If you have difficulty understanding the importance of mat board to the art of photography, you might want to sit in on a two-day workshop on "Matting and Mounting Photographs" at the Irvine Fine Arts Center.
The workshop, taught by fine-arts photographer David Moore, will include various techniques for cutting mats and mounting photographs. It will also cover the different products and tools necessary to do the job.
"Most students who attend the workshop are familiar with dry mounting photographs," Moore said. "The workshop is designed for anyone who wants to learn how to archivally present or store photographs or any other paper artwork."
Moore doesn't believe in dry mounting his work because once the photograph is on the board it's permanent. If you do dry mount, however, you need to wear gloves. Otherwise the oils and acids from your hands will eventually attack the photograph. Because of this, Moore prefers photo corners, which allows easy removal to replace mats.
"It's also easier to mount with corners," Moore said, because it cuts down on the equipment you'll need. Collectors and galleries like the ease of taking the photograph off the mat for storage.
A mat should be used to protect the print, both in the frame or for display purposes and basic handling. It keeps the print away from the glass so the emulsion side of the print won't stick the glass.
"It's also been developed as an aesthetic style," Moore said. "It's really up to the artist. I think people aren't aware of the materials that are being used by galleries and collectors. Artists who are concerned with the archival nature use acid-free boards. Anytime you put a lot of time into making something you should follow through with the presentation."
Moore, 33, also teaches photography at the Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies, Otis Art Institute and El Camino College and has taught workshops in Los Angeles and Orange County. He became interested in teaching after attending a workshop in Carmel taught by Ansel Adams.
"It was a wonderful experience; he invited us into his home," Moore said. "I got to watch him print in his darkroom. He was a very generous person and a great teacher. That's probably why I'm teaching today."
For the beginner, Moore said, it's more important to keep shooting than to research a pristine presentation. But for those who are interested in protecting their works, he recommends Light Impressions in New York as a source for supplies.
"Not only do they talk about the product in their catalogue, but they also explain how to use rice paper and wheat starch for connecting photographs to mount board. (They also tell) why gum tape is stronger than adhesive tape and why paper tape isn't as strong as cloth tape and when it's best to use photo corners. They also have a supply of books."
Another source Moore recommends is the Paper Source on 12th Street in Los Angeles. He said it offers the best prices for the quality. However, most local art stores should carry what you need. Basically, you should look for an acid-free, 100% cotton or rag board.
Doing it yourself can save you money after the initial start-up costs of supplies. He said that to have a framer cut and mount your 8-by-10-inch print onto an 16-by-20 board with a cut over-mat might cost around $25, but you could do it yourself for $5. Your initial start-up cost for photo corners, a roll of tape, some boards and a mat cutter, such as the one made by Logan, is around $50. After three or four mats you're well on your way to saving money.
The two-day workshop will be from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Oct. 15 and 22 at the Irvine Fine Arts Center, 14321 Yale Ave. For information, call (714) 552-1018. The cost is $18.
The photography column, which runs each Saturday in Orange County Life, is intended to help both the serious amateur and weekend shooter. Questions and ideas are encouraged. Write to: Robert Lachman, Chief Photographer, The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626.