Back Alley Gallery
What is Mat Shimmers®?
It is rare that a totally new concept is introduced to the Picture Framing Industry with such glamour and diversity of use. Mat Shimmers® is just that, a new concept that adds an elegant shimmering effect to a framed piece. They are highly polished tiny glass spheres made in the USA from recycled glass. When applied to a mat board, they refract light while the color of the mat board shines through resulting in a subtle shimmer effect. The Ideas Gallery highlights some applications. The actual instructions for application can also be viewed on this site. This concept was developed by a picture framer for picture framers to enhance both elegance and revenue.
The Starter Kit
This will include sufficient Mat Shimmers® and adhesive for an area coverage of 3 sq.ft. of mat board.
Price is $29 not including freight.
This will include sufficient Mat Shimmers® and adhesive for an area coverage of 9 sq.ft. of mat board.
Price is $72 not including freight.
Large size kits are available upon request including separate quantities for Mat Shimmers®
alone, adhesive alone, or for both together.
All pricing is subject to change.
Contact us for more information, to order your starter kit, or reorder supplies.
Phone: 847.362.2848 Fax: 847.362.2027
STEP 1. Cut the open V-groove on the top mat using a reverse bevel cut. Any style of open V-groove can be used and can be of any width that fits with the picture/art being framed. The reverse bevel is very important for several reasons:
The average thickness of 4-ply mat board is slightly more than the thickness of the Mat Shimmers®.
The Mat Shimmers® should be placed adjacent to, and up against, the edge of a mat board. If placed under a mat board, a buckle or "bump" in the mat board would be visible.
A reverse bevel serves as a "trapping area" within the open V-groove area to contain any Mat Shimmers® that might become loose during assembly and handling. This "trapping area is complete when the glazing (glass) is placed on top. A standard bevel would allow loose Mat Shimmers® to be visible on the beveled edge. If there is any concern that the final appearance is still not elegant enough, French matting lines can still be applied on any mat layer(s).
If 6-ply or 8-ply boards are used with the 4-ply sized Mat Shimmers®, then a full 24 hour dry time after adhering is recommended to minimize any possibility of loosening any Mat Shimmers® during assembly or handling. Also, Mat Shimmers® are available in 6-ply and 8-ply diameters, but they do yield a substantially different finished appearance and experimentation is recommended prior to making commitments on larger sizes.
STEP 2. Align all the cut mat board layers. In this example, only two mat boards were used.
The open V-groove chosen was a decorative style using a reverse bevel cut. The corners were removed and later inserted against the bottom mat on the picture for an added decorative result.
With the top and bottom mat boards aligned (but not fastened) use a mechanical lead pencil to draw very light lines on the bottom mat in all the open areas of the V-groove. Then remove the top mat.
STEP 3. Tape all the outside and inside edges of the lines drawn on the bottom mat using removable tape
The reason for the tape is to be able to apply the adhesive with a brush and still have clean straight edges that align to the reverse beveled cuts of the mat board. The removable tape used for this example is a 3M Scotch Removable Magic Tape No. 811. When completed, the tape should be along the inside perimeter of the V-groove and all along the outside perimeter so that the surface area of the open V-groove is ready to receive a layer of Mat Shimmers® Adhesive.
Important Note: Build a box with about 1" deep sides large enough to hold the bottom mat before starting STEP 4. In fact, it will helpful to read STEPS 4 and 5 before proceeding ahead.
STEP 4. Apply the Mat Shimmers® Adhesive to the open V-groove area(s).
If there is any "tricky" part of this whole process, it is now, on this step. How much adhesive is too much? Too much could bury the Mat Shimmers® waist deep which will dull the refractivity of light. Too little and they may come loose. Just right?
Help note 1: Experiment first and practice on strips of scrap mat board. Pour some adhesive onto a piece of scrap mat board to use as a palette. Use a thin flat paint brush to dip into the adhesive and apply enough to the practice strip so that the Mat Shimmers® are about ¼ of their diameter deep in the adhesive. Try several strips with various amounts of adhesive and pour some Mat Shimmers® on – then hold the strips sideways to view how deep the Mat Shimmers® sit in the adhesive to learn. It may be helpful to let the adhesive dry for about 15-30 minutes to see the results. Note how quickly the adhesive begins to set up.
Help note 2: The adhesive is white in appearance when wet, but dries clear. However, if applied too thick, it can "wick" up the sides of the Mat Shimmers® and give a white appearance when dry because it is too thick.
Help note 3: The Mat Shimmers® adhesive also absorbs quickly into the mat board. It begins to absorb and dry as soon as it is applied, so the time between application and adding the Mat Shimmers® should be as short as "practically" possible. Small pieces are generally not an issue. With large pieces (20x24 and larger), having two people working in harmony – one applying the adhesive and the other adding the Mat Shimmers™ - can be quite helpful. In any case, practice is essential.
STEP 5. Add the Mat Shimmers® to the wet adhesive with the mat board placed in a box.
WAIT! If you do this step on a flat work bench without a box, you will be cursing relentlessly! The box will contain loose Mat Shimmers® which tend to bounce all over. Any loose Mat Shimmers® left on the work bench should be removed before framing the piece. A soft frame and frames with smooth surfaces could become damaged if rolled on them.
Adding the Mat Shimmers®
Fill a cup or small container with about 5 times as many Mat Shimmers® than you think you will need. Use a large plastic spoon and begin to spoon-drop them onto the wet adhesive. Pile them up about 4-5 diameters high so it looks like a line mound on top of the open V-groove.
When the open V-groove is covered with Mat Shimmers®, immediately take the plastic spoon and move it back and forth toward and away from the picture area with only light pressure. The objective is to get the Mat Shimmers® to one level high (one diameter thick) in the entire open V-groove. This will take several minutes to continue around the surface perimeter lightly wiping away using the spoon only.
By now you will be tempted to use your fingers to wipe away or pick at some of the Mat Shimmers®. If you do, you may cause some of them to smear the adhesive leaving an undesirable effect (Try it on the practice strips to see). The smooth surface of the plastic spoon with only light pressure does not smear the bottom layer.
Once most of the undesirable levels of Mat Shimmers® are removed, the adhesive is dry enough to tilt the bottom mat at a slight angle in the box to look at it from the side. If there are still some Mat Shimmers® sticking up above the base level, use the outside edge of the plastic spoon to pick them off. This would also be a good time to add additional Mat Shimmers® to any open spaces that may be missing some.
Side note: You may have noticed that the Mat Shimmers® vary slightly in diameter and that the lay down pattern is not uniform. This is natural and by design. There are ways to screen for exact diameters and for perfect lay down patterns, but both are expensive. After experimenting with both, I have achieved perfect diameters with perfect lay down patters and the final appearance is less attractive than a more random pattern with slight variation in size. You may wish to experiment to determine your own opinions. It is also important to remember that this entire process is not the focal point, the picture or artwork is the focal point and this process can be compared to using a fillet, but with more enhancing effects.
After about three (3) minutes of drying, turn the mat board upside down and gently tap on the bottom to let all other loose Mat Shimmers® fall into the box Then take the mat board over to a garbage can and, while tilted, remove the tape and let any other loosened Mat Shimmers® fall into the garbage with the tape. All of them were in contact with the adhesive and should not be reused. Those that fell into the box, however, can be gathered up and returned to a storage container for use on another project.
When you are satisfied that all the tape is removed, place the mat board back into the box and continue to examine it for void spaces or double high mountings. A toothpick is handy to help remove double high mountings or to add a spot of adhesive and spoon on some additional Mat Shimmers®.
When satisfied and completed, let it dry for one hour. The adhesive will appear white when wet and becomes clear when dry. It can be handled and framed when clear. Yet, full drying time is about 6-8 hours. A small fan with a gentle breeze can also be a handy addition.
STEP 6. Complete the framing.
Add the top mat and remove (pick off) any Mat Shimmers® that extend below the surface of the top mat. Complete framing
GLAZING. It is recommended that only the highest grade UV protected glass with the least amount of reflection be used in a Mat Shimmers® project. The Mat Shimmers® need as much light as possible to penetrate them and refract the light so the color of the mat is reflected out. A high gloss, highly reflective glass will reflect some light away and the viewer not see the full benefit of what Mat Shimmers® can provide. A non-glare, or contact clarity, glass is not recommended since it fully defeats the purpose for using Mat Shimmers®.
Shadow Box Instructions
This particular piece of art is an original by artist Cynthia Conte who gave permission to cut and mount it for use with Mat Shimmers®. Any print will work in the same manner.
STEP 1. Assemble a shadow box with Tru-Vue Museum glass:
Foam core and mat board liner strips are sized and cut for penetration depth of back (bottom) mat. Foam core strips are "ATG'd" against inside of frame to hold Museum/AR glass in frame. Color mat strips are then "ATG'd" to the foam core.
STEP 2. Cut bottom (background) mat.
STEP 3. Cut cold mount board to fit bottom mat and adhere mat to the cold mount board.
STEP 4. Size another mat board to the picture or artwork that will be floated on top of the bottom mat. Mat board was used instead of foam core to show less thickness when viewing from any edge side. In fact, the mat board was undersized to the picture/art by about 1/8" on all sides.
STEP 5. Adhere the picture (art) to the mat board: Since an original piece of art was used in this demonstration, the artist gave permission to trim the piece to make it a true rectangle and to permanently mount it. Consequently, a cold mount material was used for mounting because the inks used by the artist would melt under a hot mount process.
The cold mount used comes on a roll from Coda, Inc. and was applied by hand. The adhesive cover sheet was then removed and the art mounted.
STEP 6. The mounted piece of art is now centered on the bottom shadow box mat board:
At this point, a float foam core piece is sized and cut so that it is 1" smaller than the artwork on all sides. Said differently, it should be recessed in by 1" all around. Center this float foam core piece to the bottom mat and use a pencil to draw a light line all around it. Then draw another light line ½" beyond the edge of the foam core. This is a "critical step". The reason for the 1" recess from the artwork and the ½" line beyond the float foam board is a very critical long-term benefit to the customer. The ½" space around the float mount foam board is for later application of a ½" strip of super tack ATG to surround the foam core. The purpose is to create a "Mat Shimmer®" trap for any Mat Shimmers™ that become loose during the handling and assembly process. The tacky strip will trap any loose shimmers by simply rotating the entire framed piece on its sides to force the shimmers by gravity into the trap area. Do not attach the foam core float piece yet.
STEP 7. Now apply any removable tape:
Note 1. – For smaller areas of Mat Shimmer® application like an open V-groove or other fancy cuts, a single application of adhesive using a thin paint brush is sufficient.
Note 2. – The reason for adhering the bottom mat to the cold mount board was learned through experience. With larger application areas, the adhesive soaks into a 4-ply mat board and will cause the board to warp considerably as it drys. An 8-ply mat board may not have this issue, but color selections are more limited with thicker ply mat boards.
To apply the first coat of Mat Shimmer® Adhesive, you will need a small paint roller (any hardware store can provide). No need to buy a paint tray because it is much simpler to make what you need. With a piece of cardboard and some stretch wrap (or plastic bag), wrap the plastic around the cardboard. Pour some adhesive on it to sufficiently wet the roller and apply to the bottom mat board that was taped-off with removable tape. Let dry until clear.
STEP 9. Once the first coat is dry, lay it down inside of a box that has a lip about 1" high all around the edges. Once you begin to pour the Mat Shimmers® on the glued surface, they will bounce all around and the box allows you to contain them and capture them for use on another project.
Place your pre-coated mat board in the box. Next to the box place a cup full of Mat Shimmers®, a plastic spoon, the adhesive bottle, the cardboard wrapped in plastic, and the small paint roller – all close at hand. Pour a healthy portion of adhesive on the plastic coated cardboard and wet the roller well. Pour a line of adhesive on the pre-coated area of the mat board and coat the surface again. The visible thickness of the white adhesive should be a solid coat of white – do not apply to thin, yet not so heavy that it would drip off if tilted.
Time is critical in this step, because as you apply the adhesive, it is already beginning to set up. So apply it over the entire surface quickly and smoothly and then – immediately - take a cup full of Mat Shimmers® and begin pouring them all over the glued surface. Put them on thick, several layers thick. You need about 2-3 times as many Mat Shimmers® to apply for a single layer to remain glued to the area.
Now take the rounded part of the plastic spoon and slowly work the beads off the surface area in a circular motion with very little pressure applied. This allows the Mat Shimmers® to fill in as close to each other as possible while the glue is wet. This achieves maximum density of the Mat Shimmers®. You will be tempted to use your fingers or hands – don't – glue will stick to you and you will make a mess, trust me.
After it appears that the Mat Shimmers® are down to a single layer thick, wait about 1-2 minutes. Then tilt the mat board into the retaining box and let all loose Mat Shimmers® spill into it. Continue tilting until it is upside down over the box and tap lightly. Return it right side up and lay it flat. Examine the surface for obvious areas that might be more than on layer thick and use the spoon to gently pick them off. Also look for obvious gaps and spoon some into the gaps and tap with the spoon. Looking at the mat while tilted 90 degrees clearly highlights spots with more than single layers. But be careful not to hold in that 90 degree tilted position too long because the adhesive is still wet and some Mat Shimmers™ can slide.
Now take the bottom mat to a large opening garbage can and while tilting it slightly, remove the removable tape while the adhesive is still wet. This will leave a nice straight line on the inside of the bottom mat. Set aside and let dry – about 1 hour.
Gather up all the remaining Mat Shimmers® that fell into the box and store for use on another project. Do not retain those that fall off while removing the removable tape since they had contact with the adhesive and tend to remain as clumps.
STEP 10. Last step: Assembly:
When the adhesive is dry, the color of the mat board will come through the Mat Shimmers® which will also refract light at different angles. Apply a ½" line of super tack ATG along the inside perimeter of the Mat Shimmers®. Adhere the float board to the bottom mat in whatever fashion you choose. Alternating lines of super tack ATG and silicon work well. Similarly, attach the artwork to the float board. Then assemble the entire piece to the shadow box, paper the back, wore it and "viola" – you are done! Congratulations!
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