Laminating – Definition, Examples, History & More – Art Conservation and Restoration Glossary

What is Laminating?

Laminating is a process of sealing a document or artwork between two layers of plastic film. This film is typically made of polyester or polypropylene and is heat-sealed to encase the item securely.

Laminating is commonly used to protect important documents, photographs, and artwork from damage caused by moisture, dirt, or handling. It also provides a glossy finish that enhances the appearance of the item.

Types of Laminating Techniques

There are two main types of laminating techniques: hot lamination and cold lamination. Hot lamination involves using heat to melt the adhesive on the film and bond it to the item being laminated. Cold lamination, on the other hand, uses pressure-sensitive adhesive to stick the film to the item without the need for heat.

Hot lamination is often preferred for items that require a more durable seal, such as ID cards or outdoor signs. Cold lamination is ideal for delicate items that may be damaged by heat, such as photographs or artwork.

Materials Used in Laminating

The materials used in laminating include laminating film, laminating machines, and sometimes additional tools such as trimmers or corner rounders. Laminating film comes in various thicknesses, finishes, and sizes to accommodate different types of items.

Laminating machines can be small, desktop models for personal use or large, industrial machines for high-volume laminating. These machines use rollers to apply pressure and heat (in the case of hot lamination) to seal the film to the item.

Benefits of Laminating in Art Conservation

Laminating plays a crucial role in art conservation by protecting valuable artworks from environmental damage. The sealed plastic film acts as a barrier against moisture, dust, and pollutants that can degrade the artwork over time.

Laminating also helps to stabilize fragile or deteriorating artworks by providing support and preventing further deterioration. It can enhance the colors and details of the artwork, making it more visually appealing.

Risks and Considerations in Laminating

While laminating offers many benefits, there are also risks and considerations to keep in mind. Improper lamination can trap moisture or air bubbles, leading to mold growth or delamination. Over time, the adhesive in the film may yellow or become brittle, causing damage to the item.

It is important to choose the right type of laminating film and technique for each item to ensure proper preservation. Consulting with a professional conservator or art restorer can help determine the best approach for laminating valuable artworks.

Examples of Laminating in Art Restoration

Laminating is commonly used in art restoration to preserve and protect delicate artworks. For example, old photographs can be laminated to prevent fading and yellowing, while vintage posters can be laminated to protect them from tears and creases.

In the restoration of paintings, laminating can be used to stabilize flaking paint or protect fragile surfaces. By encapsulating the artwork in a layer of plastic film, conservators can prevent further damage and ensure the longevity of the piece.

Overall, laminating is a valuable tool in the field of art conservation, providing a means to protect and preserve valuable artworks for future generations to enjoy.