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FTER a little while the print-maker finds that the care of his productions is becoming an increasingly troublesome problem - unless a print publisher takes the entire edition off his hands as it is completed.
There are expensive filing cabinets on the market. If you can afford one, well and good. Otherwise, a simple method is to give each subject a separate folder. For this any stiff paper will do. Subjects the size of 5 x 7 or 6 x 8 inches will fit nicely on sheets a little under 10 x 12 inches, and one standard sized folder slightly smaller that 10 x 12 inches can be adopted. During the Christmas shopping period, the 5 and 10 cent stores put on sale gift boxes large enough to hold that size folder, which are about one and one-half inches deep. They make fine containers, and will hold four or five full folders. Each folder could have, on the front cover, such data pertaining to the subject as may be considered necessary - the title, the year made, the edition, price, etc. For larger prints, simple portfolios could be made of heavier cardboard.
Prints have a tendency to offset - that is, to stain the paper coming in contact with them. It may take a period of years for some papers to impart, and for others to acquire, this evil. Sometimes the prints made on dampened paper and soft ink will show effects of offsetting after a few days, if allowed to come in contact with each other. I have come upon a number of prints that have acquired complexions from contact with a straw-board portfolio. So it is essential to slipsheet or interleaf the prints, not only while printing, but when they are stored. For this tissue paper may be used.
Keep the prints flat at all times and in a dry place to avoid mildew. Do not allow the casual viewer to handle them at all. Some people are determined to rub their finger tips over the inked lines to see if they are etchings - they have read that lines should be raised, in relief. Never allow anyone to touch the surface of a print.
HERE is considerable difference between a matted print and the same subject unmatted. It may mean a sale or no sale, and that sometimes is a tremendous difference. The mat is a dress and a bother to put on. It is likely to be a discouraging business to attempt to train the commercial picture-framer to a sense of good proportion and color in matting pictures. I have made detailed sketches of how I wanted prints fixed up, giving all possible information - the margins, the mounting, the backs and so on, including instructions to ship to an exhibition - without passing on them (a foolish thing to do), only to find later that the only thing the honest workman got right was, surprisingly enough, the size. About the only conclusion that one can arrive at when work is given out is that it is not wanted, in spite of the depression and unemployment.
As a mat is likely to be handled a good deal it should be of tough cardboard or heavy paper that will stand much cleaning. The front should be free of all ornamentation - no lines around the opening, no fancy flickers at the corners, and no noticeably prominent markings on the stock. It should be as unobtrusive as it is possible to be, and preferably white in color but not a chalky dead white. Nor should yellow or cream colored mats be used with white paper prints.
Discourage any attempt on the part of the picture-framer or matter to whittle down the size of the sheet on which the print is made, or to mark it in any way, or to glue it down. The print should be attached to the mount with hinges.
Comparatively few prints are of such proportions that they may be mounted on a horizontally placed standard sized mat. If the width of the print is against using on the standard 14 or 14 1/4 inch width mat, take the next larger size and keep the mats vertical. In placing the prints I prefer to have the top and side margins on the mat alike in width. On occasion the top margin may be slightly favored with an extra fraction of space, but don't for heaven's sake, make the sides wider than the top. Any print less than ten inches in width (unless it is abnormally narrow) or any vertical picture not more than fourteen inches high of the proportion of 14 x no more than 17 inches, will fit very nicely in a frame or mat 14 x 18 inches in size - the smallest standard sized exhibition frame. Fig. 24 shows the same subject in three different positions on the same sized mat. Fig. 25 shows the method I prefer. Some people consider the proper mat to be folded on the right side, so that in turning over a number of them in a portfolio they will not open; but this will be bothersome when they are being replaced, to say nothing of the possibility of injuring the prints. In many instances, and especially at informal exhibitions where the work is suspended by clips attached to a wire strung across a room, it is a decided advantage to have the mats fold or hinge at the top.
Prints for exhibition must be matted. The prospectus of an exhibition generally states the sizes acceptable to the exhibition committee. The size most frequently used is 14 1/4 X 19 1/4 inches. Sometimes it is the more sensible one of 14 x 18 inches. Galleries that make a practice of exhibiting are usually equipped with standard sized glazed frames, which protect the work from the itching fingers of art lovers.
Exhibitors are making it, in more and more cases, a condition to use thick matting material. Ordinarily a thin stiff paper would do. However, if the print is to be kept permanently behind glass, the stock should be thick enough to prevent the print from touching the glass.
Some dealers insist upon the prints being matted when sent to them on consignment. It is the part of wisdom to have them so when they go out to merchants inexperienced in handling such work, and to collectors in general - both for the better appearance made and the protection afforded. Incidentally, it is well to further protect the prints with cellophane. This material has a tendency to shrink, so that it is better to attach it to the back of the mat or mount - not to the print - at the top middle, to allow for this shrinkage. Otherwise the contraction will either bend the mat, tear the sheet or wrinkle the print - if not do all three of them.
The stock Bainbridge sells for mats, 'Art Bristol, Antique Finish GXL' is particularly tough although it is rather too thin for some exhibitors. The same applies to the Hammermill white, double thickness. Size 23 x 35 would be the most economical. Hurlock carries all sorts. The binder's board comes in various thicknesses, and it may be had at most paper dealers.
Binder's or jute boards are more economical for the backs when thick mat boards are used. Unless the print is made on a thick and opaque paper the color of the back board - if it is not white - will show through, and the print will take on a sickly hue. To remedy: Paste white paper on the back over the part occupied by the print.
HE prospective buyer of a print does not demand that his jeweller guarantee a limited number of a certain design of rings or spoons, nor does he insist upon these articles being numbered, nor does he think it necessary that the manufacturer of them furnish his autograph with every item he puts on the market (corn flakes excepted) no matter how much more than a print they may cost. But it may come to that.
The autographed print is a comparatively recent institution. Up until about fifty years ago the artist considered it of sufficient moment to put his name on the block, plate or stone, and let it go at that. These days no print by a living artist will be accepted for exhibition unless it bears his signature - regardless, it seems, of whose hand inscribes it. I know an artist who has his wife autograph his prints; a delightful conceit to share one's glory with his wife. It has been criticized but I am inclined to think it is a not improper procedure. After all, it is not flattering to feel that the signature is paramount to the art. It might be well for the artist and the collector to bear in mind that it takes more than a signature, and more than a fancy looking fraction like 42/45 to make a picture worth doing and worth owning.
It will save trouble to put the title on the print - if not directly beneath the picture in the margin (where some person is likely to ask you to put it later), at least at the edge of the sheet. The title at the left directly beneath in the margin, the number of the print and the edition in the middle, and the signature of the artist at the right, to balance the title, is as good a layout as any. Titles vary in length, so for that reason it will be a slight advantage to start them at the left and let them spin out where they will. The signature is a constant quantity, so that it is easier to place it to the least disadvantage.
Titling work is an evil, but it happens to be necessary, for pictures have to be referred to at times, and sometimes catalogued, and it may be necessary to report them as lost, strayed or stolen. An artist cannot have had any powerful convictions in an art expression if it becomes overwhelmingly difficult to name it.
Matted prints may be exhibited without frames and yet be protected by glass. In this case L-shaped curtain-rod screws hold mat and glass to the wall - two screws above and two below. See Fig. 26. Panes of glass come in standards of 14 x 18 and 16 x 20 inches, to mention only the sizes nearest those of mats generally used. The person who conceived the brilliant size of 14 1/4 x 19 1/4 inches has contributed a lot of waste glass to society, plus the labor of cutting. It is hard to understand why this asinine size has been adopted - unless on the supposition that it is easier for a glazier to cut glass than for an artist to cut paper. In casual exhibitions where no frames are to be had, it will therefore be better to use the 14 x 18 size mat. In this case it may even be possible to borrow or rent the glass for an exhibition, if necessity warrants it.
In many cases the walls of a room to hold an exhibition are of plaster in which it would not do to drive nails or screws. It may be possible to string wires around, supporting them at intervals with small brads, or else with cords from the picture mouldings. Glass could not be used with this method of hanging work because of the weight. Glazed mats could be suspended singly or in tandem from the mouldings. Some positive method would have to be devised to attach the cords to the pictures - perhaps loops completely around them. They would not look pretty.
It is not good policy to ship glazed prints, because of the danger to the picture in case of accident to the glass.
If the prints are not to be shown behind glass it will be better to use clips than to punch holes in the mats, and unless one is dealing with an experienced exhibitor the suggestion should be made to him. Knowledge in handling prints should not be taken for granted.
T ought not to be necessary to devote any space to the art of properly packing prints for shipment, but I have been the victim of poor packing, and I know something of how dense the general ignorance is in that field.
Don't be afraid of using plenty of material. Corrugated cardboard boxes in which bread and similar articles have been shipped can be had for the asking at grocers.
Do not roll prints, and it should not be necessary to say they should not be folded. Wrap the prints, matted or unmatted, first in clean paper. Then cut two, or better, four sheets of the corrugated cardboard at least two inches wider and two inches longer than the wrapped prints. The boards that contact with the prints should be smooth and unbroken, for otherwise the prints may get wrinkled. If the cardboard is not large enough to fold all around the package, take two more pieces and fold as in Fig. 27.
Stagger the breaks, for the middle of the package is the most vulnerable in the matter of bending, but the corners come in for the most abuse. A board folded is stronger than the corner of two boards. If you can get gummed-paper tape and fasten the cardboards together at each side, it will add immensely to the strength. See Fig. 27.
If the packing boards are cut the same size as the mats or prints, damage is sure to result in the shape of crinkled corners on your 80 cent mats.
The package is lightly wrapped in newspaper, and over that with tough wrapping paper. The twine ought to be strong enough not to give way when the package is yanked by it, as it surely will be in transportation.
In shipping a package, fragile because of its size and flatness, the odds for safe transportation, I dislike to say, favor the express company. The company demands of its employees that they exercise a reasonable amount of care in handling goods. On the other hand, the proper method of removing a mail-bag from a flying train seems to be to kick it off; it is a time-saving device.
I have had a package that had been sent over a rural route rejected, naturally enough, by the customer because of blood stains on it which had penetrated to the prints. The blood was acquired no doubt from being hauled in close proximity to a roast-beef by the accommodating rural delivery man. I don't know what can be done to guard against such perils.
If for any reason the prints are to be returned in full or in part, and the recipient is likely to be inexperienced in shipping them, it will be wise to request him to use the same packing material for the return.
Of course you should put your name and address on all packages.
OME of the things to be considered in framing a picture are the general color of the print as well as that of the wall on which it is to hang, and that of the trim of the room. Generally the color of the frame can be similar to that of the print, if it is a monochrome; black if there are large masses of black in it; a half-tone if the general effect of the print is a half-tone; sepia if that is the general effect, and so on.
The idea of using a tone halfway that of the general scheme of the room might be entertained. Certainly the color of the frame should not be any more obtrusive than the design of it - unless attention is to be detracted from a poor picture. For the color-print a dull gold is about as good as any. The tint used for the trim, or woodwork, that harmonizes well with the room may do first rate for the frame of the color-print as well as the monochrome; it is something to experiment with, anyway.
For a print not larger than, say, 10 x 12 inches, a simple moulding of no greater width than one-half an inch is most appropriate. The top and side margins of the mat should be of the same width - in this case about two inches, and the bottom a trifle more. The frame should never compete in interest with the print. Consider it as the binder to hold glass, mat, print and backing together. The mat should be thick enough to prevent the print touching the glass, in permanently framed work.
If the print is larger than that mentioned above, the moulding ought to be correspondingly heavier to bear the greater weight of the glass. But woodcuts are generally not so large that material wider than an inch need be considered.
Do not make the mistake of pasting down a thin print on, of all things, a cheap cardboard. Attach the print to its backing with hinges, like those used in mounting postage stamps.
The intelligence of the average 'art shoppe' proprietor is not to be trusted in the matter of framing any more than in matting.