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, so 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 time. Textured papers, and alpha-cellulose papers in particular, hold memory for longer.

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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