Today’s photographer needs the ability to mat and frame to make their product more valuable to their customer and more profitable to themselves. This requires a rudimentary understanding of how to mat and frame, as well as the correct tools for doing so. Let’s review the recommended tools and supplies for framing photography
Picture Frames for Photographers
Many photographers opt for the ease and efficiency of sectional frames. Sectional Frames are frames that are cut to the size specified and shipped to the framer with a means of assembly that require no tools. See how they work. See our full selection of 350 picture frames cut to size and ready for assembly.
Mat Cutting Equipment for Photographers
One place where the photographer will not want to skimp is on a mat cutter. He will want a mat cutter that is adequate for his purposes, leaving out none of the essential features for reducing full sized sheets of mat board and foam board to size, and for cutting windows in mats. His mat cutter must include a squaring arm because without it he will have to mark out each sheet of material in preparation for sizing it, a time consuming process that is avoided when using a squaring arm.
In addition, he will want the ability to cut a full 32″x40″ sheet of mat board or foam board. Consequently, his mat cutter will need to be at least 40-1/2″ long. And he will probably want a mat cutter that accepts a glass cutting accessory in order to cut glass. The lowest priced mat cutter for all these purposes is the Logan Simplex Elite Mat Cutter (Model 750-1), a 40-1/2″ long mat cutter with a squaring arm that provides straight cutting and bevel cutting capability and includes a glass cutting tool. The Simplex Elite Mat Cutter Model 750-1 provides all the functionality a photographer-framer needs at a reasonable price. See it here.
Holding the Contents in the Frame
After a mat cutter, the most important tool to have for picture framing is a point driver. The majority of picture frames are made of wood and most wood picture frames come with no provision to hold the contents in the frame. In these cases, the framer must provide the means, and the most popular means of doing so is using metal tabs called “points”. Points are pushed, squeezed or driven into the inside walls of the frame recess with a tool designed for the purpose. Inexpensive tools for pushing or squeezing points can be clumsy and time-consuming. What’s more, they can be ineffective should the frame be made of a hard wood like oak or maple. In all cases, point drivers are preferred.
The Fletcher Framemaster Point Driver is a fine tool with good action in the hand and the ability to drive points into hard wood or soft wood. However, it only drives rigid points. To drive the more flexible points that are used in gift frames you must buy a separate Fletcher Flexi-Master Point Driver designed specifically for that purpose. On the other hand, the Logan Dual Drive Elite Point Driver drives both types of points in one low priced tool capable of driving both hard woods and soft woods.
Photographer-Framers should also have an anti-static brush and anti-static gloves for handling their prints and for handling the components of the picture frame, in particular glass or acrylic to be placed over the artwork. Tiny specks of dust or lint can drive the assiduous framer to distraction. Brushing the glazing and prints with an anti-static brush can save time and reduce frustration.
Adhesives and Tapes for Mounting the Print
Open ended prints (those that are easily reproduced) can be mounted to foam board or mat board using an adhesive that coats the back of the print. Frame shops routinely mount open ended prints in this way by using a dry mount press. Some photographers accomplish the same thing by using an aerosol spray adhesive like Photo Mount or an adhesive covered mounting board like Crescent Perfect Mount. But a cleaner, faster method is Self-Adhesive Foam Board, a lightweight mounting board that is coated with adhesive on one side. For limited edition prints, photographers often use a thin, self-adhesive reversible mounting tape. Or they opt for the ease and efficiency of Archival Mounting Strips, Mylar strips with a self-adhesive band that are assembled around the edges of the print to trap it in place without putting any adhesive on the print itself. This creates a truly archival mount of the print.
Unbeknownst to many photographers, regular mat board provides an adequate level of protection from the acidity that is latent in any wood-based, lignin bearing material. The neutralization of lignin bearing materials through the introduction of alkalines (a routine process in the manufacture of mat board today) can keep acidity from becoming a threat to the artwork for 50-100 years. Therefore, if the print is open ended, regular mat board is adequate for framing. However, if the print is signed or a limited edition, the photographer will want to opt for a mat board which is acid and lignin free, such as Crescent Rag Mat Board.
When it comes to foam board, it’s interesting to note that regular foam board does have some potential acidity. However, this is not a dramatic threat to prints in the near term. It is perhaps more interesting to note that acid-free foam board is not, strictly speaking, acid free, since the core of the foam board is still potentially acidic. However, the face papers – the parts that actually touch the print – are made of cotton and are 100% acid and lignin free. As with mat board, regular foam board is adequate for backing open ended prints, but acid-free foam board should be used for signed and limited editions.
Today’s photographer has unique needs and is often interested in holding down the cost of framing while still providing adequate protection for his or her prints. Having these recommended tools and supplies for framing photography will help achieve that goal.