It is important to frame your diploma as soon as possible, since aging can cause it to dry and curl over time. Mounting a sheepskin diploma is a necessary part of a quality framing process. Framing your diploma without mounting it may result in the diploma shriveling, shrinking or curling over time.
Some cautions for your consideration:
The following modern processes have been described at W&L's request by the Freeman-Victorius framing shop in Charlottesville, Virginia, in order to give you some appropriate ideas for taking care of your diploma. They recommend using the dry-mount method but have also provided a satisfactory wet-mount method. Both yield excellent results when done by a professional hand book binder, picture framer, or similar craftsperson. If you cannot locate someone in your area to handle your diploma with care, feel free to contact Freeman-Victorius.
Neither the company nor the University assumes responsibility for the framing process or results. For best results, "work clean and use the best materials."
Preparation of the mounting board for both methods
Use an off-white, 4-ply, 100% acid-free rag museum board for mounting. The board should be cut one inch wider and one inch longer than the actual diploma.
Place the board on a clean work area and be sure the board itself is clean and free of dust and other contaminants. Also, be sure to check the back of the diploma for soiled areas, removing any spots, fingerprints, etc.
Test the dry-mount press for the lowest melting point of the sealant to be used. We recommend Fusion 4000, a Seal, Inc. product. It should be around 160 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature at which the press should be set.
Place a piece of Fusion 4000 on top of the mounting board. It should be large enough to extend out from under the diploma by about one-eighth inch (1/8") all around. Then place the diploma face-up on top of the board and Fusion 4000.
Place a piece of release paper or a piece of clean brown kraft paper over the diploma and put the entire stack in the dry-mount press, face-up. The Washington and Lee University seal should be at the front of the press. Due to the nature of sheepskin and the embossing of the seal, you may see a small wrinkle caused by the seal. This small wrinkle should disappear during the mounting process. The press temperature should be about 160 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the melting point of the Fusion 4000.
The board-sealant-diploma-paper "sandwich" should be left in the press for approximately 30 seconds or until the Fusion 4000 has melted. This will be evident around the edge of the diploma. When this is completed, remove the "sandwich" from the press and remove the release paper from on top of the diploma.
Place the diploma on a clean, flat work area. Place a clean piece of brown kraft paper on top of the diploma and lay a large, flat, smooth weight over the entire diploma until it cools. After about ten minutes, the museum-quality mounting should be completed.
Wet-mount (wheatpaste) method
Place the diploma face down on a piece of brown kraft paper. The mounting board should be kept nearby for easy assembly.
Mix the wheatpaste according to directions on the container. The paste should be thick, heavy and smooth. Allow the paste to sit for about one hour before using.
Put a small amount of paste on your fingertips and begin applying it to the back of the diploma, working in small circular motions from the center out to all edges. The back should be covered uniformly with a thin layer of wet paste. If any areas have dried, wet paste should be reapplied. Massaging the paste in makes the diploma very pliable. CAUTION: Over-wetting the diploma by applying too much paste or getting paste on the front of the diploma can cause irreparable damage.
With clean, dry hands, place the diploma face up on the mounting board, exposing an even border of the board. Working again from the center out, push down and out with the palm of your hand to force out air and establish good contact. Great care should be taken not to damage the printing; you may use a small piece of kraft paper between your hand and the diploma.
Place a piece of acid-free rag paper on both sides of the mounted diploma. Then place a stack of 6-8 sheets of 4-ply board both above and below the diploma and a flat weight of about 20 pounds placed on top for up to ten days. This is a curing process; the 4-ply boards will slowly draw the moisture from the diploma, making a permanent bond. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO SPEED THE PROCESS WITH HEAT!
To offset the natural curling which occurs because the paste has only been applied to one side, you must follow with a counter-mounting procedure. This is done by first applying wheatpaste to the back of the mounting board on which the diploma is mounted. Place a piece of thin rag paper on top of the paste, making sure to rub out any air bubbles. The diploma, face down this time, is again placed between two stacks (6-8 sheets apiece) of 4-ply board with a flat weight on top. Drying time will be up to two days.
Matting and framing
We recommend matting the diploma with a 4-ply, 100% acid-free rag museum board and framing in a good quality wood frame under Tru-vue conservation glass. (This type of glass filters out 97% of damaging ultraviolet light rays.)