How to Use a Burnishing Tool

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When artwork is to be attached to a rigid board surface it is often mounted using a micro-thin adhesive film. The film is sandwiched between the art and the mounting board and then a burnishing tool is applied to the artwork to seal and activate the adhesive between the two items. This type of burnishing tool looks a bit like a plastic or silicone spatula with the edges carefully honed smooth and shaped so that the burnishing process will not leave lines, creases or wrinkles on the artwork. This technique works for most types of artwork such as drawings, paintings, pen-and-ink work, watercolor, pastel. etc. You should not burnish photos as the tool may leave visible lines.

Things You'll Need

  • Artwork
  • Micro-thin adhesive film
  • Scissors
  • Mounting board
  • Burnishing tool
  • Position the micro-thin adhesive film on a clean table surface. Both sides of the film have a (silicone-permeated) release sheet with the adhesive film sandwiched in between the sheets.

  • Peel off the top release sheet and gently position the artwork face up so that the back of the artwork contacts the adhesive film. Usually you can reposition a little bit if you are careful.

  • Place the silicone-permeated release sheet (that you peeled off in Step 2) back over the face of the artwork and press gently with your hands to adhere the film to the artwork. Using the silicone-permeated sheet protects the front of your artwork while you are working. Set the silicone-permeated sheet aside.

  • Trim off any excess film with scissors. Turn the artwork and film face down. At this point the artwork and the film are adhered together. There is a second silicone-permeated release sheet on the back of the film.

  • Remove the second release sheet from the back of the (artwork/film). Turn the artwork face up and immediately position the artwork/film on the mounting surface. Some repositioning is possible if the artwork is handled carefully.

  • Burnish the artwork to the mounting surface by rubbing the flat surface of the burnisher over the artwork at a 45 degree angle. Work systematically from the top down so that the artwork and film adhesive are well bonded to the mounting surface.

Tips & Warnings

  • This type of hand-held burnishing tool is made in many sizes or widths and often the other end of the burnisher will have a burnishing ball, for use on projects where a rounded burnishing tool is more suited.
  • Film, mounting boards and burnishing tools are available at most art stores that carry framing supplies.
  • Do not burnish photographs as the burnishing process may leave lines that are visible. Burnish to hard surfaces, softer surfaces like foam core may leave lines or dimples.

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