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The first step in the presentation and protection of your photograph is to mat the photograph. And when you decide to mat the photograph, the first choice you need to make is whether to use archival or non-archival matting materials. This choice can be informed first, of course, by the nature of the photograph itself. It does not make sense to put a non-archival photograph in an archival mat. Here at Quartz Mountain the student work we are preparing is archival, we are using an Epson inkjet printer with UltraChrome inks and printing on a media that is acid free.
So this work will last for a long, long time. As a result, we have made the decision to use archival materials in order to mount the work. When you go down that road towards archival, RagMat is really the top of the line as far as archival materials. It's made from 100% cotton rag. It contains no acids, no lignins, nothing that will attack the work in anyway or discolor it. There is a huge selection available in RagMat. This is just one brand, Crescent, and you can see here we start out, we have got a lot of whites, yellows, soft tones, we go into greens and grays.
They have different textured surfaces in several colors. You can even go farther, you know, if you need something in purple, you have got lots to choose from. Really, the whole spectrum is covered. And in addition to that, you also have many different textured surface, patterned surfaces, many options to work from, and this is just in the RagMat. They are top of the line. In addition to RagMat, you can get Alpha-Cellulose Matboards that are also lignin free, they are processed and buffered to be a pH neutral, the pH falling between 8.5 and 9.0.
Once again, these materials will not attack your artwork at all. The step down from that when you move away from the archival matboard is a decorative matboard. And the decorative matboards are wonderful, you get a full color selection in them, you just don't want to rely on them for archival preservation of the work. They will eventually attack what's matted in them, cause some discoloration. Your work is not going to burst into flames or anything horrible like that, but it might be slightly degraded over time by coming into contact with the acids in the board.
They are perfect choice if you're matting a poster, most printed pieces are non-archival, they contain acids and they in their own way will yellow over time. So we have made the decision to use RagMat. When choosing a matboard for a museum type exhibition, typically, museum exhibitions are mounted with whiteboard, and especially photographs, it's rarely you go into the museum and see anything else. Another factor in the selection of a whiteboard is with about 80 works being in the show, all from different artists, not all from different artists, but from a group of 18 different artists.
We would really like to use a board with a color that kind of unifies the show, that helps pull the images together and have the show make more sense. So starting with white that may seem simple, but there are really a huge number of choices in white. You can look at these, there are all subtle differences in tones, some lean towards the pink, the blue, the yellow. What I would typically do when I'm trying to select a whiteboard is look at the paper base of the photograph or the artwork I'm trying to work with, and pick a white that works well with that.
In this case, I am going to pick a white that matches it pretty closely. Sometimes what works on papers that are printed on ivory or a beige paper, I will pick a slight contrast from the paper itself. But in this case, I want to really match the paper closely. So we selected our white, you might consider, every once in a while you think about double matting, a double mat is a nice thing, it adds depth, it adds a little more visual interest in the case of black and white photography. A white mat over a black mat can make a really dramatic border for the print.
In this case, for this exhibition, because of budgetary constraints and time constraints, we are going to go with a single mat, and go with a white mat. The next decision you have to make is what kind of backing board you want to use. A mat is a two-part construction. There is a backing board where the photograph is mounted, and then there's the matboard which goes over the backing board, which has the window cut in it to expose the work. You can just cut a second sheet of your mat board to use as a backing board or there is a material out there called the Foamcore.
It's two layers of paper with foam in the center. You can get this in acid free, in a couple different thicknesses. An advantage to Foamcore is it's less expensive than matboard, it's still archival, and it's also a little bit more rigid than matboard. Sometimes I will use Foamcore for things that are just going to live as matted prints, rather than framed prints just because of its extra rigidity. So now we have made our selection on the Matboard and the backing board, and we are going to proceed to the next step, which is determining the size of the mat.
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