Learn the Tricks and Tips of Hinging (even if we do it for you!)
Once you have gone through the sequential steps of the Custom Mat Cutting template (see the links at the bottom of this page) you will have: 1.) selected the type and color of mat board you would like; 2.) selected the thickness of your window mat and backing boards (2-ply / 4-ply / 8-ply); 3.) filled in the outside and inside measurements of your mat; 4.) decided whether the window cut is “centered” or “weighted”. The last thing you need to do now is decide on which interior side you would like your window mat to be hinged (i.e. attached) to the backing mat board (and we’ll do it for you!).
Hinging is usually done with either water-activated acid-free linen tape or self-adhesive Tyvek tape (see photo above). Both of these tapes come in rolls in either 1-inch or 1-1/2 inch widths. While which one to use is a personal preference, yours truly ALWAYS uses 1-1/2 inch wide tape, as I believe it adds a bit of structural strength to the hinge. Both tapes are easy to cut to size, apply by hand, and burnish down with a simple but very effective burnishing bone.
Both Tyvek self-adhesive tape (on left) and water-activated linen tape (on right) come in rolls, and are available in 1-inch and 1-1/2 inch widths. The burnishing bone on the far right is a handy tool for burnishing down both types of tape, smoothing blade-cut edges, and is also commonly used in creasing folded paper and a number of other bookmaking procedures. (Please click on the images for more information.)
There are three hinging choices available in Step 4 of Archival Methods’ Custom Cut Mat template (see photo above): 1.) no hinge at all (for whatever reasons you might have); 2.) along one long side; 3.) along one short side. As with many other aspects of matting your work this comes down to personal choice, but once again there are some common “standard practices.” Some individuals will ALWAYS hinge along one of the long sides, as in theory a long-side hinge will lend greater structural support. Others (including yours truly) will ALWAYS hinge across the top of the mat (this will be the long side for a horizontal mat, and the short side for a vertical mat), because it just “makes sense,” at least to me. When in doubt, hinge across the top, unless of course you just don’t want to.
If you choose to hinge your own mats, please refer to the photo above. In it I have used a black window mat (the top board in the photo above) and a matching black backing board (the bottom board in the same photo) as it makes the tape hinge in the center more visible then would be the case had I used a white tape on white mat boards.
If you are hinging your mat yourself, cut the tape you are using (Tyvek self-adhesive tape or water-activated linen tape) to your desired length, usually within a half inch of each side of the mat board (see photo above), and line up the center of the length of tape with the seam between the top window mat and the bottom backing board. Place the tape so that it straddles the center of this seam, and then use a burnishing bone to securely burnish down either type of tape once it is placed.
(Please Note: as a word of caution, if using linen tape it is always wise to practice a few times with scrap mat board in order to get a sense of the correct amount of water to apply to your tape (with a ceramic tongue, a clean sponge or a clean rag) ahead of adhering it to your mats. You do not want too much or too little water, as too much might saturate your mat and too little might not be enough for good adhesion. Practice makes perfect, and you’ll get the hang of it soon enough as it’s pretty easy.)
Final Quick Hinging Hack (if doing it yourself, and remember that we’ll do it for ya if ya want): OK, so you’ve got your window mat perfectly measured and perfectly cut, and now its time to hinge it. MAKE SURE you are hinging the CORRECT side and the CORRECT orientation! In other words, DO NOT hinge the “front” (the beveled side) of your window mat to the backing board, rather make sure you are hinging the “back” of the window mat (the non-beveled side) to the backing board. Also, if your window mat is “weighted” take a moment and measure the top and bottom borders to MAKE SURE that your “top” and “bottom” are oriented correctly and that you’re hinging the TOP and not the BOTTOM of your window mat to your backing board—check twice, hinge once. I’ve been matting artwork and photographs for over 35 years, folks, and I STILL mess this part up on occasion. Do yourself a favor and check THREE times!
If you would like to learn more about the differences between a “good” mat and a “bad” mat / choosing the best color and mat board thickness for your mat / how to measure your mat / and what is the difference between a “centered” or “weighed” mat, please visit the other short yet informative blogs in our Matting series for a deeper understanding of each step of our easy-to-use Custom Mat Cutting template.
• Part 5: Hinging Your Mat Board (you’re here now)
The overall goal of our Matting series is to take the mystery out of enhancing your family photographs, collectible images, or your art portfolio – leaving you with a stunning, archivally matted presentation and the peace-of-mind that comes with knowing that you’ve done things right! This series will be followed by a similar set of blogs that will explain everything you need to know to mount your work in your new mats. Stay tuned!
If you have questions or would like more information on matting or on the archival storage and presentation materials that are right for you, please contact us here at Archival Methods. We’re always there to help with any archiving, storage, or presentation questions you may have.