry plants that are water cut and attached to the art with starch paste or methyl cellulose paste. This is one of the methods used by most more experienced frame shops. It does take a little practice, but it works well. Practice, and once you can take a Kleenex tissue apart so it is a single ply, and attach it to a piece of mounting mat board so you don't distort the tissue with too much water, you will be ready to use the technique on customers art.

    I believe most framers use pressure sensitive tapes because they are easy to use, and they don't understand the negatives associated with them on better art. If it is for temporary art, use tape, because it won't make any difference.

    I do use water activated linen tape for booking the mat [attaching the window mat to the mounting mat on one side]. I am also playing with applying ethyl cellulose paste on the mulberry papers, letting it dry, and then reactivating with water. I have not done enough playing with this to be able to make legitimate comments about how well it works.
  6. Joe B

    Joe B SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I have never thought of using it that way. Do you have a problem with it drying out and releasing over time, I did but that was a few years back and I haven't worked with it since.
  7. Grey Owl

    Grey Owl SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Joe, I initially had some problems, but after I found out how to properly wet the tape I have had no problems, in several years.

    The steps I use are:
    1. cut the linen water activated tape to the longest length of the mount, minus 1/4 to1/2 inch.
    2. Wet the tape with a damp sponge.
    3. Set the tape aside for about 30 seconds.
    4. rewet the tape with a damp sponge.
    5. Apply to the back of the window mat and the mounting mat.
    6. Press with a paper towel, holding the top edge of the tape with my left hand, and pulling the paper towel down, to remove any extra moisture.

    I finally realized my problem was, that in Colorado it is very dry. If I applied the tape right after I wet it, the water didn't have enough time to penetrate the adhesive and I would not get even coverage.

    Now the first wetting with a damp sponge and waiting 30 seconds or so, allows the water to penetrate the adhesive. The second pass with a damp sponge adds a little more moisture in case I didn't get even coverage the first time.
    Joe B likes this.
  8. Joe B

    Joe B SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Thanks Russ - I have a couple of boxes laying around here that I haven't been able to use. I'll try it out, we have a bit more humidity here in Minnesota so I will have practice to be sure that it will work.
  9. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I'm a little confused. The term 'Artists' and 'Framers' tape is a bit ambiguous. What specific brands
    do these term refer to?

    I've always used P-90 as my go-to tape for everyday hinging. Japanese paper/paste for more valuable work.
    Like all pressure sensitive tapes the key word is pressure. I use an agate burnisher to firmly bond P90 and once you
    do this it will last. I got prints that I hinged with P90 nigh-on 30 years ago that are still clinging on.
    I have got a reel of some stuff that was sold as 'Artists' tape and it's very thick. I wouldn't use it even for hinging bookmats
    as it won't crease sharply enough. I've yet to find an application for it.

    ** I've never seen any water-activated linen tape. o_O
  10. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Most of what is sold as "Artist's Tape" I would consider basically a white flatback masking tape, but with a better quality adhesive than that found on hardware store masking tape. It's probably OK for holding a sheet of art paper to a board while working on a drawing, watercolor, etc. (hence the name), but I wouldn't use it for hinging art in framing, for sealing a frame, or anything else that requires long-term stability. Framer's Tape (such as Framers Tape II) is a thin carrier of some kind of plastic with an aggressive adhesive that is not tenaciously attached to the carrier. (I've seen it stay on a surface when the carrier is peeled up.) Again, I wouldn't use it for hinging artwork, but it works well where a strong but thin tape is needed, such as reinforcing the intersections of windmilled FC spacers, holding together v-grooves made on a straightline cutter (as opposed to a CMC that doesn't cut all the way through), etc.
    :cool: Rick
    prospero likes this.
  11. Grey Owl

    Grey Owl SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Please let me know how it works, Joe.
  12. Grey Owl

    Grey Owl SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    We have Lineco, a company in the US that sells conservation tapes, etc. They also sell water-activated linen tape. You might try checking a book binders supply company in the UK and see if they have water-activated cotton tape.

    We have a company that sells book binding supplies / conservation supplies here called Talas that sells water-activated cotton tape, and after talking with Hugh Phibbs, I found out that the so called linen tape is really a cotton tape.
  13. Mike Wooten

    Mike Wooten Grumbler in Training

    Wow. This is all great info. Thanks everyone. I have a couple questions: Grey Owl, why do you book the mat only on one edge? I was under the impression that booking was used to seal the art and keep debris from entering the sandwich. I've used that method with good results for some brittle moulding I've used. I am not a professional framer, and I just frame my own artwork....photography mostly, so if I mess up I can just print out another one. That's a good thing for me :) Has anyone used that thin blue painter's tape? The reason I ask is that I have some diplomas and awards stuff at my office that was starting to release. I decided to redo most of them, and when I took them apart, the artist/framer's tape (I don't know which one it was) was starting to release, but the blue painter's tape was rock solid. These things were framed probably 10-15 years ago. Also, all this stuff was probably done without burnishing the tape, so that could have something to do with it. I was a bit surprised, because I thought the blue tape was low tack and designed to remove easily after masking off for painting. Additionally, I use the blue tape to hold artwork to Kool Tack, or dry mount/photo to the mounting board before I put it in the vacuseal, and when I pull it out, the tape peels off easily. But with the 10-15 year old mount the blue tape was rock solid. I'm not sure if it's acid-free, but if it is, it's cheap and I can get it anywhere.
  14. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    :D It just so happens that I bought a roll of Blue Painter's Tape recently. I do a lot of masking when painting frames
    and some species of masking tape don't stick too well so I thought I'd try it. It doesn't seem to perform any better than
    the cheap stuff. :( But that is a completely different ball game...... Masking tape is for masking. It has no place when it comes
    to mounting paper-based art.

    When it comes to hinging artwork stuff like that will hold OK, but it's what it does to the art while it's holding it that matters more. o_O

    I had lady in the other day with a matted print (her own work). She wanted advice. She had other prints matted at a nearby framers and
    was bemoaning the fact that they had gone wavy when in frames. The mat was 'booked', that is, two parts - the window mat and an undermount
    hinged at the side so the window mat can be flipped open. The problem was that the print itself was stuck to the back of the window section with a
    strip of brown masking-type tape across the top. This rather defeats the object of having a bookmount. I gave her a quick demo on T-hinges.

    What really saddens me about these crude practices is that it's often no more work or expense to do it properly. :(
    Joe B likes this.
  15. Joe B

    Joe B SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I do agree with you but the question that must be asked is what did the customer ask for. All to often it happens, especially with artist that think they know more about framing than the framer, that the customer heard of or saw the work done that way so decided it was a good idea and wants it done that way too. There has been times I've told customers I cannot/won't do it the way they requested and I explain the reason why. Generally the customer will understand and actually appreciate the honesty. Every once in a while they will take it elsewhere which if fine with me. If I can't do it right I really don't want to do it because it will always come back to haunt you in one way or another. just my opinion Joe
    prospero likes this.
  16. Grey Owl

    Grey Owl SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    A lot of amateurs / artists / photographers mount their artwork with pressure sensitive tape. The problem is down the road; the tape will either come unattached [as you saw] or the tape will stick too much so it will tear the artwork / photo, or it will have chemicals within the tape that will discolor the artwork over time. If one ever plans on selling any of your work, and a knowledgeable customer sees masking tape / painters tape / etc., they will immediately discredit you and your works.

    And as most professional framers say, 'first do no damage.'

    The blue painters tape you mentioned is intended for masking on walls. If you try to remove it, it will often tear the mat and the art.

    Components in a mat package [ mat, art ] expand and contract at different rates. Booking at one edge of the mat package [eg the mounting mat, and the bottom window mat] allows for the expansion. I do glue additional mats to the bottom mat, as each additional mat does not need to be booked.

    Booking is not intended to seal the art. The art is 'sealed' when glazing is put on top of the mat, and a dust cover is used behind the frame,
    Joe B likes this.
  17. Mike Wooten

    Mike Wooten Grumbler in Training

    Thanks, Grey Owl. Some further questions and observations:

    How would you go about sealing the sandwich (that's what I call it anyway...mounting board, artwork, mat, and sometimes the glazing) so that debris doesn't enter. I have some moulding that I love, but it produces a ton of debris. When a customer wants this moulding, I always seal the whole sandwich with tape. Otherwise, the debris finds its way under the glazing no matter how clean I get it before I seal it. I've tried taping the moulding from the rabbet to the edge of the frame, but it's easier to just tape the whole sandwich. I don't have this problem with other mouldings though.

    When I sell my work I don't use tape, other than if they want a v-groove. Is there some other way of making a v-groove, or is taping it standard practice. Most of the stuff I dry mount with the vacuseal.

    As far as the blue tape goes, I used it serendipitously at my office when I was putting some certifications in frames. I didn't really care about the certificates so it didn't really matter, and I had run out of the framer's tape. But to my surprise, the blue tape was still sticking, it didn't discolor the certificates, and it was easy to remove. That's why I was wondering if anyone had any experience with it. But yes, I guess it wouldn't look professional at all to use it on sold works.

    Thanks again.
  18. Grey Owl

    Grey Owl SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    some framers seal the frame package with tape on the edging. the window mats, the mounting mats, the glass, etc., all sealed together with a barrier tape on the outside. And for this a pressure sensitive tape would be fine as a water activated tape could place moisture into the package [just understand that at some time it will fail.] Then they put that package into the frame. Then they add a dust cover behind.

    And yes, some frames are dirty on the inside. I generally take a damp cloth and wipe it out, before I place the mat package into the frame. If I don't and I dry fit without glass, I will get grime on the mat that is underneath the rabbet lip. And if I dry fit with the glass, I will get grime on the edge of the glass. For higher end I put a barrier rabbet tape on the inside of the frame.
    Joe B likes this.
  19. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I always tape the edges. I don't use anything exotic for this purpose, just common-or-garden masking tape.
    Fair enough, it's not going to last forever but the assembly is the point where most debris (flumbs) are likely to
    enter the frame and as long as the tape is stuck fast at this point that's really all that matters. As a bonus it does
    stay sticky long enough to continue to stop little corn flies from creeping in. This is more or less a problem according
    to where you live. If you live in a rural area surrounded by cornfields like myself it can be a BIG problem.

    FWIW, I have taken apart frames I did 30+ years ago and the tape was still sound and doing it's job.
  20. David Waldmann

    David Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I know England is famous for its gardens, but why would you want to mask one?

    Grey Owl likes this.
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