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Mounting style

Posted by Henry Barwood  
Mounting style
December 10, 2008 03:14AM
I'm curious how many mounters:

1. Mount for maximum visual impact
2. Slap that sucker in a box and take a photo

I'm the No. 2 type mounter. I trim a specimen until I can see, and photograph, a specific mineral and then mount it in a box so that it is protected from dust and damage. My primary objective is to orient the specimen for maximum photographic impact, but I'm indifferent to excess matrix, etc.

Yes, I know real micromounters are the No. 1 type!

avatar Re: Mounting style
December 10, 2008 04:15AM

Most of my micros would fall into your second category and are in thumbnail boxes. I have a few true micromounts. Some of my micros are miniatures as I do not want to destroy the associations on the piece.

avatar Re: Mounting style
December 11, 2008 04:20PM
I guess I am closer to the first group than the second. I spend time triming and orienting the specimen on the peg. My goal is to have the crystal that is emphasized even with the top of the box, and approximately centered. I am not much into photography.
avatar Re: Mounting style
December 11, 2008 04:44PM
I am 50/50. Smaller specimens that fit into a 7/8ths box get mounted. For the rest I just use the proper sized box, mostly the "euro" box. I use the paper inserts for my true mounts so that when its time to photograph it I have no problem removing it from the box.
avatar Re: Mounting style
December 13, 2008 06:24AM
I probably mount mainly for visual impact. Small specimens I tend to do the "proper job" of permanent mounting on a cork pedestal, but in recent years I've become a bit lazy with slightly bigger pieces which I mount on the dreaded mineral tack directly on the bottom of the box. I rarely photograph specimens of this size at the moment but would like to get into that when I have a little more time (i.e. a project for retirement I suspect).
avatar Re: Mounting style
December 13, 2008 09:15AM

I am the second type. I trim the specimen down until it fits into a box, then mount it on mineral tack. To me, the paragenesis is more important than a single xl nicely mounted. Most of my objects are far too small for mounting them ´without matrix.


Sebastian Möller
avatar Re: Mounting style
December 13, 2008 07:55PM
Sebastian, I almost never mount a crystal free of matrix. I agree that the associations and what they say for the paragenesis is important. And ;like yours most are too small to mount if they were not in matrix.

For some time, I have had some beta quartz xls that are free (floaters). They are exceedingly tiny and I have yet to figure out how I want to mount them. I will probably end by mounting one on the end of a steel brush bristle.
avatar Re: Mounting style
December 13, 2008 09:41PM

Another kind of mounting becomes more and more important to me: small loose xls put only into the box without actual mounting. I have some specimen of this kind, mostly heavy minerals (gold, zircon, monazite) from panning in river sands and some nice pyrochlore and magnesioferrite xls from carbonatite. In a box I have mostly about hundreds of small xls, so mounting them would be a hell of work.

In Germany mounting of specimen on needles or brush bristles is quite uncommon. We mostly use mineral tack only.


Sebastian Möller
Re: Mounting style
December 14, 2008 02:56AM
It's heartbreaking to lose a lovely crystal because you want the specimen to fit a particular size of box. So my motto is: "If it's too big for the box, use a bigger box". I am more of the micro sticker kind of person rather than a true micro mounter.
Re: Mounting style
December 14, 2008 03:05AM
I’m glad to know that there are a variety of mounting styles, and that I’m not alone!

One note: I mount my specimens in the lid of the boxes and they hang upside down. This tends to discourage pesky dust accumulations.

When mounted in the lid, I can orient the specimen using my two axis stage (a lazy-Susan bearing and half a tennis ball!) so that optimum imaging of the crystal(s) can take place.

I also use hot glue for mounting. Yes, I know it produces pesky threads, but it is also a relatively instant mount and I have never had a specimen detach since I started using it. My only wish would be for a micro dispenser that would be easier to use with small specimens.

Re: Mounting style
December 14, 2008 04:23AM
Its enjoyable to hear about all of the different mounting techniques. Being a micromounter, I have seen many different styles and have learned a lot from observing other techniques. More important to me is the quality of the specimen, is it damaged, will it stay preserved, and most of all, is the label done well. If you can't read the label, if the locality information is poor or wrong, and if the specimen id is wrong, then how it is mounted seems to be less important.

avatar Re: Mounting style
December 14, 2008 05:24AM
I'm beginning my quest into micromounting and these types of posts are great (wish there was more of them). If anyone is willing upload pics of their methods that would be helpful for a beginner like me. I'm starting from scratch, so to speak. I also hope to get a scope in early 2009.

Also, I bought some micros at a show recently and it almost looks like their mounted on clear thumbtacks. Is this a method? I don't want to pull the package apart to find out (foam is glued to the base).

Happy hunting.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/14/2008 05:26AM by Bryan Manke.
Re: Mounting style
December 14, 2008 03:21PM
Don and Sebastian,

I remember the old foram mounts that were slides (paper, I think - in aluminum holders) that had wells in them. You put the forams in the wells and then covered the whole thing with a specially cut coverslip. They were sealed in, but you could examine them with a scope. I don't even know if they still make them, but it seems to me that an insert for a micro box could be made that would house a loose crystal (or crystals) so you could view/image them, but they wouldn't just rattle around in a a large box. I'm way beyond the days when I could mount a crystal on a hair of some sort without a disaster ensuing! I has been years since I mounted mineral fragments on needles to examine on the spindle stage and that was nerve wracking.

avatar Re: Mounting style
December 14, 2008 04:40PM

You can still obtain foram mounts, but for some specimens, a microscope slide with a ring-mount is excellent - attach the specimen using Gum Arabic, and then seal with a cover slip. You can even get different depths of ring.

When you invited me to see your etchings, I didn't expect to
see so much degraded quartz. Really.
Re: Mounting style
December 15, 2008 12:46AM
I am definitely a type 1 mounter by this division. In fact, I was holding a mount I was gluing in one hand and typing
with the other when I found this thread! My aim is to make a permanent mount and to strive to make the best mounts
that I can make. Mineral tack is for temporary storage, and frankly is not the ideal media even for that. I was just
mounting a piece of Creaseyite that had been sold to me on tack, and the tack had liquefied and made a huge mess
(and that isn't the first time I have seen that happen). I would rather buy/trade material that has been white glued
on cardboard and soak in water to dissolve the glue off (I have 3 pieces in a little bowl of water right now doing just

But -- it is GREAT to see discussion of mounting techniques on this forum! I use balsa for pegs and taper with
a sharp knife and blacken with india ink applied with a small artists brush. I then set these on top of a vent on my
desk lamp to dry and they are ready to go as soon as I finish shaping the next one. I use a high quality white glue
like weldbond or "tacky glue" to mount on the pegs and in the box (I use paper liners). It does take time. I have 7
mounts done this afternoon, 2 in progress and another couple getting ready, so that is 10 mounts in an afternoon,
and they still need to be trimmed to length, glued into the box and labelled. But I have been doing other things as
well (chores around the house, fussing with my pet birds, not just mounting non-stop). I suppose I have just convinced
a bunch of people to keep using mineral tack. I guess it is the difference between putting a photo on your wall with
thumbtacks and having it mounted on foam-board and framed. For me it is definitely how I want to do it.
Re: Mounting style
December 15, 2008 02:05AM
Hi Tom,

Actually, I hate mineral tack! I generally store my micros in small plastic bags with the locations and suspected identification written on the bag. I rip apart a lot of material and remove anything that looks odd or photogenic. I ususally give each specimen an initial +, -, * or ** for rarity and potential for photography. Sometimes that rating changes when I find better material. Once I've accumulated a bunch of specimens, I pick out the ones I want to work with and mount them. The rest are safe until I need research material. Some specimens of a delicate nature get stored in boxes until I can mount them, but the plastic bags are surprisingly gentle on micromounts.

avatar Re: Mounting style
December 15, 2008 03:53PM
Allyson, ring mounts make a lot of sense for small loose crystals. I think I will give it a try. The only disadvantage I can see is that orienting crystals to see some of the forms or perspectives might be difficult to impossible.

Tom, I use balsa pegs also, but I have found that using a permanent felt marker is a lot easier than India ink for coating them. I buy the balsa in about 30 inch lengths, coat all four sides, and then chop them into approximate length. I use different sizes so I seldom have to taper a peg.

Henry, I agree with you! I don't like mineral tack either. Also, it has a tendency to dry out over time.

A friend of mine uses a glue called "484 Tacky Bond" and mounts really small stuff on short pieces of covered steel fishing leader. He says that he needs to just touch the end of the leader to a drop of glue and then to the crystal and it is an instant bond. I have been going to order some ot the Tacky Bond, but like a lot of things, haven't done it yet.
Re: Mounting style
December 16, 2008 09:46PM
I don't photograph my micros, so I guess I fall into mounting type #1.
When I have a batch of tiny xls or grains to mount, I punch out a piece of heavy paper stock of the appropriate size, give it a very thin coating of glue, let that dry just a little so that its tacky but not gooey, and then either sprinkle the xls onto the surface, or alternatively, lightly press the glued surface onto the xls. The paper circle with the xls is mounted to a pedestal of the proper height, and there you go. When done properly, you don't even see the glue after it has dried.

For pedestals, I use strips of neoprene rubber, which I get from a friend who makes conveyor belts. The rubber strips are about 1/2 inch wide at the base, and taper up to a rounded top about 3/4 inch high. The rubber is easy to cut with an xacto knife, and its already black, so there is no need for painting.

However, I have to say that I have been using mineral tack for years, with no real problems. An occasional mount has become loose and fallen off its pedestal, but this is the exception, rather than the rule. It generally doesn't hold well on an earthy/powdery matrix. That's when the glue comes out.
avatar Re: Mounting style
December 18, 2008 09:14AM
You can mount you specimens how ever you want, but unless the end result is attractive with good visual impact, and this means having well written or machine printed labels, the chances are good that when you die your collection will be much more likely thrown out in the trash. If you store your collection in beer flats, the chances of it just being thrown out in the trash are high as well.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
avatar Re: Mounting style
December 18, 2008 04:00PM
Rock, I agree. I do all my labels with my computer. The problem I run into with micro labels is that I can't get as much info on them as I would like. Currently, I place the principle label on the bottom of the box, a small strip with the name of the mineral on the top, and a third small strip with the catalog number on the side that gives the best view when placed towards the viewer.

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