Gray Digital Bevel Cut Borders|
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Print Mounting Advice
Art including photography has traditionally been sold already matted and mounted in a frame. For my initial business operations, I have decided to offer my mail order prints, only un-matted and un-framed. This is to simplify efforts at my end. Consequently customers will need to either have a framing business or gallery mount the prints or do the framing themselves. There are professional art framing businesses in cities everywhere. Most framing businesses will have experience mounting paintings, portraits, and small photographs but some will not be familliar with framing large photographic art, especially with archival materials and techniques. Beware of high volume framers of posters and inexpensive art one often sees in malls. If one is not already familliar with local framing businesses in their area, one can easily locate such by simply looking in their local community phonebook under art and framing or search for such on the internet with Yahoo Yellow Pages. The following is the site for the Professional Picture Framers Association. On their home page look for the "Find A Framer Search" field then on the subsequent search page, enter your zip code in order to get a local listing of professional framing shops in your area or beyond. One ought to only use framers that agree to compensate a customer for any damage occurring while media is in their possession. Professional framers will confidently be able to accept that because it is easy to safely handle prints when one has developed skill to do so regularly.
The first task after contacting a framer will be to present the print to them for inspection and removal. It is important to have the framer carfully open the shipping tube and inspect the print while in the customer's presence. That is so both parties know at handoff that the print has not been damaged, particularly in regards to crinkling. I would encourage bringing along the handling instructions and print information sheet and to give them to the framer for borrowing just to be clear what is expected. A framer will also likely have advice and comments once they see the nature of the print. A framing business is going to need some simple information to determine what service and materials they will require to frame a photographic print. These are typical questions they may ask:
A framer would likely be pleased to accept numbers in the print dimensions link as is because calculating mat dimensions is prone to mistakes. The artwork size plus mat size will determine the external frame size. There has been considerable improvement in art conservation techniques in recent years, which would improve on my basic outlined frame below in several ways a professional framer would certainly be able to discuss. One must be aware that any art could be framed very expensively or very cheaply. Cheap framing would certainly mean using non-archival materials that may shorten the lifespan of the print to much less than the 60 or more years expected. More professional framing shops are more likely to have air cleaners and dust control in their shops that reduces the amount of dust that gets inside framed work during assembly. Expect to spend more for the framing than for the price of these unmounted prints. Expensive methods would protect the print well and add to its perceived aesthetic. Extensive framing information is freely available at art framing business sites on the internet.
The most traditional mounting technique would use a silver section metal frame likely from Nielson-Bainbridge, with a single archival off-white mat board. The print would be T-hinged to the back top side of the mat. In front of the mat, thus offset from contact with the photograph, a thin 0.125 inch thickness of glass of framing quality would be used as glazing. An acid free backing board would back the print providing support keeping it flat and protect it from external elements. Or one might use a polyester mylar sheet in back of the mat that is in front of a non-archival backing board. It is common for frames to seal the edges of the art stack up in order to inhibit contamination from dust, outgassing, and contaminants in the environment.
Adhesives and taping used on the frame assembly would be neutral pH and removable. The back of the artwork would have strands of standard picture hanging wire across the back for wall mounting. My own preference is to use a black mat of archival material instead of usual white because I believe scenic landscapes view better without a distracting bright border. Other colors can be used but unless one chooses such carefully, the result may detract from the picture's aesthetic. On the other hand black or white mats are always considered appropriate. Also a black or dark frame works well with a black mat. Experienced framers ought to know what looks well with their materials, especially wood mouldings.
If someone suggests using just 2 inch mat borders, I would immediately become suspicious of their expertise because such is really only appropriate on items like posters or other types of non-photographic framed art. For 12x18 sized prints, equal width 3 to 3.5 inch single mat borders work well. For 21x27 inch prints, I'd recommend 3.5 to 4 inch borders and 4 to 4.5 inches for 30x38 inch prints. If one is using a double mat, borders will necessarily be a bit wider. One could use other frame materials besides metal. However scenic photographs tend to work fine with simple lines of clean metal frames. Framers will have more choices of wood moulding with some priced comparably to metal frame kits. At the high end of framing, are wide elegant hardwood frames that will add considerable aesthetic and value to a piece. There are also other framing options which don't include matting or even glazing. Not all will be effective at protecting the artwork over years. Adding a mat to the large full size 4x5 prints will require the framer to cut the mat from an expensive 40x60 sheet. Note fewer framers are likely to carry 40x60 inch mat stock instead of the more commonly available 32x40 inch mat boards. Those that do are likely your best choice for a framer because it indicates experience in framing larger size prints. For larger prints, the use of acrylic sheets is more often used than glass because such is considerably lighter. However glass is scratch resistant, may have less glare, and is easily cleaned. Acrylic sheeting is easily scratched thus must be cleaned with careful methods as advised by acrylic manufacturers. Aaron Brothers, FastFrame, and Michael's are among the national art and framing service companies one will find in many communities. See my links page.
One can expect some dust to have landed atop a print before the framer has mounted the print into its frame. It is up to the framer to remove any dust atop a print just prior to sealing the artwork. Likewise the glazing needs to be dusted prior to that assembly. Better framing shops will mount artwork in work areas which have some active air cleaner keeping dust contamination down and static conditions low. Dust may be removed from the print by ultra soft lint and dust free brushing however the prefered method is to use compressed air while the artwork is firmly held in place by its mat. Not taking dust precautions will result in some dust being noticeable in the resulting framed artwork that may or may not be noticeable at normal viewing distances. Dust in skies or over shadow areas is often particularly noticeable.
After a print has been framed, I would recommend asking the framer for recommendations on periodically cleaning dust from displayed frames. Many consumer glass cleaners like Windex contain chemicals that will leave residues. Experienced framers often recommend using Sprayway Inc, Glass Cleaner 050, to clean glass. It is available at many consumer stores and can be bought on the internet from many sources including amazon.com.
Gray Digital Bevel Cut Borders
Surrounding the border of each image is what I have coined a gray digital bevel cut. I designed it with the Photoshop gradient tool to look similar to a typical bevel cut on black mat board and is exactly 0.2 inches on each edge adding 0.4 inches total to image dimensions. The gradient changes from light to darker gray with a narrow 4 pixel black border intended for edge cutting. It improves the aesthetic when mounting directly atop an archival black foam core board. In other words without a mat. So it is not an issue for normal framing with a mat and ought to be considered as simple white space outside image borders. For mounting on a black foam core board, one would crop off the remaining inch or so white border on each side of the print by cutting along the edge of the gray digital bevel cut. When framing without a mat, typical metal frame kit sections which are at incremental inch lengths would have at least 1/3 an inch edge overlap. Thus if a print is cut to the gray digital bevel cut border and framed without a mat, it will overlap each print edge at least 1/6 inch and thus not miss much of the full image.
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