Saturday, November 11, 2006

Paper sizes

Does anybody else get totally frustrated by the way paper comes in different sizes everywhere?

The reason I ask is that the way paper is sized in a country tends to influence the internal dimensions of the frames sold in that country. I try to work to standard sized frames for my smaller work on the principle that there are a lot of good ones out there now and most people really don't need the expense of custom frames for everything. Plus I'd far rather they spent their money on art than frames. (Did you ever wonder why sales of gallery wrapped canvas pieces took off? The answer - framing costs!)

Back to paper and paper sizes. There are big differences, for example:
  • Europe is now metric - so all paper and all standard frames tend to come in centimetres. The framer I use for exhibitions certainly works in metric.
  • .........except if you are a very old paper company in France - in which case you still size in inches
  • The ISO standard is based on metric - because that's what most of the world works in. But its principles regarding relationships between the height, the width and the area mean that sizes aren't round figures - see below
    The ISO paper sizes are based on the metric system. The square-root-of-two ratio does not permit both the height and width of the pages to be nicely rounded metric lengths. Therefore, the area of the pages has been defined to have round metric values. As paper is usually specified in g/m², this simplifies calculation of the mass of a document if the format and number of pages are known.

    ISO 216 defines the A series of paper sizes based on these simple principles:

    * The height divided by the width of all formats is the square root of two (1.4142).
    * Format A0 has an area of one square meter.
    * Format A1 is A0 cut into two equal pieces. In other words, the height of A1 is the width of A0 and the width of A1 is half the height of A0.
    * All smaller A series formats are defined in the same way. If you cut format An parallel to its shorter side into two equal pieces of paper, these will have format A(n+1).
    * The standardized height and width of the paper formats is a rounded number of millimeters
  • However, America is still using the "imperial" system and consequently works in inches still!
But of course!

All these different sizes tend to have an impact on the size you work at and the external dimensions of a mat. Here in Europe we are in that ideal situation of having suppliers from all over the world - who all seem to work to different sizes. [pfffffft!!!] Add in the fact that clients for your work might be located in different countries and, if they don't want to go down the very expensive custom framing route, the nature of the choice available to them might be different again.

It all adds up to having to make a choice...........and then you think again........and again.

All I know is different paper size sustems makes any idea of having standard external dimensions for mat sizes to suit customers located in different customers ABSOLUTELY *!!!$%£"& IMPOSSIBLE.

And after that small rant, I shall go back to cutting mats (NOT my favourite task) and think very seriously again about my framers offer to cut sets of mats to order for me! There again, at least it's not as expensive to have a mat recut to fit a standard sized frame. On the other hand........

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Darla, Pencil Portrait Artist said...

I also find this aggravating. I think there should be standard sizes. What really causes me trouble is the paper sizes versus mat and frame issues...trying to get them to work out well is very frustrating. It would be a lot easier if we could have standard mat opening sizes along with the papers. If Strathmore would start selling a piece of smooth Bristol in a mat and frame to fit perfectly, I would buy those up in an instant!
I bought 11x14" backing boards to go inside my 11x14 clear bags from and of course, I have to crop off the end of the backing board to go into the bag! Where do they think the backing boards are going to be used?!? Argh. See you are not alone, I could go on and on here and I see I already have. LOL!

Belinda Lindhardt said...

Katherine i am coming back to this post as i remember you had some good information on this. I am trying to work out what size to do one of my new pieces the link from this post isnt available do you still have this link to international paper sizes somewhere ??


Katherine said...

Here's the link Belinda International Paper sizes - ISO 216 system- I'll amend the post as well so that it works