Tip File: Choosing the Right Mat Board

The following is an excerpt from the October 2004 issue of The Artist’s Magazine, in an article titled “The Alternative Guide to Matting and Framing” by Jennifer Ball.

Taking it to the mat; how one little decision makes a big difference
Artists agree that if you’re going to experiment with anything, it shouldn’t be the mat or liner you use in your work. Here are a few tips on matting to help you hit a home run with your framing every time.

• When in doubt about the color of your liner or mat, choose a neutral color that either matches the paper or highlights a subtle tone. Eggshell, off-white and oyster are all good color choices that complement a work rather than subtract from its beauty.

• If you really think a color will accentuate a work, Maggie Price suggests using an off-white top mat and a colored mat underneath. To test her color choice, Price takes a scrap of the top mat and the colored mat and then lays them against each side of the work for which it’s intended. “A color choice might look good against the sides and bottom but not so satisfying against the top, which, in a landscape, might be predominantly sky,” she says. If it looks good on all sides, Price then cuts the colored mat so that only 1/4-inch is peeking out from behind the top mat.

• When choosing the size of your liner or mat, make sure it doesn’t match the width of the frame—make it either wider or narrower according to how it best complements a painting.

• If you’re going to have a liner, mat or a backing board touching your work, make sure it’s 100 percent rag board. Normal boards will “burn” any paper they touch over time.

To read the entire article on framing methods,
click here and order The Artist’s Magazine’s 2004 Annual CD.

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