Vaughn, I know you well enough to have confidence that if it weren't going to look good, you'd change it so it would. Your prints and mattes are simply gorgeous.
What I find hard to take is that I have heard many teaching colleagues give students oversimplified guidance. The problem, really, is that when a student's work looks crummy, it tends to discourage. -- Nevermore, though, I've just retired.
I agree with you about taping and especially your mention of "t" hinges. Rembrandt used them for a reason, as have most printmakers since.
Another question from BetterSense: "Is it ok to have the matte touch the print, or should I space it up a bit?"
I don't think spacing between the matte and the backboard or the margin around the print would look very good, and really don't see what its benefit might be. The visual problem, I think, would be that as the print develops a topography, as it will unless it's drymounted, the shadow of the matte on the print will look irregular and no doubt very distracting. I imagine there could be a problem if you really wedged your print tight into the frame so that the matte was pressed so tightly against the print that the open area had nowhere to go when it expands; then it might "puff" out. I've never had a problem with it.
The purpose of framing is not merely presentation; it should protect the print from chemicals in the atmosphere, bugs, etc. Ideally, the package should be hermetically sealed.
The nice thing about dry mounting was the nice flat print. The not nice thing is that the print is married to the board so that its fate is dependent upon what happens to the board down the road. When prints are not dry mounted, they can be rematted. Also, who really knows how those tissues hold up over time? Do they decompose, contributing harmful chemicals which will degrade the work? Museums prefer prints to be hung in the mattes with the "t" hinges as is customary with other kinds of prints for both of these reasons. Real art supply places stock acid free tape. I don't know about Michael's. Why do I doubt? I prefer the "Likkum Stickum" type over the pressure sensitive type. Maybe I'm just displaying my oft-noted Ludditic tendencies.
Check out the red Ansel Adams book which has a section on mounting. I try to standardize, e.g. matting 11x14 paper on 16x20 board. Sometimes I use 11x14 paper but end up with a 10x10 print but still use the same size board. That way I can order the matboard, frames, tissue, etc. in bulk and get discounts. I simplay adjust the placement of the print on the board to account for the size difference. I think it looks nice if you have a number of prints - each one might be a unique size but they are all hung at the same height (a real time saver) and look good.
One trick which I use is to cut a slice of matboard of thickness equal to the top of the mat board to the top of the print. So if the print is vertical on a 16x20 board and the top of the print is 3.5 inches from the top of the board I cut a 3x5 x 16 inches long. Then I pencil in small markings every 1/8 inch from the sides of the board and larger markings at 1/2 and 1 inch increments. Then place the mat board jig on top of the mat board and align the two with a straight edge, secure, and place the print (already tacked with tissue) on the board and center using the pencil markings on the jig so that the distance is equal on both sides. Then tack down the paper and everything is centered.
Zone VI used to make a dry mount jig with a wood base and a T-Square with markings which was nice but I never use mine anymore and make my own jigs.
I purchased a Logan 450 a few years back and have liked it a lot. I know that Fletchers are better, but the cost difference is pretty big. Of course, if you find a good deal on a used one, that would be great. I would also think that the 750 would be even better, and it is not all that much higher. I got mine from FramersIsland.com and their service was great. One really nice feature of the 450 and 750 is that they come with a straight cutter as well, for cutting large mats down to size. If you get 40% off from Michaels, that will be a really good price, but Framers Island has the 750 for $249 with free shipping, so probably about the same price and you don't have to wait, hunt for coupon, etc. (I have no relationship with this company other than having bought something from them once.)
Although I have a pretty decent Logan matt cutting set, including a 1 meter long guide rail and large cutting mat, I absolutely HATE cutting mattes.
Like you, I don't print standard sizes at all, and it is tiresome to have to measure out mattes each time and cut them (and hope for the best the cutting went well and straight, and that none of the corners remains stuck).
I recently discovered there is actually an art shop in Amsterdam, pretty close by for me, that has a fully computerized matt cutting setup! Just tell them the outside and inside sizes, a possible vertical displacement, and your done...
Best of all, they cut mattes for an incredibly low price (+/- 6 euro for 40x50 cm), that is the matte + cutting! And discount on bulk! Considering that matte paper by itself is already very expensive (in the range of 12-16 euros for a 70x100 cm sheet here in the Netherlands), this is a bargain.
I have decided I will outsource much of the stuff in the future there , it's just not worth the effort for that price.
Last edited by Marco B; 10-15-2009 at 05:37 PM. Click to view previous post history.
"The nineteenth century began by believing that what was reasonable was true, and it wound up by believing that what it saw a photograph of, was true.
" - William M. Ivins Jr.
"I don't know, maybe we should disinvent color, and we could just shoot Black & White.
" - David Burnett in 1978
"Analog is chemistry + physics, digital is physics + math, which ones did you like most?
I disagree, although I might have a different opinion if I were cutting mats every day in large quantities. For those who don't I think they're quite serviceable.
Originally Posted by Shadow Images
The real joy of cutting one's own mats (or, if you've just got too much money to spend, having them cut for you) is that you are free to make the photograph exactly the size (read "crop") that you want it to be rather than printing to conform to a pre-cut size. I've found it a very liberating experience, and not particularly difficult to learn and do well if you practice.
I suppose the era of wholesale dumping of gear and equipment specific to analog photography is over, but there are still bargains to be had on dry mount presses I would think. They are absolutely worth it as a way to complete the presentation process. Give it a go...you'll be happy you did.
(None of the above is rocket science...don't be timid on that score...it just aint that difficult to do well.)
BTW, do not skip DW Thomas's link to the optical print centering site. It's the only tool I use to decide exactly what I will do with my print/overmat measurements.
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What is also nice is the pencil-lead scribe that fits some Logan cutters. Set the border width on the scribe and run the cutter along side the mat board and it draws the line for you. No muss, no fuss.
At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.
I disagree with this strongly as well.
Almost every schools darkroom I've been in has several of these and they get used, daily, believe me.
They are tough and get the job done.
Invest the money now and get a good Logan and the only thing you'll ever need going forward is razors.
If you have no need for it anymore, put it on craigslist. It'll go pretty fast.
Originally Posted by jovo
I think it depends on how many mats you need to cut. I cut a lot, so the Fletcher 2000, with the squaring arm was the right decision. I buy 32x40 inch boards, trim them to size, and use the production stops, which really speeds up the cutting process. The windows which are removed are trimmed to a smaller size, which gives me more use out of the board.
The particular print in question, and all prints I make right now, are RC prints, so this shouldn't be a problem I think. I understand that prevailing opinion is that fiber base paper is the way, the truth, and the light, but I have no plans to start working with it any time soon.
The visual problem, I think, would be that as the print develops a topography, as it will unless it's drymounted, the shadow of the matte on the print will look irregular and no doubt very distracting. I imagine there could be a problem if you really wedged your print tight into the frame so that the matte was pressed so tightly against the print that the open area had nowhere to go when it expands; then it might "puff" out. I've never had a problem with it.
I'm still leaning toward buying a Dexter-type hand-cutter right now, while I keep my eye out for a good, better-than-the-cheap-24"-model matte cutter. I don't have time to shop around for a used one and I really only have one matte to cut right now. Plus a hand cutter won't take up any more precious apartment space.