Bent art photo fix?
October 26, 2007 9:10 AM   Subscribe

I have an art quality photographic print with a crease through the image (*$#% USPS). Short of seeking professional help, is there any way tried and true way to get it out? I'm very wary of destroying the image, so I'm not going at it with an iron. And strategic matting won't fix the problem. Surely there's something I haven't thought of?
posted by B-squared to Media & Arts (11 answers total)
Color or Black and White? Do you know what kind of paper it is? (resin coated, like kind of plasticy, or regular paper, more fibery)

The only color printing I've done is with a machine. Black and white, though, I've done tons by hand. For most of the process, the print is wet (through the developing process, then washing for quite a while), then it's usually air-dried, then it's pressed.

So I'd probably soak it in distilled water, dry it, and press it. This MAY have adverse effects, especially if the print was touched up after it was dry, to fix any little dust spots or what not. You probably don't have access to the kind of press that a photographer uses... I have used an iron before but it's not easy. I'd put the photo image-side down on something like an ironing board with a thin cloth over it, then some kind of thin cloth over the back of the image, and use pretty low heat. I've never done this to try to get creases out, I did it to fix some corner-curling. A *little* moisture sometimes helps.

The thing is, if it can be fixed by a method like this, then a pro can do it really fast and easy. I'd probably try a few seconds in a press first, and if no dice, then I'd re-wash it, dry it, and press it. These things are alll soooooooo much easier with the right equipment.
posted by RustyBrooks at 9:34 AM on October 26, 2007

The highest quality scan you can get at Kinko's or some other place with a scanner that's large enough, fix the crease in Photoshop, and print again on high quality paper? This would be expensive and time consuming, but it's something to consider if any fiddling with the physical print doesn't work.
posted by maudlin at 9:34 AM on October 26, 2007

was the print insured through shipping? you may be able to get USPS to reimburse you. since it is a print and not something like a one-off painting, you could contact the artist and request another print
posted by cubby at 9:37 AM on October 26, 2007

Thanks guys.

A bit of further information: it is a color print on glossy, thicker, but regular feeling paper (not plastic). So Rusty, from your answer it sounds like this may be a fairly routine process for a professional. Should I just contact someone who knows what they're doing?

The problem with making a copy is that it's a signed and numbered print and I'd prefer to salvage the original.

If it comes to it, I will contact USPS and the artist. He's in England though, so it's not as easy as it seems.
posted by B-squared at 9:58 AM on October 26, 2007

I'd contact a photographic fine art gallery for tips, they must run into this regularly.
posted by artdrectr at 10:34 AM on October 26, 2007

You should definitely contact the post office if it was insured. Since it isn't a one of a kind but a multiple carriers will usually insure them. And if it was, use the money to buy another print from the artist.

I'm a photographer and it is very hard to get out a crease. It will always be there and you will know it. Besides, contacting a professional to fix it right (a paper conservator at the very least) will be very expensive.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 10:50 AM on October 26, 2007

It occurs to me that if the photographer is a pretty reasonable guy, he might be able to get you a replacement at a not-too-high cost. The cost of an art print is obviously not based on either the materials or time involved, but rather on a more subtle scale. If someone had bought a print from me for what I considered a reasonable cost, and it was damaged in transit, I think I would agree to give them a new one at the approximate cost to me. I might want the damaged one back or proof that it was destroyed. I'm selling the art, not the piece of paper it's printed on, you know?

As to whether it's possible to get out, I guess it depends on how bad it is. I have a mounted picture in my house that has a crease in it, but it's not too bad. The picture was stored in a large envelope with another set of pictures that were smaller, and it creased along the edge of the smaller picture. I mounted it without a mat, between 2 sheets of glass, which presses it flat, and it's very difficult to tell it's there. If you're talking about something more like a *fold* it might be a lost cause.

But still, I'd be surprised if washing/drying/pressing would not significantly reduce the problem.
posted by RustyBrooks at 11:24 AM on October 26, 2007

You might try taking it to a place that does custom printing, scanning and other photographic services. From your profile it looks like you're on the east coast, I don't know the names of places there. I'm not talking about like a walmart or something, but a place that pros go to to get prints made, etc. Show them the picture and see what someone thinks. They might even be able to give you an estimate, and you can decide if it's worth it. Or, they'll look horrified and tell you it's unsalvageable. Either way, you'll know.
posted by RustyBrooks at 11:28 AM on October 26, 2007

Normal color prints are made on a resin coated base, not fiber. If you are talking about a modern print then most likely it is an ink-jet on archival paper. Do not get ink-jet prints wet!!! Really you should get professional help.
posted by JJ86 at 12:27 PM on October 26, 2007

Honestly, if it is a limited edition signed print, I'd file a claim with UPS and have them buy me another print. Don't try any do it yourself things before filing a claim. As someone else noted, you will always know the crease was there and any value you hope to retain from a signed limited edition will be lost on a botched fix-it job. UPS will want to inspect the packaging and the print. Good luck!
posted by 45moore45 at 1:19 PM on October 26, 2007

This is the procedure that the Historical Collections in my state uses when they need to flatten something.

1. Buy two garbage pails, one big enough to contain the paper item and another that is big enough to contain the first garbage pail and has a lid.

2. Fill the bottom of pail #2 with water and place pail #1 inside.

3. Place the paper inside pail #1, loosely rolled and close lid of pail #2.

4. Check on the paper daily. When the item is hydrated and flexible, take it out and lay it on the flat surface.

5. Press the paper with a flat item on top, like a piece of glass, that covers the paper completely. Weight it with some bricks or heavy books.

6. Wait, remove, enjoy.
posted by Foam Pants at 3:39 PM on October 26, 2007

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