Color coding mat corners

Sherry Lee

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Jun 25, 2002
Phoenix, Az.
I'd think everyone is sick of this subject by now, but one quick question. For those of you that DO color code your mat corners, what do you use on the dark colored mat samples?

I have Prisma Color pens to use on the lighter boards. I don't have anything else.
I don't get it. Are you coding the edges, the backs or the fronts?

Or, if you're talking about the solid core boards, I guess it doesn't matter.
Sorry I wasn't clearer......

I gather that some framers color a top edge (maybe an inch or two) so that when pulling or returning the mat samples to the rack, the task is expedited by a quick visual of this colored edge. Thus, if I were to look at a mat rack, the side closest to me would have colors at the top of the edge - yellow, green, red, orange, etc. - .....

and now that you mention it Ron, the color core's are most difficult in that the dark grays can look like black - just as the dark green. I suppose those could be left uncolored and sorted the 'old fashioned way' or.......colored with lighter shades of the same color? Hmmmmmmm.
I would like to think of a way to color code stock and/or usage.

Since we don't stock everything, I'd like to be able to see at a glance what I've used before, meaning that we likely have some of it left. If it is very close to something else we might have chosen for a given piece, then of course, go with what we already have in stock.

I have, in the past, put a small x on the back of the sample, but then I have to actually look at each sample to see if it is one we've used before.

always tweaking, tweaking, tweaking, to make things better!
To the color coding thing... I found paint markers work- I used reg. sharpies for most of the edges, but the paint marker will not disappear on the dark ones. Of course, the black has black marker on it, and the darker greens and blues have their respective colors, just paint markers. Another idea is to have the marks in a different spot on the edge (lower than the other marks) so you can go by that.

Now that your mat samples are all colored up (on one side only, mine are) you have to live with it. Not everyone likes their mat samples "all marked up" like that.

I can live with it.
I'm not sure this helps but after I get them sorted like I want I just do a thin diagonal line. It works to resort the samples but not trash the edges of the boards.
We use a colored separator made just larger than the samples. I'm sure Ron does his by number? Kidding.

I made up an excell sheet with the mat numbers with a guide which told me if I had over 1/2 sheet (x), 1/2 sheet (y) and smaller (z). I then stored them by size. That worked great until my other 1/2 came along and sorted them all another way. There went my good intentions. I do need to redo that system. Saved time and I'm sure money. I also had the number and approx size written on back top left corner with the color facing away so I could see the numbers.

Organizing left brained and right brained persons to think the same is almost impossible and gets worse the older we get.

Oh the days when we could remember the color names and numbers of all the mats...30 years ago...Cresant newport, barharbor, celery, white and black.
I mean this in the nicest way. However I have tried to avoid reading this thread for a long time. It is the thing I miss most about not having a shop anymore. I don't have any way to generate work to enter and while competing was a major fault of mine ( instead of learning to be a businessman) I do truly miss the competition here and everywhere else that I used to enter. I am only sorry I never won any recognition in a PPFA contest like Barb + Angie and Pam .But I will be watching the entries and do hope you havea popular choice categorie.
sorry I posted my reply for the competition in the wrong place. i have moved it. If I seemed stupid it was only because i am.
We print 1/2" lables on the color printer (I know it takes alot of ink)and put them over the sample edge ---for each of the color groups. We also put a black mark for those that come black core and mark the mats which come oversize on a little lable just below the color lable. In addition we lable our special mats with interlocking checks or other designs for easy returns. Where we place the lable on the sample edge tells us who the vendor of the mat. We do this inorder to be able to update corner sample from one vendor without pulling all the samples.

As for moulding, we place a color dot (per-printer from the office supply store)on the edge of the moulding. We use red for moulding which we can make a standard frame (depending on moulding width), blue on moulding which we could make two+ frames and green on regular stocking moulding that inventory is maintained. We also place a gold star on items which must be ordered chop.
Maybe I'm just stupid or something.... but isn't the color already on the face of a mat enough?

Or are you sorting by PRISM or PMS color code?

Don't you have any framing work to do?
I am a much, much faster designer at the counter when my mat samples are sorted by color in the racks, and have been put back in their same color family.

I used to get hung up on the different types of mats being in different spots, but again, it's not very efficient when designing.

Besides, Baer, not all of us have x-ray vision in our list of super powers.

( I use stickers on the side of my moulding samples, too)
I guess I just have that bad habit of grabbing the swatch book of the fabric I want, and sorting to the color.... and if they want to see a corner sample..
well, then I go looking.

If they want a paper mat... I just call out "Shar, you're needed at the front."... I let her deal with color and such.... then she just smacks me when they come running back to fabric. :D
Originally posted by JPete:
We use a colored separator made just larger than the samples. I'm sure Ron does his by number? Kidding.

Actually, JPete, I sort them pretty much like you.

I use separators according to the Bainbridge color wheel system from Kaye Evans and I use computer-printed labels to labels the back of each sample. The mat spreadsheet tracks full and partial sheets (if they are at least 32" on the short side - Otherwise they are scrap.) There's a list of equivalent boards from other manufacturers and that sorts by stock quantity.

So, if I do a search for Brand X 2345 and I have 1/2 sheet in stock, I'll discover that I have 5 sheets of brand Y 3791 and it's interchangeable.

None of this worked when I had a full-time framer working for me because:

  • She had her own ideas about how to organize mat and frame samples.</font>
  • She couldn't/wouldn't use the computer.</font>
Yes, I remember when our mat selection was 32 varieties of Crescent paper mats.
Baer, is now a good time to tell you how I integrated all my fabric mat samples into my mat racks, and colored on the edges so I would put them back in the right spot?

It's awfully purty, and isn't that distracting.. KIDDING! :D

Ron- holy cow, now that's a system!
Sorry to bring up an old thread...especially with my first post ^^;;;

But this is exactly what I'm dealing with at the new shop I work at.
We have differing ideas about how to sort mats (just by color, or isolating the fabrics etc) and it's up to me to figure it all out. I don't really think it's practical to give each a place number (like Michaels does) given the number of mats, but being able to know that a "yellow-green" mat should go back to "yellow-green" would help the other employees find that mat again.

I'd like to simplify--if that's even possible XD

I saw it mentioned about a list of interchangable mats.
Is that something my distributor can provide or do I need to type it all in?
Sounds like that could help weed out some corner samples of the same colors...maybe?
I just have all the reddish together and all the greenish together and so on. The colors face me and I design for the customer, they don't need to see the colors ((have been doin this for two years and seem to spend less time at the counter designing)tip I got in Vegas 05) I put all the mats together C, B, rag, fabric etc. I found that my employees would resist designing with more expensive mats if they had to go to a special place to get them. all is well.

I know that my local distributer has a list of interchangables(good word huh?)
This is a project that I need to do simply to weed out some corner samples. I just measured and I have about 21 inches of white and cream corner samples. Some of dem gots to be da same.
1) Use Bainbridge almost exclusively
2) Use the bainbridge coloring system, with their color wheel, shades/tones/etc
3) Arrange the colors using this system

Problem solved

And if you use Artique, Crescent, etc. keep them in a separate rack and/or ncorporate them into your Bainbridge system

No reason to mark/stripe or anyof that. The Bainbridge coloring system leads you from lightest to darkest. You gotta "fudge" the fabrics a bit because they're colored under a different system.

Only problem with above is: you have to constantly be sure the mats stay in their respective places. But a daily check of about ten minutes will do it
Thanks for the welcome!

I too think that color grouping is probably the best. And I TOTALLY agree with grouping styles by color. I only hunt for a "suede" or "linen" when I know exactly that that is the mat I want. Otherwise it's just "gotta find a good green" The probably with hunting for my mats (and we all have our 'go-to' mats I'm sure) is that I have no guarantee another employee stuck it back in the same color. Orange and Yellow/orange get kinda close. ^^
Maybe I should get double samples of the ones I like and make a "Matt's Mats" section.

Some of dem gots to be da same.

Exactly...and especially bad with white/cream/yellow. The only time I ever knew someone being so picky between the same color was a bride-to-be co-worker picking out fabric for dresses :rolleyes:
that's kinda what I've begun.
I pulled the Artique (easiest to find, big things aren't they) and have pulled the Crescent line aside too.
I have the Bainbridge in order and want to incorporate the rest somehow because there are some good colors in the other 2 lines.

I'm gonna contact my Larson rep and see if they have a sheet/xl doc or something about interchangables. That'd really help the combining.

I found that the Bainbridge # system get's them to the same basic group but has no bearing on tint/tone/shade alignment. Is that normal for a # system?
My only experience before this shop was my stint at a Michaels which renumbered they're selection to sorta go light to dark in each color.

I'm not trying to make too much maintenance work though. 450 mats at Michaels is ALOT easier to put in numerical order than...well I don't even want to count. :)
Welcome to the Grumble Matt. Idaho Dave has got it down pat Grouping 'Greenish' ones and 'Reddish'. Suede, leather, rag, linen, together. Works good for me also...
My mats are done the Bainbridge way, by the color wheel... and I've put the Artique ones in the same way. Color coded the sides (since other employees can't tell where they go) and everything has worked out great. Except my OCD goes nuts when mats aren't in their proper color home.:icon19:
Maybe I'm just stupid or something.... but isn't the color already on the face of a mat enough?

Don't you have any framing work to do?

To quote Baer from June of 2006....Don't you people have any framing to do?

The greens go with the greens and the reds go with the reds and so on and so forth, why try to make it more difficult than that????
Well ... some of us have our little secrets that help us overcome obstacles in life. There is a very narrow range of olivey greens that I have trouble with distinguishing from certain shades of brown. If I look at them long enough and move them into different lighting I can usually see quite a difference and in 5500 degree Kelvin light temperatures (noon sunlight) the problem pretty much disappears, but incandescents can wreck havoc on my color design credibility ...unless ...

The greens go with the greens and the browns go with the browns!!! And no more practical jokes to make me look stupider than I am!

Thank God the green traffic light means "go" because the red jumps out at me without a problem would be a bad thing if it was the other way around!

Do I see heads nodding?

Now if any one on this playground wants to get smart with me about my chosen profession I'll just have to let you in on a little secret of how I've overcome this only imperfection in my physical appearance and abilities and have somehow become considered a pretty darn good designer by my customers...

I can hear colors ... an awe inspiring symphony of matting design!

Oh wait ain't the '60's anymore ...


Would you believe I'm good at fakin' it? Perception is reality after all and I have been heard to mutter at the frame counter to a customer ..."Oh, I was just testin' ya'".


Dave Makielski
I have seven large racks of mat samples. I can't imagine a system that would be easier than finding approximate color/type/manufacturer in the specifier and pulling samples by number. Then refiling samples by manufacturer/type/number when finished.

My two cents.
This is such a funny thread.... I too marked the edges of my mat corners with the color but I was not the brightest bulb on the tree the day I did it - I wanted the marks to be on the side AWAY from the customer's view and my bassawkwards brain put them on the wrong side. It is much easier to put them back near where they belong - or I can see if one is out of it's area!!

They misbehave so often.... I wish I was a little more OCD about it... but I always can go to the swatchbook when I struggle to find one of the Runaway corner samples!!