How do you frame a large map?
March 2, 2010 7:28 PM   Subscribe

How do you frame a large map?

I wanted to mat and frame a piece of a wall map that's about 30 inches wide by 33 inches high, ideally with a pink mat. (I'd rather have the mat cut professionally than do it myself.) The map is laminated already.

Unfortunately, every framing place I've looked at that custom-cuts mats uses mat boards that are available only up to a maximum size of 32"x40", not big enough in the smaller dimension. Does anyone sell larger mats? Failing that, what's the best alternative way to frame a large map?
posted by Ery to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Have you gone to a dedicated framing store, or just looked up stuff online? I've brought some odd stuff to my framer and never been turned away. As long as it's a real framer and not a half-ass operation in the corner of a photomat (or whatever), they'll take care of you.
posted by telegraph at 7:37 PM on March 2, 2010

I don't know what their maximum size is, but the Michaels here in town has been running 40% off custom framing for the last few weeks, and the web site is advertising 60% off. It looks like there are several in your area, so it might be worth giving them a call and see what they can handle.
posted by niles at 7:57 PM on March 2, 2010

Okay, this might be a dumb answer.

But if the maximum dimensions of the mat are 32"x40", and your map is 33"x30"... can you just, um, turn it sideways? Does which dimension is height and which is width actually matter for matting and framing? You can still hang it on the wall in any orientation you like, obviously.

I get the feeling that this might not answer the question you're actually asking.
posted by magnificent frigatebird at 8:10 PM on March 2, 2010

Best answer: I would look at doing something like this: Have the mat maker cut two "L' shaped half mats of the biggest dimension s/he can make, beveling the ends to a forty-five degree angle. Place one across the top and down, say, the left side of the map. Place the other across the bottom and up the right side. This will leave you with gaps between the two pieces. Have more "L" shaped pieces made of a complimentary color. Place these behind the first pieces so they fill in the open spaces and look like you made the mat this way on purpose. Discuss this with the mat maker for ways to make this look more and more like a design motif. Bevel the edges of the mats, etc. It can look good!
posted by Old Geezer at 9:14 PM on March 2, 2010

Lamination, ewww. I hope this isn't a historic or valuable map, lamination is basically destroying the archival quality. And it makes it much more difficult to mount a map. Many maps like this are drymounted (heat sealed to a mat board with waxy adhesive) but that's not very archival, and you can't do that now anyway.

I'm working with an artist who is producing huge 44x66in inkjet prints, he has them mounted to aluminum panels. But that's really expensive and this is expensive fine art so it's a negligible part of the expense. You really should see a professional framer about this. But I hate to say it, you're kinda screwed, because a laminated map can only really be "floated" in under a mat, it can't really be properly glued down flat, so it's always going to have ripples, especially at the edges of the mat, where there will be gaps and it will look ugly. Sorry.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:20 PM on March 2, 2010

magnificent frigatebird: the mat is a border, and thus has to be bigger than the map, probably by at least 2 inches or so on each side, so she needs a mat at least 34"x 37" -- 1" around is a very small mat, especially for a something that size.
posted by brainmouse at 10:07 PM on March 2, 2010

Best answer: You can get 40" by 60" mats (in limited colors). Take it to a brick and mortar frame shop, they should be able to get a big mat for you.
posted by samw at 11:18 PM on March 2, 2010

Best answer: For non historical/valuable maps (ie: a working map), I suggest you consider going "old school"...

Laminate the map, then attach two half round dowels to the top and bottom edges. The half dowels are connected by nice brass hardware (nut, screw cup, lock washer, bolt) which also attaches leather strips with brass rings for hanging at the top, and two longer strips at the bottom for tying the map up when it is rolled.

Alternatively, a similar approach that may be taken with a more valuable map, is to use an archival cloth backing and then two brass rods (like this).

Both of these techniques give maps a classic look and are eminently practical for both display and storage.
posted by fairmettle at 2:27 AM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

It seems I need to reiterate: please do not laminate valuable or historic documents. Just don't. It's a permanent thing and it will totally prevent future conservation methods. You should not do anything irreversible to valuable paper documents like drymounting and laminating.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:57 AM on March 3, 2010

Response by poster: Don't worry, the map is currently in print, not of historic importance and of no archival value. Nobody here has recommended laminating any historic or valuable documents.

I'm very happy to learn that 40"x60" mat boards exist. Thanks, samw. Even if I go to an expensive framer, I want to have an idea first of what they can do. Now I know that if the first place I go to says they can't do mats that big, all I have to do is go elsewhere. In addition, finding that there's a standard 60" size helped me locate an old discussion elsewhere of oversize mats, which gives more options.

fairmettle's "old school" method isn't quite suitable to the location where I want to put the map, but it's a very good alternative for this sort of piece.
posted by Ery at 7:05 AM on March 3, 2010

« Older What would I need to know to be an archivist?   |   bittorrent won't work on Macbook Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.