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What is Linen Backing? 

Linen Backing is a way of conservation that is employed with vintage posters in order to display or frame them without diminishing their value. Linen backing and restoration revitalize damaged posters and keep them from incurring additional damage. A linen backing allows the poster to lie smooth and flat so that it is a simple matter to handle it, frame it or store it.

How Does One Remediate Tears and Losses? 

A lot of vintage posters incur losses, folds and tears as the years go by. They end up looking frayed and impossible to repair. Don't allow this to stop you. It is possible for a restorer with lots of experience to repair a damaged poster. Once a linen backing has been applied to the poster, it is a simple matter to flatten folds and repair tears. The linen-backing process is the first thing that needs to be done, and it is essential in the process of restoring your poster. After a linen backing is applied and a restoration expert uses watercolor paints and colored pencils to restore the colors, these tears and folds are practically invisible. It is possible to use a piece of a different poster to repair the loss. The majority of expert restorers have many scrap posters on hand that they can use to make repairs, in most cases. When a poster has been restored correctly, it often looks far better than it even used to look. 

How to Frame a Linen-Backed Poster 

When it comes to framing a vintage poster, one of the key things to understand is how to mount it and attach it correctly. Due to their condition, size or fragility, it is usually necessary to mount most vintage posters. A high-quality linen back comes into play here. While the majority of framers have dry-mount presses, using a dry-mounting process for a vintage poster can ruin it. During the past decade, a number of dry-mount adhesives have come to market that are touted as being "Reversible and Archival." Unfortunately, there are disadvantages to these reversible adhesives. It can be quite costly to reverse the dry-mount process, and solvents that must be used to do the reversal also have a negative impact on the inks used in the piece. Other dry-mount adhesives can be reversed with heat application, but in these situations, it is not unusual for the adhesive to remain bonded to the artwork and release from the board. When this happens, the piece has been severely damaged, making it less valuable. While dry-mounting materials are said to be archival, their value is somewhat dubious, being that reversing the dry-mount process is so expensive and destructive. 

The next thing to understand when it comes to framing a vintage poster is that a poster does not require any additional mounting or stretching once it has been correctly backed with linen. It is not unusual for framers who lack familiarity with linen backing to believe that once a poster has a canvas backing, it can be stretched. This is a common error. The purpose of the canvas is merely to lend strength to the backing and keep the piece from ripping. The linen backing process involves using stretcher bars to tighten the canvas, thereby flattening the product. 

Once a poster has received a linen backing, archival tape can be used to attach it to a sheet of acid-free foam board. The poster needs to be trimmed so that each side measures about 1/8 inch less than the inner dimensions of the frame. Nothing more needs to be done to a linen-backed poster to prepare it to be framed.