Of the thousands of photos that I’ve taken, I’ve only ever framed a few. As a complete neophyte, I decided, some years ago, to try my had at framing my photos. I bought the frames, cheap ones, and decided to cut my own mats. That, shall we say, was a disaster. I learned, quickly, that in order to cut mats, you have to have a great ruler, a steady hand, and an expensive machine, and the know how (experience) to use it. I gave up on my career in mat cutting in a most expeditious manner.
While I was out in California with Anita, I admired her framed, signed, and hung matted prints. I got to see where she assembles them, but didn’t see her put one together. She encouraged me to try it myself, told me where she got her prints done and where she purchased her mats. I promised that when I got home that I would give it a go. So, I did. I ordered a couple of prints from Bay Photo, which arrived quickly and were of excellent quality. Next, I set about selecting a particular type of frame. I went with an 18 x 22, Nielson Profile 97 frame. A nice frame with a nice, thick border. I added a mat board, a mat cut for 12 x 18 artwork, and glass. The frame arrived today, via FedEx, and was I ready to assemble. It went something like this:
1. I unpackaged the frame, which was wrapped in about 15 feet of bubble wrap, seriously! No way that thing was breaking.
2. The frame was already fully assembled.
3. I read the instructions on how to mount my photo into the mat using a special tape that I had ordered.
4. I reassembled the frame.
5. I added the mounting hardware – done!
All told, about 15 minutes work. Remembering what Anita had told me about fingerprints and such, I was very careful not to touch the inside of the glass, as to get rid of fingerprints, I’d have to take it apart again. I put the frame to the side, admired my work, then went to lunch. Later in the evening, I went back to admire my work again. I noticed something odd. The mat didn’t look right. Hmmmmm. Upon closer inspection, I had put the mat on upside down. Damn it! The bevel could not be seen. I had to take the frame apart, remove the tensioning springs, etc. I had to detach the photo from the mat, remove the glue residue very carefully so as not to damage the front of the mat, and reassemble. Total time, about 15 or 20 minutes.
After getting it back together, adding the tensioners, reassembling the frame, I looked lovingly at my work of art. Sweet! Wait … WTF? You’ve got to be kidding me!!! On the right side of the mat, there is a ‘goober’, basically a little bit of the glue that remained when I had to rub it off of the front of the mat. Well, it’s still there. Later, I’ll disassemble it one more time and see if I can get it right this time.
What I learned:
Even if you have everything that you need, you have to be very careful about putting it together – I’m thankful that I wasn’t doing an assembly for an art show. I can understand why it takes Anita so long to hang, say 10 prints. That could take days to get it right. Kudos to you Anita and Mark. Mark Graf puts his together and then has to pack and ship them.
Framing can be expensive. All told, including shipping costs, printing and framing this one print cost about $70; that does not include any time spent trying to put it together. Now, when I see a print at an art show and the guy is offering it for, say $100, it’s really just about $20 or so that he’s getting for the print. The rest are built-in costs! I went with the cheapest mat that they had. I could have spent a lot more on say, an archival double mat! As these were for home use only, I decided to go a little less expensive.
Overall, even with the drama that I had, I am looking forward to, slowing framing a few more photos. I actually had two prints made, both from my California trip, but I ordered only one frame. I’ll order another a little later, perhaps one every other month. It is my goal to get some of my photos on the wall. It’s been way too long that they’ve just been languishing on the hard drive.