View Full Version : Back to back mounting on aluminum
Would like to hear opinions on the technique of mounting prints on aluminum plates. I know of several photographers doing it and like the idea of using a pure material instead of plates made of plastic or plastic/wood sandwiches.
However I am still uncertain regarding the long-term stability. Isn’t aluminum oxidizing extremely fast and aggressive and wouldn’t the oxides in some way diffuse into the print?
FYI here (http://largeformatphotography.info/lfforum/topic/354900.html ) is a 3 years old threat discussing mounting on aluminum but not touching archival issues at all.
Richard Avedon's work "In the American West" is mounted on Aluminum and seems to be holding up fine. It is about 25 years old now. I would think that cost would be the main issue here.
I'm not a chemist, but I used to work quite a bit with aluminum in electrical transformers. I can tell you from experience that aluminum does oxide quickly. In seconds. The resulting oxide is transparent, tough, and very thin, and pretty well shuts down continued oxidation of the aluminum underneath. So, if an alumium sheet has been out in the atmospher for 30 seconds or so, it's completely sealed in its own oxide, and is therefore stable. The aluminum, and its oxides, are tighly bound in a crystal matrix, and not likely going to diffuse into the print.
Like you, I've never seen any data on the "archivalness" of aluminum sheets used in print mounting. But such a sheet should last for quite a while. I'm guessing, but thousands of years comes to mind. Of course, YMMV.
For what it's worth, in the mid-70s I read an article describing mounting on aluminum. As a test, I used regular (probably Kodak) dry mounting tissue to mount a couple of prints on plain, grocery store aluminum foil. Then I dry mounted the aluminum foil to a cheap cardboard type mount board - not an acid free rag board. I mounted another on a piece of brown paper - probably a grocery bag (yes, grocery bags were once made of paper.)
I wanted to test the idea that the aluminum foil would protect the print from the outgassing, etc. from the mat.
Somehow, those prints survived two divorces and more than 20 moves. They've been stored in a filing cabinet - nothing special. The mount boards are beginning to deterioriate a bit, but the prints are still fine. They have me thinking that I should mount my present prints with the aluminum foil shield. john
A small factor would be what particular type of sheet was used. Some of the high strength alloys do have a corrosion problem, but you probably wouldn't encounter them as sheet. Sheets "clad" with pure aluminum would be ideal. Tell the supplier what you are going to do.
I mounted early Iris prints onto aluminum sheets back in 1991. I did an expensive 30 x 40, mounted it using the 3M roll adhesive (blue box, forgot its name, but it is commonly at art stores), and everybody thought it looked wonderful. I enjoyed showing it off so much that I took to a bunch of galleries, etc. and on one ill-fated trip, slammed my station wagon's back door onto the aluminum, crunching it forever.
And that is why I don't mount stuff on aluminum anymore. Getting the print off of the aluminum is impossible.
FWIW, it is hanging in my garage, in indirect light. The Iris print (on arches) has barely faded in 13 years. The aluminum looks perfect.
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