A mat is a paper based border that is sometimes part of the visual presentation of a framed work of art. In addition to functioning as part of the presentation of your art, it also creates a barrier between the art and glazing (glass or plexiglass). The characteristics of a mat include its thickness, acidity, core, and surface. The thickness of a mat is referred to as ply; it comes in 4 ply, 6 ply, and 8 ply. The thicker the mat, more of the bevel cut is visible; it is sturdier, and more expensive. The acidity of a mat impacts its years of longevity. A standard mat board consists of wood pulp, which contains natural materials such as lignin. These materials create acidity in paper, which causes paper to disintegrate. For example, newspapers have a high amount of acidity, which accounts for its short life span. For those still familiar with the newspaper, you probably have noticed how it quickly it becomes brown, brittle and disintegrates.
Acidity is a factor in the surface and core of the mat board. The surface of the mat refers to its outer color and paper. Mats come in a versatile number of colors. Its outer paper can be smooth, highly textured, patterned, fabric such as suede, or linen. The core is the center of the mat board that is revealed when a window (opening) is created in the mat with a bevel cut. It looks like a thin line or border inside the window of the mat. Most mats typically have a cream, white or black core. There are however some mats with bright color cores. White, black, and bright color cores are acid free; cream cores are not.
The two main problems with acidity are discoloration (fading of the mat surface) and the acid’s possible damage to the art. The mat board manufacturing industry addressed the issue of potential acidity in mats by placing mat boards through a neutralizing process. Neutralization can make acid harmless for many decades.
Different types of mat board include the regular mat board (sometimes referred to as paper board), rag mat board, and museum rag. Regular mat board is suggested for reproducible art, such as posters and digital photography that is expected to be exhibited for only a few decades. Rag mat board is recommended for items that have the potential to increase in value (rarity and demand) over time. This may include limited edition prints, signed and numbered prints, and some original art. Museum grade rag is the most expensive mat board, and is recommended for rare and valuable art that requires protection for generations.
The next time you step into a framing business, you will have basic knowledge of the mat. You and the framing designer can have fun selecting the mat or combination of mats that best present your art.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Paris Farrell by telephone. A solo exhibition of his new works opens at the Frame Shop in Bridgeport on Friday, March 17, 2017. During our conversation, Paris shared the following about himself and his work.
Time in Chicago
Paris is originally from Philadelphia but has lived in Chicago for seven years. He currently works in Human Resources at the University of Chicago Hospital.
As an Artist
Paris identifies as a self taught artist. He recognized that he could “see” (draw) well at a young age. His art making however took a back seat to sports during high school and college. He initially resumed his art activity about five years ago when he happened upon Blick Art Materials Chicago’s downtown location. Paris amusingly shared that his purchase was limited to the $30 in his pocket; he was able to buy canvas and paint for less than $30. The past two years have been his most active art making period. He continues to learn and hone his abilities through his repetitive art practice. An interesting aspect of his practice is to hang incomplete pieces throughout his home, making the works readily visible/available to add different elements.
Paris initially experienced self-doubt about his work. Happily for us viewers, he received an extra push from a photographer friend and gained confidence to step out and show his works. Paris shared that his art reflects his feelings, and he creates his work with mixed media combining materials such as watercolor and acrylic, ink and acrylic, etc. Paris also works in photography. His inspiration quite often comes from within; he is however inspired by current and past artists, which includes Salvador Dali. His current works range from small to medium in size. Creating works of a larger scale, and possibly working with shaped canvas are future plans for his art.
Paris has been surprised and humbled by the response to his art. He repeatedly stated that he is grateful for the appreciation shown for his work. He hopes that audiences see the thought, care, and pride incorporated in each of his works. He looks forward to exhibiting a body of new works in his first solo show hosted by the Frame Shop. By the way, Paris is currently working on a commissioned album cover for a local Rhythm and Blues (R & B) artist!
Paris Farrell website is https://www.yourperfectfind.info/
The choice of topic for this week’s post presented an unusual challenge — too many
ideas were generated from the shortest month of the year, February. I initially thought about
addressing Black History Month, which had its beginning as “Negro HIstory Week” conceived
by Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1926. Feburary also gave us the Academy Awards; the first awards
ceremony was held in 1929. The Academy Awards triggered my memory about the collaboration
between the director Alfred Hitchcock, and the Surrealist artist
Salvador Dali on the 1945 mystery thriller film, Spellbound ( I bet you did not know about this
collaboration), and the idea of entertaining you with this piece of film history.
February 2017 also of course brought us Mardi Gras, which ended yesterday (2/28). Although
New Orleans is the USA city most closely associated with Mardi Gras, Mobile, AL celebrated the
first Mardi Gras in the early 1700s.
The topic of Mardi Gras won out when I thought about the beads, masks, doubloons, and elaborate
costumes! My enthusiam was however somewhat dampen when I came across an article about the
production of beads, and their negative impact on the environment — oh my. Nevertheless, my search
about Mardi Gras brought me to an article about a New Orleans artist who donated his Mardi
Gras themed art to support the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). The
artist Kevin Thayer created an art piece of his rescue pets, Bootsy and Koko attired in Mardi Gras garb.
For all you pet lovers and Mardi Gras enthusiats, the poster is below.