By David Heyman
A mat makes any image look more professional. Even without a frame, simply matting your photographs or artwork will do wonders for the presentation, and sales potential, of the work.
Although mats come in many standard sizes, if you are working with custom size images, or anything that is done on a paper that is a creative size, your mat will need to be custom cut. Oak Creek Printworks offers custom cut mats, at a cost relative to a standard size mat, with no extra charges.
How to give the correct measurements for a custom mat is one thing that many artists find confusing. Since custom cut mats are cut to order, it is important to have your borders and window measurements accurate. While you can always call David, our custom picture framer, at (805) 390-4955, with any questions on sizing of borders and windows, the following is a guide that will give you reliable results:
- Measure the outside edges of your image. Do not assume your image is a certain size. You may have ordered an 8″ x 10″ photograph, but the image actually measures 7-7/8″ x 9-7/8″. If you are matting artwork on paper with an uneven edge, such as a deckle edge, measure the narrowest part of the horizontal and vertical sides, as shown in this photo.
* Add photo of deckle edge watercolor paper, showing w/ ruler how to measure*
- Decide if you want even borders for your mat, or a weighted edge. Some people feel that having the bottom border of the mat slightly wider makes the image seem more centered when viewed from a distance. This is called an “optically centered” window.
- How wide do you want your mat? A narrow mat allows the image to stand out more and can fit a tight frame. A wide border gives the work dramatic presence and can transform a small image into a large piece. Whichever you decide is up to you, it is just a matter of personal taste. Here are examples of both styles:
- When you have this information, perform these two simple calculations, and you are ready to go: To get the outside dimension of the mat, add the horizontal dimension, the width of the mat and the width of the mat again. For example, if your image is 8″ x 10″, and you want a 4″ wide border, add 8 + 4 + 4 = 16″. Do the same with your vertical dimension, in this example – 10″ + 4 + 4 = 18″. So your outer mat dimension is 16″ x 18″.
- The second calculation is your window size. That is simply your image size, minus a slight amount for overlap. Since the window will cover the edges of the image, it needs to be slightly smaller than the artwork. We recommend a 1/4″ overlap, which will allow enough room for overlap and attachment to the back of the mat. In our example, with an 8″ x 10″ image, your window size would then be 7-3/4″ x 9-3/4″.
With practice, this process becomes second nature, and can be quickly transformed into a host of eye-catching sizes for all of your pieces. Taking a little time to measure your own custom mats can save you much time when preparing your shows and matted prints. Which will then give you more time to do what you do best – creating!