Making things pretty


Thursday, I took a break from printmaking and delved into another art, the art of matting. It would be fun to just pin prints to the wall, but galleries tend to frown on this. They do like images presented in a clean format with mat and frame.  I think this is the reason I don’t work exclusively in the 2D world. There really is an art to presenting work. During school, everyone learned how to cut mats and window openings plus framing. Being a perfectionist freak, I managed pretty well. Images were always placed with equal margins for both sides and top with the bottom margin being larger: 3″ was always the minimum size with 3.5″ for the bottom. Museum board became my preferred board choice due to the higher cotton content  which gave a smoother cut, but it was double the price.  The last time I did framing on a major scale was in 2003 during my senior exhibit. Was it really that long ago??  Now, 10 years later, I’m back in the same world. Frightening! For this show, I’ve budgeted about 2 days of work to cut, mount and frame all 12 images. Over the past two months, supplies have been gathered to accomplish the finishing touches. Frames ordered during discount times, the purchasing of museum board and receiving a discount to be used on my next purchase (if I could only find my alumni card to receive a discount during the purchase, that would be ideal!) and glass cut by a local shop.

Many people opt to have someone else do all that work for them. Personally, I think those folks have some pretty big bankrolls to be able to do that! Last fall I did a small test at a local shop: I had them cut a very basic mat for a small print (mat size 8″x10″ with a window of 4″x5″). It was perfectly centered on inexpensive board and cut in under 4 min using a computerized system.  With this perfection came a surprising charge of $10. Seriously? $10 will purchase a full Crescent  board 36″x40″, or covers half the expense of a full sheet of museum board. A full sheet will yield about 6 mats+, depending on how large or small you need. This doesn’t cover the back board, I’m just talking about the front window section.

So, rather than investing a large sum for someone else to cut mats and window openings,  I spent 6 hours cutting 12 mats with backs to my specific proportions. I’m out of practice and there were slight overcuts in some corners but hardly noticeable with the museum board. Was it a savings? In a way yes, since I controlled the pricing but the time spent was certainly a chunk.  A bit of time was saved by keeping a running list of the image size and dimensions required for each image. Part of the process is now complete with mounting and framing remaining. Glass still needs to be ordered on Monday. Oh, then there is the last few works to finish once supplies arrive next Tuesday. For now, I have a few more days to carve away on the last blocks completing Zeek and Rogue.

Taxes too… should be a fun weekend!


Published by paperstew

I'm an artist in Albany Oregon focusing on paper and natural objects for inspiration.

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