Wednesday, February 24, 2010

why I hate cutting mats

If you guys are the english major people out there, and not the artist people (I know some are both) then you won't know what I"m talking about. Allow this brief illustration to help:

Cutting a mat is to make a nice "frame" of sorts for your picture to go inside of. Oh, if only it were that simple.


This is how I feel about it. Perhaps this is because I can't do math? I can't cut well? I cut uneven? I draw with pen on the wrong side? I don't know.

So here's the deal: I had to buy a mat to frame a picture for a show that I will be a part of if I can manage to "nicely" frame the picture. I put nicely in quotes because I think it's all a matter of opinion. So yesterday I wasted my whole lunch hour speed walking to the closet (er, rather most expensive) art supply store to buy a mat. Eeek! They're 20 dollars! Yeah right, I'm not paying 20 dollars. I already shelled out over 30 for a frame (and this is with it being half off) and so if you add it all up I may as well have paid for it to have been professionally done. I can't go through all of this trouble when I could have saved myself the trouble, if that makes any sense. So I paid 2 dollars and some odd change for poster board. Shock and horror, yes, poster board. So what I say, you can't tell the difference once it's behind glass! Or in my case, plastic (don't laugh - I couldn't afford glass... or was it - could but didn't want to?). (do you like how I went from present tense back to past?) I wasn't planning on beveling the edge and so I figured it wouldn't matter. The only problem was that the sad poster board had to entertain itself all day by itself while I was at work. Needless to say by the time I got home the posterboard had gotten itself into some trouble. The side was dented. GRRRR!!! I refused to buy more. So I trooped on. I measured the whole thing out and cut out a hole. Somehow I didn't manage to screw that up! Horray! The bad news is that the outside wasn't measured properly because the whole thing wouldn't fit inside the frame. The problem with cutting a hole in something is that you can't then just lob off some cardboard at one end. Oh no. I carefully had to cut and cut and cut off of each side until the thing would fit. Only it didn't. I guess I was being too careful. So I measured another half an inch and cut that. But SOMEHOW I cut crooked or something and now it's too small! AAAA!!! So what the heck am I supposed to do? The backing will show when I put the whole thing together--just a teeny tiny bit of course--just enough to MOCK ME.

Anyway, that's where I'm at now. I'm NOT doing this again! No! Never! Ever!

Lesson learned? Don't frame things unless they easily fit into 5.99 Ikea frames with pre-cut mats.


Anonymous said...

I always wondered how easy or difficult it was to cut mats, and was even thinking of doing it for a print I bought. No way am I doing it now. Let someone else do it. I have also bought prints that were already matted but not framed. Putting them into frames was another matter. A cheap frame I used for one actually fell apart as I was trying to contort the matted picture into it.

After that horrible experience, I think I will put some prints up in their matted frames only. If I want to frame, someone else will do it. I love art and purchase it but cost-wise, it's discouraging because of the framing factor. (I don't usually buy framed art.)

I hope it worked out for you. Otherwise, just let the tiny sliver of backing show?

Anonymous said...

How is your Brooklyn/graffiti T-shirt project coming along? You showed them in an earlier blog and they were awesome. You really have talent!

Jean Wogaman said...

I will not mock you. I avoid mat-cutting like the plague. A few years ago, I needed a few extra pieces for an community art show. Rather than cutting mats for the odd-sized watercolors I already had on hand, I painted new pictures to fit neatly inside the windows of some pre-cut mats I bought at discount at a local art store.

Anna Alter said...

Ikea frames rock! Mat cutting is sooo hard. If you ever need one and you have the time you can order one cut to whatever size from for not too much $$.

alexandra said...

mat cutting sounds like going to the dentist: both cause emotional distress and neither have a real payoff. clean teeth and framed art work are just expected, aren't they? i'm glad to be on the side of the english majors. i have never built a frame in my life.

Abigail said...

a smart 'art coach' told members of a class I took that if they want to make money, bite the bullet and pick your favorite style of Ikea frame and always paint to size (and just cross your fingers that Ikea never stops stocking that frame!). She also recommended springing for thick illustration board as a painting surface, because that saves you paying for backing materials later.

In spite of this fine advice, I persist in painting on random scraps of paper, but luckily I have a mom who is both an artist and a VIRGO who is great at cutting mats and likes doing it. I recommend cultivating a friend of this type!