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Matting and Hinging Works of Art on Paper

Paper Hinges

Paper hinges have traditionally been used to secure paper or photographic pieces into mats, due to their security. (However, many institutions now favor more easily reversed, adhesive-free attachments). The choice of paper for hinges and the introduction of moisture to an item requires expertise and experience, for this reason it is recommended that only someone with conservation experience utilizes paper hinges.

Usually art is hinged into a completed mat with handmade kozo or other mulberry paper and wheat starch (or rice starch) paste. The mulberry paper used is thin and flexible, yet has strong, long fibers that are compatible with most items. The hinge should always be lighter and less stiff than the art to which it is being applied. For smaller items as few as two hinges may suffice, but the number and size will need to increase with the weight and size of the art.

Mounting the artwork with adhered hinges to a removable back board (which can then be cornered in or otherwise attached into the mat) is useful for items that may be repeatedly exhibited. The cross part of the hinge can be trimmed from the upright hinge when the item is removed from the mat, and the hinge is then reused by adding a new cross layer.


T-hinges are perhaps the most common type. A T-hinge is strong and secure, but usually can only be used if the edges of the work will be hidden by the window mat.

To make and apply a T-hinge:

  1. Feather tear the mulberry hinge paper to the correct size, leaving feathered edges with fibers emanating in all directions (this avoids a strong adhesive edge that could damage delicate artwork).
  2. Place the art face down on the table and weight securely.
  3. Lay your hinge on a piece of scrap blotter, apply approved paste to the very edge of the hinge (the amount that the hinge will overlap the piece of art to be secure, often only 1/8”), and wait briefly for the extra moisture to be absorbed by the blotter.
  4. Attach this to the object, leaving a very slight line (about 1/16”) between the edge of the object and the place where the adhesive begins, and dry under weight with blotter and Hollytex as a barrier.
  5. When the hinges are secure and dry, the art can be attached to the mat using a crosspiece. Cut the crosspiece wider than the hinge on the object (it can be cut with straight/nonfeathered edges).
  6. Weight your object in place on the backboard, cushioned by blotter. Apply adhesive to the entire T cross hinge, and place it over the exposed hinge edge on the mat. Leave about 1/16” between the edge of the object and the beginning of the cross hinge.
  7. Dry under weight with Hollytex and blotter.
    graphic showing how to place a t-hingegraphic showing cross pieces pasted over hinges


If the artwork will need to be floated in the mat, you can use v-hinges which fold behind the object and do not show. The v-hinge is a single piece of mulberry paper that folds with one side of the v attached the object and the other side to the backboard. Note that this will necessarily be a weaker attachment than that provided by a t-hinge. Sometimes an additional v-hinge is put along each side of the piece, near the bottom for extra support. One method for applying v-hinges involves:

  1. Feather cut hinges.
  2. Place your artwork face down on the table and attach the hinges as with a t-hinge, making sure that the past line is low enough behind the art that the hinge will not show when folded behind. Weight and dry these.
  3. Fold the hinge along the top where it attaches to the piece, to the back so it makes a v shape.
  4. Position the artwork properly in the window mat and lightly weight or mark the position of the top edge corners lightly with pencil or pin marks. Fold out the v hinge, put blotter behind it, put paper or polyester over the artwork to provide a nice line and protection, and apply paste to the exposed hinge.
  5. Fold down and adhere the hinge to the backboard while raising the art up slightly. You will need a square of polyester film (Mylar) larger than the hinge to put between the hinge and the artwork to protect your piece while it is drying. With the art supported (or flipped over if possible) weight the hinges with blotter and Hollytex to dry.
  6. When the hinge is dry, you can add a cross piece of mulberry paper, as with the t-hinge to reinforce it. Flip up the object if possible, paste out the cross piece, and apply it over the hinge. Weight with blotter and Hollytex to dry, making sure the object is kept away from adhesive (or using a barrier).
    graphic showing structure of v-hinge

Alternatively, the v hinge can be folded under the artwork while it remains in place, carefully using tweezers to fold it in, and making sure a barrier (such as polyester sheeting) is in place while it dries. (This is often done when side v-hinges are added near the bottom for security).

Pass-through Hinges

In a mat where the art is floated, a pass-through hinge may be a more secure option than a v-hinge, especially for thicker or heavier items. In this variation, the hinge is attached to the art as for a T- or V-hinge, then slits are cut into the backboard (or a separate thin board that will be attached into the mat). The hinges slide through the slits and are then attached to the verso of the board.


There are a large variety of hinges available to suit particular pieces of art. String hinges or frayed edge hinges may be used for pieces that require more flexibility. Microdot application of adhesive to hinges may be used for pieces on which you would like to use the least amount of adhesive possible while still providing a solid attachment. To avoid having re-hinge artwork, hinging it to a two ply board that can be cornered into various mats and housings may be a good option.