Straight Lines are Important

I have a lot of walls in my house.  A lot.  And I haven't been very good about making sure things get put up on them.  I have a ton of prints and pictures, which sit in my craft room next to the frames and mat boards that I picked out for them over a year ago. Shhhhh, don't judge....

Ann and I recently attended the BlogHer conference in New York.  Our post about the event is coming shortly. In a nutshell, AHHHH-mazing! I attended a session entitled, "Focus and Organization."  Sam Horn was one of the hosts.  Her link is here. Again, AHHHH-mazing!  When she was discussing the issue of procrastination, she instructed everyone in the room to ask herself or himself if the task that is being "delayed" will be any easier later on.  She gave a great example: you open the door to the fridge for a drink and you see that there is yogurt whose expiration date has passed.  You get your drink, tell yourself that you'll throw the yogurt out later, and close the refrigerator door.  Sam then asked, "will discarding the yogurt later make the task of throwing it out any easier?"  The answer is, of course not. Take the thirty seconds and throw out the yogurt.  It's done, and you don't have to think about it again.  That really hit home with me because I'm really good at putting off throwing out the yogurt...  

So, the Monday after the conference, in which I took a "recovery day" and where the temperature hit 95 degrees, I decided to tackle the framing issue.  Now, to be clear, we are huge fans of Framebridge.  But I have a quantity issue.  See above; lots of wall space to cover.  So, sending out all my prints and pictures for framing would require me to take out a second mortgage.  I have to try to do some of these in house.

Cue the mat cutter. 

When you first see the contraption, it doesn't appear to be that complicated.  Much like a toddler, who looks innocent and cute. Appearances are deceiving.  

I'm not very good at reading instructions.  Ugh.  Takes so much time.  So I jump into a project and learn through trial by fire. Good or bad, I generally end up finding more efficient ways to do things. Here are some examples of efficiency:
  • When I first cut the mat board, I had the color side up.  But the blade cuts at an angle, and not in the angle I wanted. One mat board down.  And first lesson learned: the mat board should be color side down.
  • I measured one of my prints.  It was 11" X 14".  So I cut the mat to be 11 1/4" by 14 1/4". Take a minute to let that sink in.  Yeah, the mat opening that I cut was larger than the print.  Another mat board down.  And lesson number two: there are actual applications for what you learned in high school math class.  Sometimes you need to subtract instead of add.
  • Finally, after four hours, two bottles of wine and a power outage (because I turned on three air conditioners in one room), I had cut two mat boards to layer on top of the print.  Excitedly, I used my fancy acid-free tape to place the print in the mat boards, which I lined up precisely so that everything was centered perfectly. Then...I placed the mat boards into the frame.  Ummm, we need to discuss the importance of straight lines.  I hadn't really been so careful when cutting out the outer edges of the mat board to fit into the 16" x 20" frame.  Not only were the mat boards larger than the frame, but they were the exact opposite of straight.  Ugh.  

Next time, Ms. Horn, the yogurt is staying in the fridge.

Here are my (serious) tips if you are tackling a matting and framing project:
  1. I have the Logan Classic mat cutter.  It's great.  I recommend splurging on the cutting board instead of just the blade.  It makes it easier to cut straight and within the measurements.
  2. Spend money on good mat board.  I tried the mat board sold at Michael's and it just isn't good quality.  There is a local art supply store not far from my house called Jerry's Artist Outlet.  The link is here.  They have high quality mat board plus a really great staff.  Watch for sales; I bought most of my mat board 60% off.  It made messing up a little less painful.  Also, play around with different colors of mat boards.  The people at Jerry's are so gracious; they don't mind when I lay out all of their mat board to figure out what is going to work.
  3. Buy specialty mat tape.  It's often called acid-free tape.  It will not mark the pictures or prints and won't discolor as it ages. 
  4. Spend time mapping out the logistics of the mats that you want to cut.  Whenever Ann and I design a new handbag, we spend considerable time engineering the bag.  Plan to do something similar when doing a framing project.  Write out the numbers and sketch out the mat boards. This will serve as a check to make sure everything is correct before you start cutting.  It becomes easier the more frames you do.  
  5. If you use the Logan mat cutter, the mat board should be face down when you cut the board.
  6. Use new blades often to guarantee a clean cut.
  7. Take your time.  It's easy to want to rush through everything so that you have the finished product. But cutting mats requires quite a bit of precision, so it's better to take breaks and come back to it.
  8. It really isn't that hard.  I joke a lot about my process, but it is pretty straightforward and totally doable.  

Some of my masterpieces (note, they aren't all hung up yet ;)):