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All fine art that deserves preservation needs attention to the future from day one. However, since most of us were not present when our art was first produced, it is our responsibility to pick up the ball now, so to speak. All framing materials, such as mats and spacer boards, must be acid free. If made from cheaper materials, acidic impurities will eventually leech across into the artwork and stain it. These contaminants also breakdown & weaken the fibers of both pulp and rag papers!
With artworks printed on paper sheets, most pieces are framed with a cardboard "Mat" sheet in front of them. A central cut out window allows the image to be seen. So, in essence, the mat is a paper frame-within-a-frame. It spaces the artwork off the underside of the glass to prevent heat burn or molds from damp contact.
Often, the front mat was glued directly to the margins of the artwork with animal hide glue. This kept them from buckling or getting wavy. However, the artwork was now "sandwiched" in between the front mat and rear backboard, which were both acid containing materials! Old glued down mats must be removed by a qualified paper Conservator.
Types of Mats:
MODERN MAT MAKING:
- Modern Double Matting: Since the Sixties, framers have employed "double mats" most frequently. They are two mats overlaid to just show a thin border of the second around the window to the image. The colors are usually chosen to be complimentary to those in the artwork. While these are often nice looking, they are inappropriate in a historical sense to the etchings of Louis Icart and other Boudoir artists. Even PinUp rarely had any mats at all! Unfortunately, most framing on Boudoir pieces is done this way nowadays because modern framers do not know how to do French Mats, or to simply save some money.
- Single Plain Mats: In late Victorian times, the single mat board type of framing was introduced. Therefore, many early Boudoir etchings from the Teens and Twenties are found with a single white or buff mat board overlying the piece. These look nice, and are historically correct. (French mats were not employed typically till the early Twenties.) However, they are usually composed of pulp compositions, and consequently stain or "burn" the artwork after many years. They should be removed and recreated with acid free mats of the same style.
- French Style Mats: "French mats" became popular in the late Teens through Early Twenties. They were considered posh and could be individually modified to coordinate to the color scheme of both the picture and the room as a whole. Contemporary art catalogs offered to make these for "a penny an inch!" If only we were so lucky now! The framework for a French mat was the standard single mat with its open image "window" in the center. Usually white or buff were chosen. Then, the Framer would carefully draw thin colored lines on the mat around the edges of the window. These were done with ruler, guides, and colored inks or paints. The lines were often gold, pink or black, but any colors from the picture might be employed as a complement. Occasionally, a soft watercolor "wash" was stroked in between two of the lines as a kind of solid border to the outside of the picture. Rose and light blue were favorite washes of the period. Often, Boudoir etchings were oval in their outer border. In these instances, the drawn lines of the French mat could simply be ovals following the overall shape of the picture. In more elaborate schemes, the Framer would fill in the open four corners of the mat board with triangular motifs of lines. These could then be painted in with a wash, if desired. Occasionally, the more ambitious mat maker would join the triangles into an outer border grid of french lines. (See examples)
- Custom Mats: Pretty when found, these custom jobs were not very common. The Framer might hand paint flowers, birds, foliage, etc. onto the mats. On a few Icart etchings of the Late Twenties, the margin of the actual sheet contained a printed title of the work in a Gothic scroll. Then, the mat maker could cut a window below the picture to show it's "title".
Single Mats/Double Mats: Most frame shops should be able to easily handle making the basic buff single mats of the Teens, or the modern double mats often employed in our day. To be appropriate, about ½ inch of margin should be showing at the edges between picture and window edge. In this rim, we find the Artist's signature, blindstamp impressions, edition size and copyright annotations.
1.)Only Acid Free Mats & Boards.
2.)No gluing or "drymounting" pictures to boards!
3.)No "heat mounting" with plastic heat activated sheets!
4.)Minimal "hinging" with tape at top of picture only to "hang" it.
French mats simply require a Framer who is also a bit of a patient artist himself. It is not a job for a novice. And, it is not cheap! Depending on complexity, a French Mat can cost our clients from $50 to $125.00!!! But, if you are framing a rare artwork worth thousands of your dollars, it might be well worth it. Nothing seems more odd or pathetic than a misguided collector showing off his prized possessions in a ragtag or inappropriate framing style!
At David Chase Gallery, we offer the finest in original quality French Matting service. All materials are 100% Acid Free. And colors, washes, and line designs are discussed well in advance. Typically, a French Mat might take 4 weeks to make and deliver, because of ongoing demand and backlog. Shipping is additional.
Since these are "custom" services, the payments for French Mats are non-refundable. Therefore, we recommend that you thoroughly discuss all your ideas and concerns prior to placing an order. This is not a service that we make a lot of money on; but we offer it in order to please our clients, and to provide the possibility of maintaining complete historical accuracy.
Please view the Sample Pictures on This Page, and kindly Email questions to our Gallery. We will reply promptly!
The gallery below gives just several representative samples of what we have for sale. Please click the link to see the entire stock which is separated out by the major "color" on the frame.
PMB 263, 590 Centerville Road, Lancaster, PA 17601
(610) 308- 1756