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The Mystery of Matting Pictures

21 March 2010 No Comment

You have just spent a great weekend shopping art galleries and found the perfect picture for your living room, bedroom, or maybe a wall in your office.  It is exactly what you were looking for, and you were able to acquire it at a price that put it within your budget.  Now, you want to frame it.  Typically there are 2 reactions to this.  Either, you say, “this is a piece of cake, I can do this” or you might say “oh my God, what do I do now”.  The ”I CAN DO ANYTHING PERSON” soon finds out that buying the stuff at the hobby store doesn’t work because your art is not a standard size, and nothing fits.  Even if it fits, the realization is that the choices are very, very limited.  The “OH MY GOD PERSON” is now in full blown panic mode.   Who knew it would be this complicated?

Posts in this category will concentrate on different areas of picture framing.  The goal is to better educate the purchasing public on how to get art framed and, in some cases, offer a little help on picking the right art.  This particular post will concentrate on matting.  Besides the art itself, it is many times the next thing that is seen.

Mats were originally made and used to protect the art from the glass, or glazing, as it is sometimes called.  Without the mat, the art could permanently be damaged by the glass.  A single mat will normally set the art about 1/16” away from the glass.  As picture framing has evolved, it has become much more.  It has become an integral part of the appearance of the custom framing job.  In some cases it can be more relevant than the art itself.

The first consideration is the type or composition of the mat.  Typically 2 types are available; paper and acid free.  If the art and framing job is for a short term project or just a cheap decoration, paper mats may be sufficient.  They do have a better price point and can be helpful when staying in a budget.  However in most cases, it is recommended that acid free mats be used.  Acid free mats, while more costly, are composed of materials that are free of chemicals and materials that will damage the art over time.  Consider this for a moment.  Does it make sense to pay $100 for a piece of art and put it in a frame with paper mats to save $8-10?  Truth is after a few months, the chemicals in the paper mat will begin to turn the art yellow and nullify any value it may have had.Pena - Custom Art and Framing Example

Secondly, consider whether a single, double, or even triple mat makes sense.  Multiple mats have the potential to truly accent the piece of art if the correct colors are used.  Color is critical in selection of mats.  Generally, a rule of thumb for picking mat colors is to go dark, light, dark.  This means that if the frame is dark, go with a light top mat, and a dark bottom mat.  There are tons of exceptions to this.  The most obvious being special colors that are meaningful to the art itself or perhaps to the person.  One big thing to remember when selecting mat colors is that you will be looking at the art for a fairly long period of time.  Don’t get over creative with wild colors or you may not like the art after a period of time.  It is, after all, still about the art and not the mat.

Many creative mat cutouts and designs are also available.  They can add character and a special touch to the overall appearance such as this Pena print with artistically designed cutouts in the mat to add a touch of Santa Fe to the appearance.

Remember, custom picture framing is not as easy as it looks.  It is recommended that you consider having a professional picture framer work with you.  Visit TurnKey Art Solutions website to learn more about custom art and framing.

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