1.19.2012

Unsticking Photos From Glass

First up, thanks so much for all your enthusiastic comments about Hannah's cRaZy closet color yesterday!  It's certainly a fun project to work on in the middle of winter, that's for sure!

You may know that I once had a little picture framing business, and since I get asked how-to questions by friends in real life, I thought I'd share some tips of the trade with you as well.  This one is an issue I have tackled in my own house:  unsticking photos from the glass inside a frame.

Photos stick to glass when moisture pokes it's nasty little head into the frame, causing the print emulsion to adhere to the glass.  This is common in areas of high humidity, like bathrooms, but it can happen anywhere in your house due to temperature changes throughout the year or even from cleaning the glass.
  To avoid photos from sticking to the glass in the first place:
do not spray cleaning solution directly onto a framed picture; instead, spray your rag and then wipe,
and if possible,
mat photos when framing so the photo doesn't come in direct contact with the glass.


Before taking any action to remove the picture, consider how old the photo is.
If it is one of a kind and precious, bring the into a photo lab and have it professionally removed.
Labs sometimes use a product called Photoflo that helps loosen the photo from the glass, and the technicians are trained to handle your photo safely.

If you want to try to remove the photo yourself,  make sure you have a backup copy.
If I don't have a digitial file, I use the Kodak Picture Maker at Target and find it makes a great copy.  This is cheaper than going to a photo shop and I have been very happy with the quality; in fact I have an entire wall of old black and white photos in my living room that were all copied at Target (more on framing copies versus originals in a later post!)

Please note that I have used the following method on photos produced in the 1960s to today, but I can't guarantee that it will won't damage your photos, so don't hold me liable if this doesn't work for you.  That being said, I have never ruined a photo using this method. :)


Can you see the white spots on the bottom of the picture?  That's where it's stuck to the glass and if I pull it, the photo will rip, and the glass with still have the emulsion stuck to it.
(never mind how dirty that glass is!  This picture was on the counter in our bathroom and apparently some product came it's way!)


In a pan of lukewarm water, place the photo and glass, making sure the photo is completely immersed.  Placing the photo facing up would be fine too.  Check the photo in an hour.  Some photos may soak off quickly, but if you get any resistance to the photo coming off the glass, put it back into the water.  The shorter you keep the photo in water the better; some photos may break down over an extended period.
That being said, this photo is about 8 years old and I ended up soaking it for 5 days!  I checked it a couple times a day and it just wasn't budging, but on the last day it just came right off the glass and there was no damage to the photo.

After removing the photo from the glass, prop it up on your counter and let dry for an hour or so.  
Don't rub or pat the water off of it or you'll damage the finish of the photo. 
After the water has evaporated from the surface of the photo, it will still be damp.  Place it in between the pages of a heavy book for a day to make sure it doesn't curl.

Now the photo is free and the glass in the frame is usable again!

I hope you found this tutorial helpful if you have this sticky problem too!



I'm linking up this tutorial to these great parties - come join!




5 comments:

Dixie Sargent Redmond said...

Oh, I needed this tip!

cestMoi Sandy said...

You know Lisa, I have had this wedding photo of ours... just precious and of course it is stuck to the glass. I tried and tried I also needed to get a different frame for the photo. And I wanted a copy of it. But since it was stuck... well... I left it that way... stuck.
I have to say though that I kinda freaked out when I read that you left it in WATER!
That is what got my photo to stick (i was thinking)... well... since you tried... I will give it a try to. If it does not work - (I know where you live! (hahahahah) You know I am kidding right?)

I will let you know...
to be continued...
Thanks for sharing!

Kelly @ View Along the Way said...

Great tip! I had no idea you could put photos in water safely!

classic • casual • home said...

Super helpful...I have wrecked photos before trying to get them off.

Bob Gabriel said...

I like this helpful info. I was trained in photojournalism, and processed many photographs IN WATER. That's how you develop the old pre-digital photos, in water and chemicals. Thanks guys...Bob Gabriel, BookBrains Bookmarks