Presenting Polaroids Part 4: Framing the Icon

Note: The companion YouTube video can be found at the bottom of this post.

To my mind, there are two paths to framing Polaroid SX-70 prints. The first is to highlight the image, making it the focus of the framed print. This path will be considered in “Part 6: Framing The Image.” 

Today, I’ll delve into the second path: a celebration of the iconic form of the SX-70 photo, which includes not just the image area but the entire “frame” of the print as ejected from the camera. It’s an industrial design form that anyone, anywhere, can easily identify as a Polaroid. It is so embedded in our cultural psyche that it is still borrowed for countless advertising campaigns. Think of how rare that is.

The other feature of the SX-70 is its tactility. When it’s ejected from the camera, you grab it by the edges. Arguably, you can hold it while it develops. And 15 minutes later, you can pass it on to others to gaze upon the magic of an “instant” picture. There is a solidity to the object that feels good in the hand. It’s thicker, much thicker, than your average photo. And it seems to fit between the fingertips so naturally.

The first series I completed after being reintroduced to SX-70 photography in 2020 was “From Our Windows.” Right from the get-go, I was thinking about how I would eventually present these photos if I was to have a show someday.  I wanted to emphasize the images (of course) but also the iconic SX-70 form and the tactile, hand-holdable nature of an SX-70 photo.

It struck me that my SX-70 photos needed to float above the mount board and be held in place with finger-like mounting strips or corners, almost as if I’m holding the photo in my hand and saying to the viewer “Look at this!”

The solution I came up with, which includes a few variations and experiments, was to attach the SX-70 to an undercut piece of archival foam core using modified clear polyester mounting strips. The foamcore/image package is attached to a piece of conservation mat board sized to a frame. The frame has a spacer that separates the mat board and image from the glass. When assembled, the photo appears to float above the backing, held in place by the barely visible mounting strips, like it was being held by my fingertips.

Take a look at the video to see how I do this.

Bill of Materials:

Cutting mat and sharp Olfa-style knife

12” steel ruler

Bone folder (available from art supply stores) if using Lineco Mounting Strips (below)

Scrap SX-70 photo

½”-¾” masking tape

Small flat head screwdriver or cutlery knife

Clear Print Mounting Strips (10” strips, ½” channel fold) available from https://www.archivalmethods.com

or…

Lineco See-Thru Archival Mounting Strips available directly from Lineco https://www.lineco.com/see-thru-polyester-mounting-strips.html and most art stores.

Scotch Double-Sided Scrapbooking Tape available from Staples and others

or…

3M ATG Gold 908 Adhesive Transfer Tape and applicator available from https://www.talasonline.com/3M-ATG-Tape

A display case/shadow box frame with a minimum ¾” spacer between the glazing and mounting board, such as:

  • 9” x 9” Studio Décor White Belmont Shadow Box from Michael

4-ply conservation mat board sized to the frame dimensions

1 piece 3 ¼” x 4” 4-ply white conservation mat board

2  pieces 2 ½” x 3 ¼” x ⅛” or 3/16” acid-free foam core board (3/16” preferable)

More From Me:

Check out my SX-70 YouTube videos at https://www.youtube.com/c/WalkClickMake

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dfirman/

Firmangallery portfolio and store: https://www.firmangallery.com

One thought on “Presenting Polaroids Part 4: Framing the Icon

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s