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:
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:
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).
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.