Custom Picture framing offers many types of mourning techniques, one of which is the classy Mat Board. The Mat board, Mount, or simply Mat, is a piece of thick paper, thickness from 1mm-5mm in size that has several functions, both practical and visual.
Decoration (& Protection)
Mats are from the customer perspective, mainly a decorative enhancement, with many options to choose from. The matt in addition to the frame, is meant to draw the attention towards the artwork, enclosing, finalising, and protecting the entire piece of work. The Mat’s inside edge can sit on top of the image covering up a couple millimetres of the image below (see below Example of a “top mount” with a Vintage Berliner Moulding Frame), or the image can sit within the window of the Mat, leaving a couple millimetres around the image and the edge of the mat board (see below Example of a float mount with Frameworks Berlin custom moulding).
In some cases, you have have several mats layered on top of each other, creating an additional design. These mats can vary in color or width, adding to and enhancing the overall design of the picture frame. The mat board themselves can be decorated by hand, wrapped with fabric, or even carved into, since they are thick and dense, becoming a piece of the art.
An example of a mat that has been painted on is known as a French line or French panel. In this example, a line is drawn directly onto the mat with ink or paint and follows the cut out all the way around. When the line is thick, it is known as a “panel” versus just a “line”. Gold, ink, paint, or pencil can be used to draw the line or fill in the panel.
A typical mat is rectangular in shape, following the normal cuts of a piece of paper. However, mats that are oval in shape can also be cut, although this is not common. Various shapes can be cut into a mat, depending on the customer desire. More common are multiple window mat boards, allowing for multiple images to be framed by a mat within one picture frame.
Mat boards come in an astonishing variety of colours and sizes. An intense color mat can distract from the art, and therefore it is common that high end galleries, art collectors, and museum use white based Mat boards to defer to the art itself. Frameworks Berlin specialises in using the white spectrum of Matt boards, and when desired, additional colored mats can be ordered.
Lastly, concerning distance around the image, matting usually has the same distance all the way around the image. The other common method is known as “bottom weighting” or “off sets.” This is prioritized when the visual center of an image is lower than the actual center of the piece of paper. In this case, the bottom is made larger than the sides and top (when the remaining three sides are made equal, this is know as “Top Center”). This has the visual effect of drawing the eye to the center of the image.
Protection (& Decoration)
All the aesthetics are great, but for the professional framer, the Mat board has the primary function of separating the glass from the art, photograph, print, image, etc, which is being framed. This distance if for archival or conservation purposes. As discussed in the Protect your Art article (click here for more) without any breathing room, moisture, mold, condensation, humidity, will be trapped and absorbed into the piece of artwork, resulting in damage to the artwork. Photographs are particularly vulnerable to destruction when in contact with glass, and should always be frame with space left between glass and image. Pastels or chalks easily smudge, and also should conclusively always be framed with a space between.
For images that are on paper that is stable, mat boards are resourceful because they allow for the use of photo corners, which are then hidden behind the mat board. This way, the image itself does not need to be mounted, but instead can easily be removed in the future from the corners which hold it in place.