UART Tip #41: “Making Your Own UART Mounted Panels” with Lyn Asselta

Because I do a lot of wet underpaintings, because I paint en plein air, and because I live in a humid climate, I find it easier to work with mounted UART paper.

If done properly, there will be no “fighting” your paper at the easel and no curling of edges. If using archival products, you’ll ensure that your paintings will be gallery-worthy for years to come. Because mounting paper is a tedious project, I often choose a day, every few months, and spend the day making mounted panels of various sizes. When they’re done, I tape a piece of glassine to each one and they’re ready to use whenever the mood strikes.

My preferred way to mount UART paper is to adhere it to archival, 8-ply 100% cotton museum board. For smaller pieces, 4-ply mat board will do just fine. Because I want the support to be archival, I use an archival, acid-free permanent adhesive film called Grafix Double Tack Mounting Film. I order the film in large sheets (24 x 36) from Dick Blick Art Materials and then cut it to size. The adhesive film works the same way a piece of contact paper works. Fair warning, this stuff is super sticky and can be unwieldy in larger sizes. Until you’re used to using it, find a friend to help with the process; you may find that you need an extra set of hands.

The actual mounting process is fairly simple and straightforward:

1. Materials needed are: UART paper cut to desired size, mat board (museum board) cut 1” larger than your UART sheet on all sides (I use 1” but you can use more or less, depending on your comfort level with the process), adhesive film sheet cut to same size as your UART paper, a utility knife with a new blade, metal straightedge ruler, sharp pencil, self-healing mat or other suitable cutting surface.

2. Use the pencil and ruler to mark the smoothest side of the mat board with guidelines for placing the UART paper. I measure 1” in on all sides and mark each line from side to side. (see lines drawn on image above)

3. Gently peel back the corner of one side of the adhesive sheet to expose the sticky adhesive film. Carefully place this corner into the corner of the marked box on the mat board where your UART paper will go. Be sure to line up the edges of the adhesive corner with the lines drawn on the matboard. Secure about an inch and a half of the corner. (see image 2 below)

4. Now, you’ll slowly peel the paper away on the underside of the adhesive sheet with one hand. With your other hand, smooth and press down the adhesive as you peel, keeping an eye on the guidelines you’ve drawn and lining your adhesive up as closely as possible.

It’s somewhat hard to see here, but the adhesive is already adhered in the top right corner. What you see is the paper that gets peeled from the underside of the adhesive film.

Peel until the entire bottom sheet is off and the adhesive film is completely in contact with the matboard.

5. Use the heel of your hand, or a brayer, or even a marble rolling pin to thoroughly press down the entire surface making sure the adhesive film as not bubbles or creases that you can feel. (Be careful…paper cuts come easily on the edges) When you’re satisfied that there are no surface bubbles or dimples, peel off the top layer of paper, exposing the sticky adhesive film.

6. Line up your UART paper with one side of the adhesive film and carefully lay it down onto the adhesive, being careful that all edges line up. Using one of the paper cover sheets that you just peeled off the film, place the sheet with the slick side up onto the surface of the UART paper and press firmly, rubbing the heel of your hand across the surface. If you find any bubbles at this point, you can use a bone folder or the back of a spoon to burnish out the bubble.

Your mounted UART panel is now ready to use and will look like the photo below.

Once you’re finished, cover the panel with a sheet of glassine and you can store it until you’re ready to paint. I use the 1” border so that the bottom of the UART paper is not in direct contact with my easel, making it easier to paint to the edges of the sanded paper.

When your painting is done, a mounted surface is generally used in a frame with spacers instead of a mat. You can also easily use a mounted painting directly against glass if you choose to frame with that method.

To prepare your panel for framing, secure a piece of glassine over the surface of the painting and, using a metal straightedge and a utility knife, carefully cut away the extra mat board around the painting. Use caution, work slowly, and don’t cut into the UART paper.

There are other methods and products that can be used for mounting paper to a more rigid surface. After much experimentation, this is the method I personally prefer. I hope it will work for you as well.

Lyn Asselta, PSA, IAPS EP

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