Anatomy of a Monster

 Sorry to disappoint, but if you think this post is going to be all about dragon duodenums, or Kracken colons,  you may have been Rickrolled. This post is actually about the Great Wall of China, a true monster, which is over 21,000 kilometers long, was started in 221 BCE, and owes its incredible longevity to...sticky rice, which was mixed with the mortar that holds the stones together so tightly that even weeds can't grow in the cracks! The Great Wall attracts over 63 million visitors each year, and there must be about a zillion photographs taken annually of this incredible edifice.

Some clients came into the gallery recently with a fine art photograph of the Great Wall seeking recommendations for framing. It wasn't quite as long as the Great Wall itself, but when framed would measure over seven feet long, which called for over-oversize components. Having dealt with even larger monsters in our past we simply said, "No problemo," and proceeded to marshall all the necessary elements to complete this herculean task. 

Since the photograph was an expensive fine art limited edition, and our clients decided they wanted it to be mounted, there was only one product available to handle such a big image. We called the manufacturer and had a lengthy discussion on the use of their product, things to watch out for, caveats, etc. The first order we received had a flaw and was rejected, and another was shipped in from California overnight to meet the client's deadline. Oversized mats were sourced locally, and the glazing material was the finest in the world, Optium Museum Plex, which would come out of a 4' x 8' sheet – a bank-breaker, for sure! The moulding, which had to be perfectly straight and flawless was also sourced from the Left Coast, and fortunately was in stock, and shipped overnight. 

All of the components were now in-house, but one critical element was missing. We had cleaned the vacuum press inch by inch, polished the platen, laser checked the temperature accuracy, and confirmed dwell time, but we would have only one chance to get the mounting right – it had to be absolutely perfect, with no margin of error whatsoever. This called for more research. After several hours of due diligence, we located a special roller used in cleanrooms to remove dirt and dust that could barely be seen by the human eye. At over a half a thousand dollars it wasn't cheap, but it was a game-changer that would go a long way to ensuring the perfection of the mount. We called the manufacturer and ordered it. When the roller arrived, we meticulously cleaned both sides of the substrate and both the front and back of the print. We even rolled the platen in the vacuum press multiple times! In addition, we ceased cutting operations the day before to limit even microscopic airborne particulates.

We centered the print on the substrate, covered it with a brand new slip-sheet which we also rolled, and tucked it in our oversized vacuum press. There wasn't even a half-inch to spare! Temperature, check, positioning, check, dwell time, check. We closed the lid and set the countdown timer. Then we waited.

to be continued...

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