Matboard Schmatboard

Jay H

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I have a few issues in the store here with matboards. The problems fall into two main categories.

1) Why do I have 5000 corner samples when there are only probably 2000 different colors?
2) How do you store that many different mats and be able to find them again later?

What sparked this is when I called yesterday and ordered 15 Black TruVue mats. They called me back and told me they only had 4! “There is no way you only have 4 black TruVue mats.” I exclaimed. They agreed that this didn’t sound right and decided to look closer as the computer told them they had 50. Sure enough they found them in a Crescent box. I noticed this morning that they are stamped Crescent on the back. I assume this is because Crescent is making TruVue now. Well is this to now say that the two products are EXACTLY the same? If yes then I would like to have a cross-reference chart or computer program that can tell me what colors are the same between all mat brands.

For example I pulled a Crescent Select bluish mat. It is 9553. This mat is the same as Crescent Rag 1550, TruVue 3362, and Artique A4843. I’m sure Bainbridge has one of those blues too but I haven’t opened those yet. They even ALL come in 40X60. It never fails when somebody wants to frame a $5 poster they will grab my Rags and “help” me pick a color (I don’t mind plus I encourage customers to touch the mat and moulding samples). If a final color happens to be a rag sample I will find the Alpha-cell brother and use that instead. I might be willing to sort my mats by color rather than brand but that would put 5 of the same colors beside each other.

I know that there are subtle differences in the boards. I like having the option of finding a slightly different color by going to a different board, BUT there are tons of colors that are identical.

Finally I have a mat bin that has about 25 slots that is exactly the width of my Wizard (that’s where C3PO sits). I am having a hard time finding a system of storing/sorting different matboard types. I think I am just going to allot each type I typically order 8 or so slots. I’m not venting or whining I’m just getting getting overwhelmed by matboards and need to get these things under control $oon.
 

Ron Eggers

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Jay, Jay, Jay,

Expect outages of Tru-Vue boards during, and after, the transition. Surely, some of them are going to be discontinued, but we'll be the last to know which ones. In anticipation, I am phasing out the marginal ones and stocking up on the ones that I just have to stock.

There is a lot of overlap between the Crescent Select and the Crescent Rag. I truly believe that they are both archival, but I lean toward the rag (for no logical reason.)

I have been working for a couple of decades to cross-reference colors between vendors. I really try to avoid duplications and have narrowed my stock selection to about 500 that I think are unique.

When I get a matboard shipment in, I print little labels with the number and the color name and put them on the upper corner of the boards so I can find them easily without everyone having their own slot. I have them sorted by manufacturer and then by number and I keep a running inventory of stock. I actually only have six "slots" (big ones) for about 800 sheets of board. I keep each compartment full so the boards don't bow.

You can avoid the duplication problem by stocking just one brand of board. If I HAD to do that, it would be Bainbridge, but I don't have to do it, so I stock from four manufacturers.
 

FrameMakers

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First off, do you realy need 4 mat brands. Do you need both paper and c/p boards. This must be close to 100 different shades of white (and none of them brite enough to match today's digital papers).

I only sell c/p boards, and have culled out the dupes, keeping the brand I prefer to cut.

Handling the mat drops can be the most profitable area of your shop. I keep full sheets seperate from the drops, and every thing in numerical order.
DSCN0001.jpg

The full sheets are on the bottom, and drops on the upper 2 shelfs. Those are specifiers on the door.
DSCN0002.jpg

I don't keep anything under 12". Note the markings on the vertical. this lets me see the size of the board at a glance.
 

Jill

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Omro WI
Jay

Check with your Larson Juhl rep. Mine was very happy to send me the Larson Juhl substitution list, on stickers no less, so I could put it right on the samples.
 

Jerry Ervin

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North Carolina ... The Picture Frame Capital of th
Originally posted by Ron Eggers:

You can avoid the duplication problem by stocking just one brand of board. If I HAD to do that, it would be Bainbridge, but I don't have to do it, so I stock from four manufacturers.
Just out of curiosity, why Bainbridge? I am thinking about going to Crescent only.
 

Jay H

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Now that is an impressive mat storage unit. I don't show paper and have never ordered one. Almost all my mats are fallouts as I stock very very few mats. But I do want to make good use of fallouts to make it profitable for me.

Back to the samples though.

“…do you really need 4 mat brands.”
Yes…..No….. Ummm I mean I don’t want too. I like having that many for options. For stocking/storing purposes it’s a nightmare. In my example above I first grabbed a mint color (Select). No other brand came close to that color. Then next one I grabbed was a pink. Again not another brand had the same color. So that makes me think that its ok to have them, but I would like to limit how many are in arms reach of me or my customers. I like Crescent and TruVue, but soon they will be the same line (my guess). I really don’t want to show Bainbridge and Artique. I guess I’m saying that I like having them but don’t think its necessary. Now as soon as I figure out which ones I can hands down live without its outta here. Of coarse remember that Ron has been around for a while and a company has to absolutely close down before he will throw their moulding sample away.

Do you use specifiers to "swap" brands? BTW that is the best idea I have seen. I will dig my specifiers out and hang them before I do another thing. Thanks!
 

Bob Doyle

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Originally posted by Jerry Ervin:
Just out of curiosity, why Bainbridge? I am thinking about going to Crescent only.
I don't know about other framers but I prefer the "feel" of cutting Bainbridge. Crescent feels like fingernails on chalkboard! And not to knock Crescent but I find alot of Schmutz and flotsam floating and hiding under the surface of Crescent boards.

So why do I carry and show them, They have great colors! so much more vivid that Bainbridge. So I show crescent and live with the "issues" because the results can be worth it in the end.
 

Ron Eggers

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Bainbridge has the most extensive line of "archival" boards - roughly the size of Crescent, Tru-Vue and Artique combined. The AlphaRag line is huge and growing. The silks and other fabrics are fantastic. And, perhaps, most important, I believe the Zeolite technology actually works to protect the art from environmental pollutants (just don't ask me to prove it.)

My major complaint with Bainbridge is that they discontinue boards faster than most of us can keep track of them and they are sometimes rather casual about letting us know. Their discontinued list on their website was last updated more than a couple of years ago. I think that's inexcusable - but I guess I excuse it 'cause I love the product.
 

Peter Bowe

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Saline, MI
Selection has a price. The sheet cost of matboard is secondary to the cost of processing the mat. If you offer 18 variants of black matboard - 3 companies, 3 paper, 3 rag - then you time spent selling, sorting, ordering, putting away and retrieving will be significant.

By limiting the number of samples we show we can streamline the whole process. If I use B8517 everytime I need a basic black I save considerable handling time and I use much more of each sheet I purchase.

We stock the entire Bainbridge Alpha/ArtCare line and about 25 selected Crescent/Artique SKU's. 5 years ago we showed all Crescent& Bainbridge paper & rag.

Shrinking the selection seemed like a big deal as we did it but it was painless in retrospect. Our customers haven't noticed but our bottom line has.

Peter Bowe
Saline Picture Frame Co.
 

FrameMakers

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Eric,
No it's actually 22 feet, but remember I'm cutting mats for four stores.
 

shopmonkey cpf

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we have much the same setup as dave does (we are 4 stores) about 12 or so feet 2 levels plus a dozen or so 40x60 slots. we carry most everything of bainbridge and crescent and artique. if i had my druthers it'd be just bainbridge and crescent---vetted for duplicates.
 

Rob Markoff

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shopmonkey-

Why don't you like Artique? Have you considered that it may be better priced @ wholesale than some of the other brands, or that when offered a selection of similar mat colors (and only viewed from the face) that retail customers will more often than not select the Artique color over other similar colors fom other manufacturers?
 

Baer Charlton

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Right Rob, We have found the same to be true up here in Portland (OR). Artique rocks when the customers go poking through our 3,800 corners.....
Last summer we discarded 214 "White" samples....
Come on people! How many WHITES or BLACK do I need. So my answer to the whole shooting match and the 8,000 pounds of mat board and drop-outs in the back bins.... I sell Fabric Wrap.... the first year we made a concious effort to sell fabric mats, we grew the gross income by 28% and the net profite 17% and were named one of Decor's top 100. And that was with selling only 9% of all mats sold as hand layed fabric. This year we are on line for 15% fabric mats, and we have made a huge push to get rid of our paper mats and sell nothing but archival. $9 paper mat nets you $6 profit, but a $18 rag, nets you $12, and a hand wrapped silk @ $48 nets you $32.... It's all about cash flow...
baer
 

Jay H

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Well I assume that in order to sell that many Fabric Wrapped mats that you have some killer displays haning in frames. Do you have some sort of display showing off the fabrics you offer? Have you made "corner samples" similar to regular mat samples? This is an intresting idea. I like doing fabric mats but haven't "pushed them". Reading your post made me think that maybe I should create a display.
 

nona powers

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I'm very biased, and will admit it, but the zeolite technology does work as the scientist from The Getty explained in DECOR a few months back. You need to have it in the housing in order to truly give the customer protection for their art. The matboard just being C/P quality is not enough, if it can also provide added protection.

Bainbridge is constantly giving us new mat boards to choose from, which I like because so far they are coming out with some great stuff. The people who distribute it cannot have an unlimited amount of board on hand, so the trade off is Bainbridge tries something, it doesn't work, or no longer works, doesn't sell, and they discontinue it to try something else.

I also don't understand the hand wrap fabric thing. I love the white bevel edge on the white Alphalinen and I don't have to worry about putting a fabric on a cor that is probably not C/P quality, use a glue that may not be C/P quality plus take the extra time to get the covered bevel look, which if the corners aren't perfect, and few that I have seen are, then what is the advantage to that look? Hand wrap means more money involved in producing and more time, but I sell the AlphaLinen for a good profit because it takes much less time and a more quality product, complelty c/p quality and it has zeolites. I use the AlphLinens and AlphaDenims and I don't have to worry about any of it and I doubt most customers would preffer the hand wrapped look. They want the texture of the fabric and really, would the bevel make that much of a difference? Sorry, but this is just one little thing I have never understood.

Gotta run, if this needs editing, I will do it later. OK? I'm not a natural speller, need my old spell check and don't have time right now to do it.

Take care everyone...
Nona Powers, CPF
www.nonapowers.com
 

JFeig

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Nona

There are times where I prefer the "softer edge" of a hand wrapped linen mat.


BTY, if you wash the linen first to remove the sizing it will be fine. I relize that the Zeolites are not in the fabric.

As for the Bainbridge fabric mats, are the fabrics washed of their sizing prior to attachment to the boards?
 

Jay H

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I didn’t clarify “hand wrapped” enough. I have only experimented with “wrapping” mats. What I typically do is drymount fabric on board and then cut it as usual. It still leaves the core showing. I have done this several times and the two latest times one was a leopard pattern and the other was material used on some drapes in a baby’s room. So it’s not just the ability to put fabric on a mat that I find important but it is the ability to put YOUR fabric on a mat.

I really never thought that this discussion would head toward C/P theory but I welcome it. Like Ron and you, I actually find this stuff interesting too. I would like to know more than anybody about the quality of framing materials. It truly makes me a better framer. However I think we get a little carried away with this.

A personal interest of mine is old photo albums. I love these things. I love the photo corners on the scrapbook type. The ornate pages of the older ones (the kind with ovals cut in the page with a slot at the bottom where the picture slides in) are amazing. This is a product you simply can’t find these days. I use them too. You know what? They are LOADED with acid. The black pages could probably cook an egg. But the photos that have been stored in them from 1930, or longer, are in reasonably good shape. Discolored a little but not ruined by any stretch of the imagination. So I have a hard time conserning myself with what type of glue is being used on a mat that is 1/8 away from a photo and separated by an Alpha cel board.

Finally the customer is really receiving a custom product. They know this and are happy to pay a premium for it. I’m happy to let them pay for it. (I usually like the way it turns out too)
 

wpfay

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Nona,
My understanding of the use of fabric in the frame package is:
Unbleached, washed, 100% cotton muslin is pretty much the only acceptable fabric.
Buffered PVA glue or acrylic gel media are accepted adhesives for the fabric.
Dyed, sized, or otherwise treated fabrics are compromising the C/P status of the frame package.

Does Bainbridge make the claim that their linen (which contains lignin in its natural form) is of C/P quality, and are all of the dyes used in their colored fabrics also considered C/P? It would be very valuable to have independent corroboration if that is the claim.

Arguing aesthetics is pointless; the white bevel you find attractive might well be distracting in certain applications. I personally find the cut edge a particular challenge, especially if the fabric is not exactly parallel to the edge of the cut.

Assuming that the fabrics used are created equal, I find that wrapping my own mats allows for greater variety of textures and colors and I am not limited to the thickness of manufactured fabric-covered boards. Given that I use only Bainbridge Artcare Alpharag for the substrate and what I have learned to be acceptable adhesives to attach the fabrics I would challenge the notion that the Bainbridge fabrics are any more C/P than the ones I wrap.
 

nona powers

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Hi Wally, by the way, there is movement in FACTS, which will be announced soon.

I'm not questioning the choice to do a hand wrapped fabric if that is what is really needed and of course for a custom matching of fabric, yes, sometimes the softer bevel is better, but I think my points are valid for most fabric mats. The texture is the design element, not the covered bevel. That is, of course my aesthetic opinion and I like the precovered ones because it means less work for me, which usually means more profit.

The Bainbridge AlphaLinen and AlphaDenim are completely C/P quality, and have Artcare, (zeolites). The fabric has been treated to be lignin free, the dye meets the exact same standards their Alphamat and Alpharag meets as to light fastness, bleed resistance and are PH neutral. The glue used to adhere the fabric also meets C/P quality standards.


FACTS is going to address the problem of knowing which fabric are safe in the housing, next to the art and which are not. It's one of the committees that will be working very soon.

There is always a need for decorative framing and I totally accept that. If a hand wrapped fabric is best, then use it, BUT, if you can end up with a quality looking fabric mat that will age well, isn't that better than one that will stain itself and age badly, especially if the per unit cost is about the same? If one of you who are good at numbers would crunch the figures for a hand wrapped linen fabric on a regular core board, glued down with whatever versus an AlphaLinen, with the time factored in to do the cutting, gluing and hand wrapping versus just cutting the AlphaLinen, I would just about bet if there is a difference, it would be on the side of the AlphaLinen. It’s also important to realize that sloppy corners on a hand wrapped mat ruin the look completely and it is very hard to get good corners.

By the way, the Bainbridge suede does not meet C/P quality standards nor does anyone elses mostly because of the color permanence and the non bleeding and in some cases the acid content.

Nona Powers, CPF
www.nonapowers.com
 
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