Cheap framing and matting for my solo show.
Well, I got a solo show.
It isn't much. Just a show in a university gallery, but I had to compete for it and it is a start.
Due to some nasty time constraints, I am under the gun for this one. Since I am leaving the country in two weeks, I need to get my stuff together now, as the show is two weeks after I get back.
My big problem is matting and framing. I have no matting experience (the UofA has ONE matte cutter and it is so bend I call it Quasimoto due to the mighty hump in the middle of the bar the blade runs along...It is useless,) and no real framing experience.
But it can't be that hard to frame can it?
So here is the deal...
I will have 10 16x20s to frame. I figure I will buy premade mattes. Don't have much of a choice. I will then mount them in 22x28 frames.
Now, how to do this quickly and in an idiot proof way?
WHo is the best to get good, cheap mattes and frames from?
And does anyone in the AZ area want to help show me how to do this right?
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Are your prints mounted? If so, you don't absolutely have to mat them although that is preferred. The main function of matting is to prevent contact between the glazing and the print surface. Depending on how long the prints remain framed, and the humidity, contact can damage the surface of the print. If you don't intend to leave the prints framed for very long, then you could take the chance of not matting them.
It's relatively easy to cut mats. I use a Logan 1000 mat cutter - less than $10 at most art supply shops. Be sure to pick up an extra couple of packages of blades - the thing that is most likely to cause problems cutting mats is dull blades, so replace them frequently.
The second thing you will need to cut your mats is something to put behind the mat as your are cutting it. Ideally, a sheet of mat board - but mat board is expensive. Perhaps a sheet of less expensive mat board. I am currently using a sheet of "homosote" from the building supply store.
You will also need a good straight edge. Emphasis on the word good. I am using a Logan straight edge that I picked up at a garage sale. What you need is something that is straight, fairly wide (so you can press you hand down on it to hold it against the board as you are cutting), and that won't flex. Frankly, a scrap of MDF - say 3" wide and however long you need (probably 3') will do a nice job provided the cutting edge is really straight.
And practice. Expect to ruin the first couple of mats - so perhaps you should practice on some smaller prints first (smaller mats).
Now, frames. The best prices for good quality frames is mail order. I have used American Frame many times - their prices are good, they have a great selection, and their service is excellent.
But if you are on a budget, you may be able to find some inexpensive black aluminum frames at an art supply shop. The frames I am thinking of look like the good quality sectional frames from American Frame, but actually are a fixed sized - they don't screw together at the corners. My sense is that they won't last as long (those screw-together metal frames can be reused many times - just insert new work, retighten the corners, and you are good to go), but for your first show, they may be good enough.
Glazing is a choice -- the traditional choice is glass, but in the size you are talking about the glass will be heavy and expensive, and it wears out each time you drop a frame. Plexiglass is lighter and non-breakable, but it attracts dust like crazy. You pay your money and take your choice. Either would come from a glass shop, and you would have to order it in advance and have them cut it to size - check to see how long they will take to determine what fits your schedule. If you use glass, be sure to clean it thoroughly and let it dry completely before assembling your frames.
Good luck with your show.
First, congratulations on your show. No matter how much you want to downplay it, you earned it and it is a great feeling. Don┤t fight Quasimodo. Buy pre-cut mats. You must be closer to a source than I am, although by the description of your location, you live close to my mother-in-law. With 10 images to frame, practice mat-cutting later; focus on learning mounting and framing. I order my matboards from Light Impressions, but I┤m sure any APUGgers living close to Inferno will be able to point you to a closer source. Good luck with your show !
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AC Moore carries a black wood line by Timeless frames. A 22x28 complete with glass (the glass is very dirty stuff, I iusally replace with new washed/papered glass b/c I am lazy) for around 20usd each. They may need a few days notice as their level is probably only 4-6. Otherwise, as mentioned above, you can do the prefab metal or Nielson's 11-21 sectionals for a similar price.
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If I were you I would keep it simple. Buy 20x24 precut mats with the 16x20 window, get 20x24 frames from american frame and put together your show. Afterwards you can worry about learning to mat. It is not difficult, but it does require some practice.
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Though a little farther from your home, Documounts (www.framecentral.com) does good work and has what you need. I've used them for pre-cut mats for some fifteen years now.
Make sure you know what size the window of your mat will be and how it will be positioned (weighted or not). I used to weight mine, but found in the end it didn't make much difference and was a pain at times. With a window centered exactly in the mat, you can use it for horizontal and vertical images (if your prints all have the same dimensions).
If you plan on having the mat overlap the print, allow at least 1/8 inch on each side (shrinking the window overall 1/4 inch in both directions). If you plan on having the white of the paper show, you'll need a bigger window by 2x the border in each direction.
I have done this 3 or 4 times now. Congratulations! Nothing more fun than seeing the combined effect of your prints on a display wall. I bought a Fletcher mat cutter, cheap and simple. American Frame is the place to get simple aluminum Neilsen frames. A 22X28 is about 11 and a half bucks. They're easy to assemble and they've got some kind of special going where you get a mat with each frame. Glazing is always a pain in the butt for me because I live in such a rural place there's no cheap close glass. Best of luck and hope you'll share some snapshots of the finished show.
Robert- I too live in Tucson and go to UofA. Contact me ASAP and I will help you okay.
I'm with Jim. American Frames is pretty cheap and they have that deal where they will custom cut your mats for you. Hard to beat.
That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
If you buy glass, you can buy clean glass in a box for cheaper than hand-cut glass. You can order a box of Tru Vue glass from your local glass shop. Saves a huge amount of time by not having to clean the glass (much) before framing. I think it is around $50 for 12 sheets of 22x28, depending on where you are located.