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View Full Version : Weighting the bottom of the mat


aquila
10-23-2004, 10:18 AM
I'm just starting to cut my own mats and I'm considering options like cutting the bottom mat margin larger. I really like that effect. I'm wondering about a general rule of thumb. Is there a general percentage to allow for wider mats? If it's all on a one by one basis, how do you determine the best offset? I'd very much appreciate your input/suggestions.

Thank you

Enchanted
10-23-2004, 07:13 PM
I'm just starting to cut my own mats and I'm considering options like cutting the bottom mat margin larger.
That's considered good design practice, having a larger margin at the bottom. I don't know by "how much" - that would depend, I think, on how wide the top and sides are. Offhand I'd say that maybe a 10 percent increase for the bottom should suffice. I guess there is some "golden rule" that professional framers use for the increase in size but I don't know what it is. :)

Helen Zapata
10-23-2004, 09:37 PM
Hi, and welcome to WC!

I'm scratching my head.. it seems like I heard a percentage a long time ago. I'm thinking it was 1/3 more on the bottom for that *special effect* thing. But maybe just do what looks nice to you. And think about if you want the resulting mat to fit into a standard sized frame or a custom one.

Helen

DJFan
10-24-2004, 08:17 AM
When I was framing this issue came up. I was told by the lady I apprenticed under that the reason matts were bottom weighted by .25 of an inch was because in the Victorian era paintings were hung high on the wall with the veiwer standing well below the line of vision. The bottom extra .25 of an inch made the art look proportioned correctly to visually balance the view of the art from the angle you were looking at it from. The current trend is to hang art at an eye level so if you add the extra at the bottom it will look out of proportion or unbalanced. When framing professionally you are taught a lot about the tricks the eye and what role the viewer's perception can play when displaying fine art. One interesting fact I remember was that whenever someone enters an art gallery their eye is drawn to the left upon entering so the best placement for maximum view for your art would be to the left, eye level as you enter the gallery. Weird, huh?

Enchanted
10-24-2004, 09:07 AM
When I was framing this issue came up. I was told by the lady I apprenticed under that the reason matts were bottom weighted by .25 of an inch was because in the Victorian era paintings were hung high on the wall with the veiwer standing well below the line of vision. The bottom extra .25 of an inch made the art look proportioned correctly to visually balance the view of the art from the angle you were looking at it from.
I am also thinking that it may have been made wider initially to accommodate a label line. I still see labels at the bottom sometimes - usually the title of the work and sometimes the artist's name. Sometimes the label is on the frame but in the case of works behind glass it's more often on the mat board. Whatever the reasons for it, I think it just looks nicer than a perfectly uniform width on all four sides.

meriadoc
10-24-2004, 10:18 AM
I'm lazy LOL - I just get my custom framed and matted - I don't want to go through the hassle of doing it myself. Did that on more than one occasion, and goofed almost 75% of the time too ;) I probably spent more on gear, and mats and whatever else than what i did on getting it framed lol.

I have everything bottom weighted - 1/4 inch or 1/8 inch. Last one done was 1/4 inch wider at the bottom. Not enough to look really obvious, but enough to see it is wider.

Leafy
10-24-2004, 10:32 AM
Hi all,
Mats are 'weighted' on the bottom because our eye/brain feels the pull of gravity. If a mat is the same width all around, our brain will 'register' the bottom as slightly narrower (the image is not visually centered in the mat). Having framed professionally, it's easy to spot an amateur mat job because quite often the mat is cut equally.

The actual measure for the increase...well, that's tough. One needs to take into account the shape of the image and its size. I lean toward 1/3 on larger horizontals and sometimes to less than a 25% increase on smaller images with a vertical format.

Same principle applies in typography incidentally...'round' letters (such as caps: C, D, G,O,S; same applies to 'round' lowercase) will actually 'measure' larger, because visually, they collapse in on themselves. The visual power of the circle. Of course, the size of a font -- such as 10 point, 12 point -- was never precise since that designation was for the height of the supporting material, not the face that actually carried the ink to the paper.

The ancients recognized this visual vs. measureable in their temple columns, and bowed them out to make them appear straight, yet full of energy.

...I'm crawling back into my library, with its dusty tomes set in hard type, now...

Helen Zapata
10-24-2004, 11:03 AM
This is such an interesting discussion!

I never knew that it was normal practice to add just a tiny bit at the bottom. I was thinking about the mattings that are obviously weighted, as a design aspect.

But I can sure undertand adding that extra 1/8 or 1/4 of an inch. Yes, they DO look unbalanced when it's equal all around! I never really thought about it.. but now that you all have mentioned it, I can certainly see it.

Fascinating.

Helen

DJFan
10-24-2004, 12:45 PM
Leafy,
I can promise you I am not an amateur and I have cut quite a few equally balanced mats in my professional life. I worked as a professional picture framer for four years under one of the best. My teacher won awards in international framing competitions. All the mats I cut for my art are cut equally. I said in a previous thread and I will repeat it isn't rocket science. If you want to bottom weight it go ahead and bottom weight it....what ever floats your boat. Someone asked why so I answered.

chookbrown
10-26-2004, 11:59 PM
Unless its a square painting (which I do equally on all four sides)... I usually add about half an inch to the bottom of my mattes. Just because I like it that way and a more experienced artist once told me that's what she did... no real reason other than that......

Cheers, Colleen :)

Einion
10-28-2004, 03:36 AM
Mats are 'weighted' on the bottom because our eye/brain feels the pull of gravity. If a mat is the same width all around, our brain will 'register' the bottom as slightly narrower (the image is not visually centered in the mat). Having framed professionally, it's easy to spot an amateur mat job because quite often the mat is cut equally.
You beat me to it http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Aug-2003/3842-thumbsup.gif

This sort of general positioning rule is taught to graphic design students and is also the reason we don't 'centre' an item in the middle of the page, it will always be a little above the true centre so it doesn't "fall off the page" as we say.

Einion

creative-spirit
11-03-2004, 04:12 PM
I always weigh the bottom edge of the matt as I feel that if you dont you get an optical illusion that the picture is slipping out of the bottom of the frame.

bcraver
11-05-2004, 05:33 PM
I used to have my mats cut with a weighted bottom, but have since gone to equal sides purely for practical reasons - that being that you can re-use a mat for another piece and not worry about whether the work is vertical or horizontal - if the mat is weighted for a horizontal piece, you can't reuse the mat (and frame and glass) on a vertical piece without recutting the mat (which I avoid if at all possible!).

I don't find that the aesthetics are worth the hassle of weighted bottoms. I would make the bottom of a 3" wide mat another 1/4" to 1/2" wider - not very noticeable.

P.S. I am so glad to see this as a separate forum!!! This is a terrific resource!

Barbs
11-06-2004, 07:46 AM
I just had this discussion with a professional framing firm. I was told that historically museum pieces had weighted mats (as a previous respondent said). Today, however, the majority of his professional framing jobs have mats with equal sides. Often, he said, when there is an exception, it is to increase an odd size piece to meet a standard frame size.

aquila
11-08-2004, 11:03 AM
I really appreciate all the comments. The variety of points of view has given me a much better prospective.