Unpacking, unrolling and flattening large prints

Cassie Updated by Cassie

We know it can be a bit daunting to unroll a large print, given how delicate archival pigment prints are and how unwieldy a large (and sometimes curly) print can be, but once you’ve got a few essential points down pat, the rest is easy! 

If you’ll be framing your print, we recommend hand it to your framer in the original package - hard as it is to resist the urge to unwrap it! If you must unroll your prints, follow these instructions.

1. Find a flat, clean surface. Ideally wear cotton gloves. Next best is food-grade latex. If going nude, ensure your hands are clean/dry.

2. Slide the outer paper band off your print and recycle. Don’t unpick the tape - you don’t want any adhesive near your print.

3. Unroll the print and place it print-side-up on the flat surface. It will want to curl back on itself, so having a friend to anchor it will help. Reposition the archival sheeting.

4. Ensuring that the printed surface is protected by said sheeting, place a few smooth, flat, heavy objects on the very ends of the print. Leave for a day (if you have the time/space).

5. Remove objects and have a squiz. If it still wants to spring back, replace the weights and give it more time. Generally speaking, the larger the print the quicker it will flatten - flattening smaller prints can take some time. In addition, if your print features a lot of negative space (un-inked areas) and/or is on a textured paper, this process can take longer too. Textured and alpha-cellulose papers require more flattening time, as they are stiffer.

Very important: never (ever!) roll an archival pigment print in the opposite direction to its natural curl. This will damage the paper and the pigment.

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