Prepping for The Painted Photograph Exhibit

Hi everyone! Jen Perena here, using this weird limbo time in between Christmas and New Years while the Photo Dept is closed to prep for my upcoming exhibit.

I spent some time the week before Christmas scanning all of my kallitypes. I still have some editing to do, but the goal is to prepare digital files (essentially coming full circle, as all the images started as digital photos on my iPhone!) which I can use to make a book or a zine.

Scanning my kallitypes

I’m not that great with Photoshop, but Megan showed me how to crop and edit my files for a book versus what to do for a zine. My goal with this task is to prepare something that will be available while my exhibit is running, though I am not sure I’ll be able to finish in time for the opening.

Editing scans
Editing scans of my kallitypes in Photoshop

Then just after Christmas I started matting and framing. This is the most labor-intensive part of the exhibit prep: cleaning all the glass, measuring all the prints, cutting all the mats, assembling the ‘sandwiches’, and putting the frames together. Without messing it up!

cleaning glass
Washing the glass: my least favorite part about matting and framing, though it can be a good workout!

I know a lot of people would hire someone else to do this part, but it’s not the way I was ‘raised’ by Pearl and Glossy. Though tedious, it makes the difference in how the entire show looks once it’s up on the wall.

For this exhibit, all of the images, which are pretty close to 8×10 size, will be matted and framed to size 16×20. I was hoping to have a total of 20 images, but looks like I will have a few more. I was fortunate to be able to borrow some framing supplies so I didn’t have to purchase all new frames and glass….and that was actually a huge $$ savings.

matting supplies
Matting supplies: two-ply and four-ply mat board, and flat black Nielsen metal frames, in 16 and 20 inch pieces

These photos are from last week when I framed the first six prints. That session lasted about 4 hours….which was an hour longer than expected (I usually do one frame in about 30 min), in part because I sliced my finger while cleaning a piece of glass (Pat Cain would be so mad at me!) and had to get bandaged (and clean up the blood) before proceeding…. and in part because it’s been over a year, and it takes a bit to get back into a flow of remembering how the mat cutters work and how to put frames together.

measuring mats
Marking the mat boards in preparation for cutting

The mat cutters can be tricky buggers. You need a sharp blade, adjusted to the correct depth, pieces of foam core lined up to the side so the large mat board lays flat and doesn’t bend, and a ‘clean’ piece of board underneath where you are cutting. And putty – don’t forget the putty! Otherwise the cutter slides around all over the table.

cutting mats
Using the Alto mat board cutters to hand cut all my mats

I managed OK for the first few, but then started to see burrs on the beveled edge – indicating either blade depth was off, or the blade was getting blunted, or the paper underneath was too chewed up, allowing paper fibers to pull up into the bevel cut – or it could have also been all three; In the end the clean line I was seeking was not happening, and I had to sacrifice several pieces of my beautiful white four-ply mat while I continued to troubleshoot.

inspecting the beveled edge
Inspecting the beveled edge and smoothing out the little rough bits

Thankfully friends were able to help me with some tips and techniques, showing me some things I had forgotten (like using an emery board to file small burrs off the beveled edge), and by the time I am writing this post, 17 of the prints are matted and framed to my satisfaction. This is good AND bad news, since I still have 7 more to go and we were planning to start hanging the show on Wed, Jan 2…..

Anyway, I hope to finish the matting and framing in time….then we need to fine tune labels, finalize my show statement, and plan out refreshments for the opening – Saturday, January 12 from 2 to 5 pm. I hope you can all make it!

In the meantime, head over to Instagram and check out the @i.heart.roc feed – I’m taking it over starting tomorrow (New Years Day!) through January 4th, and I’ll be sharing some of my favorite places and things in Rochester.

Best wishes to you all for a Very Happy New Year!