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Matting and Framing Options

Lesson 47 from: Introduction to Alternative Processing in Photography

Daniel Gregory

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Lesson Info

47. Matting and Framing Options


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Overview of the Alternative Process


Overview of the Digital Negative Process


Working with Black and White Digital: What You Need


Working With Black and White Digital Images: Color Settings


Working with Black and White Digital Images Lightroom


Working With Black and White Digital Images Photoshop


Working With Black and White Digital Images 3rd Party Plug-ins


Avoiding Key Artifacts


Creating the Step Wedge for Curve Corrections


Organizing Your Adobe® Photoshop® Files and Curves


Setting Up the Printer


Lab Safety and Workspace Set-Up


Setting the Maximum Black Time


Getting the Initial Curve Test Numbers


Correcting the Curve


Printing the Curve


Sharing Curves


Caring for the Digital Negative


Intro to Cyanotypes and Safety


Paper and Brush Types


Coating Process and Cyanotype Chemistry


Making the Cyanotype Print


Washing the Cyanotype Print


Creating Cyanotypes Photograms


Toning Cyanotypes and Cleaning Up the Darkroom


Introduction to Van Dyke Printing


Setting Up the Van Dyke Workstation


Van Dyke Paper and Coating


Van Dyke Exposure and Developing


Van Dyke Troubleshooting and Resources


Van Dyke: Split Toning


Van Dyke: Wash Cycle and Drying


Van Dyke: Clean Up Process


Introduction to Platinum / Palladium Printing


Platinum/Palladium Coating Chemistry and Safety


Platinum/Palladium Paper and Coating Options


Platinum/Palladium Exposure and Development


Platinum/Palladium: Equipment and Supplies


Ink Jet Negative Coating and Exposure


Platinum/Palladium Chemistry Options


Ink Jet Negative Development


Platinum/Palladium Waxing Images


Platinum/Palladium Troubleshooting and Resources


Sharing Your Work Digitally




Matting and Framing Options


Editions and Signing Options


Alternative Processes: Further Exploration


Lesson Info

Matting and Framing Options

Okay so the next one is matting and framing. So I mat and frame a big chunk of my work. I did bring a couple of pieces I'm going to show you that were matted by a framing company here in town that's owned by Dan Carillo who is a fellow photograph instructor for Jean and I and he specializes in alternative processing as well and runs a framing shop and I brought some of my work that his company has framed so you can see that framing process. I am a huge believer and anybody who's ever taken a class with me knows that the thing that I believe makes you a great photographer faster than anything is printing. So when you actually make the print, you get the feedback loop that closes to tell you what you have successfully done and not done in the creation of the image. Then people when they get done printing they're like "wow that was like I got a Jones off of that, I hit the juice, I'm ready for the next thing" and the next thing is matting and framing. A good photograph matted and framed b...

ecomes a really good photograph. An amazing photograph becomes iconic like it is crazy when you start to mat things how much better they look. Bad photographs all of a sudden you can give to your parents for Christmas and not feel bad that they hung it on the wall for their friends to see and you got rid of a semi bad photograph and all it cost you was the frame. Matting and framing does a lot for the photograph but it's also really expensive if you go somewhere and actually have matting and framing done. A photo this size could easily run North of 100 dollars to get framed. If you put the right kind of glass on it, if you put the right kind of frame on it, then it might even be significantly more expensive than that. It's also not super easy to cut your own mats. That requires some certain specialized equipment but I want to go through some of the matting and framing options because I really think it does a lot to finish the print and there is something about you've taken all this time, all this energy to make this beautiful print and then to get it on the wall so that when you walk into the house or you walk into your friend's house or it's down at the local coffee shop or it's in a gallery, wherever it is to get to look at that thing you created is such a cool experience and such a rewarding experience especially if it's a photograph that you love and that you're really proud of. This is one of my, this is an eight by ten image taken in the Palouse out in Washington. I was working on a body of work about the nature being immersed in the environment because I thought a lot of landscape photography was observational so I'm actually about waist deep, I'm sitting down but the camera is just above the wheat and I imagined it as waves is what it kind of looks like to me so that was kind of my feeling for the photograph and it's always been one of the photographs I've liked so I have multiple copies of this and I recently gave away a copy. So I've got this copy now that I want to go ahead and put in a mat and I want to get it set up so I can put it back and frame it so I can actually have it in the house. You've got a couple of options for framing. One of the options is, this is an eight by ten image so this is a precut eight by ten frame, or mat board. So this front part is called the window mat because it's got the window for us to look through. This is the backing board so this is what the photograph, the thing that we're going to mat, the photograph is going to sit on and then the window mat goes over the front of it and then that goes into the frame and there might be some additional backing material here but this is the basic setup to get the image into the frame. We also have a setup like this. You can see here that this has a double mat. So there's two window mats to here. There's the inner window mat which is still sized for eight by ten and then there's this outer mat and the outer mat just creates a little bit more depth and illusion into the image so it kind of feels like you're pulling into it. It's going to create a little bit of a shadow line on the outside so it just creates some additional depth into the photograph. Which option is going to be the right option? That's kind of whatever your sensibility is, whatever you think you should do for the mat. Now the question of how big the opening should be, if I do eight by ten I'm basically going to eliminate the border and that might be fine. I may decide that for this print and the way I'm going to mount it I actually don't want the border there so that's going to go away and that's great. If I wanted to have that border show up I would just need a bigger window. So I'm going to show you how to do that measurement and figure that out but in this case I'm going to do the mounting of this initial one with this double mat because I think that would actually look pretty nice. You can go buy these already precut mats. So if you're printing at a standard size eight by ten, they're starting to finally get some of the digital sizes precut for mats. You can actually go in and find the digital aspect ratio on precut mats. You can go in, buy the precut mat. They're also one of the things that is sold in bulk that you can usually get a discount once you get over five or and the thing you're going to look for when you're looking for mats is the same thing you were looking for when you were looking for the box, you're looking for the archivability of the mat. So what you want is a truly archival, museum quality is the other word you will hear, a museum quality mat, 100 percent archival mat because you don't want the mat to then cause the photo to degrade when it starts to leach off the chemistry and the way it's been treated. So we want the purely, 100 percent buffered, no chemical contamination, museum quality mats. Once you get the mat, it comes with a backing board. This is museum quality foam core so it's really light so instead of using mat board this is just museum quality archival foam core. This has come down in price considerably in the last several years. This used to be pretty expensive but it's a great way to mount now the photographs and you can see the front and the back are the same size. So what I have to do now is because I'm not going to pay somebody to mount this because once you see how easy this is, this is one of the ones where you're like, "oh a pre bought sized frame and a precut mat, I can do this, this part is easy." You're not going to cut a thumb off, nothing bad, unless you hate tape, you can do this process. What I've got to do is I've got to figure out and I've got to get the image centered somehow. Usually when I'm working with vinyl prints I'm going to put on white cotton gloves because I don't want my thumb prints to smudge over here. I'm on live TV and I've never put these on that didn't involve some level of profanity because I lose the dexterity in my fingers so in the interest of not having to have profanity on live TV you're going to imagine my white gloves of purity are on to keep the print clean from my fingertips. Then I'm going to grab my little cheap bean bags because these are going to hold the print in place once I get it in place. I've got my image in here now. Then I'm going to set the mat board so that it lines up on the edge and then I'm going to flip it over so that it matches. Then I'm going to press down on the mat board and I'm going to see if my image is properly framed. If it's over here like this I've got my little white gloves on, I'm just going to move the image until it's centered in the mat window. So now I've got it all nice and centered. To get everything to not move again I'm going to have to lift this thing up and do some work now. That's where these come into play. So now my print is in the right place so when the window mat goes back on I know everything is going to be in the right place as long as I get this taped down without it moving. That's the hardest part of the whole process. We get that piece done and then the next thing we need, and this is kind of my matting kit and I have different levels of matting kits. I actually cut my owns mats but we're not going to go through that process because it also involves a series of profanity and trips to the store to cut more mat. In this kit is basically everything I have I need to normally mat with of which the most important to get is archival tape or artist tape. It's tape that also doesn't have any off gassing, it's not going to cause any contamination of the print because we're going to be taping the print down and if we use something like a scotch tape or a masking tape, it will start to leach chemicals into the paper and if you come back a couple of years from now you will actually see where the paper is starting to change color where the tape was so we want to have archival tapes. There's a bunch of types of archival tape and you would say to yourself "well why would you have so many types of archival tape" because I'm much like a camera bag, I'm in the ultimate search for the ultimate tape. One day I'm going to get the perfect bag and I'm going to get the perfect tape and I'm going to order like a thousand miles of it. So the different tapes are all slightly different. This tape here is a wonderful wonderful tape but it requires the tape to get wet for it to adhere. It's a gum tape so it requires to go under a little bit of moisture that activates the sticky tacky part. It can then be stuck down and as the gum dries it gets really really tight, really really strong bond, but it involves water. It involves getting gummy and then it sticks to my fingers and so I love it, the quality of it is great, but I thought I could do better. This is just plain artist tape. This works just like masking tape. This is my current easy use super fast. It just peels, it's a pretty strong tape. It's acid free so I'm not going to worry about it causing any buffering. This is a second role of artist tape because I lost this first roll on the other side of the desk so I had to go buy a second role. This is a linen tape. So linen tape works sort of like gum tape. Got a double backing and I'm going to use this tape. The hardest part about this tape is actually getting it to separate from it's backing. It's got a really thin almost tissue paper front to it and then the backing is going to look like just white sticky paper. I'm going to use this for part of the process so this is a linen tape is what this is called. This tape and this tape, and then this is a similar tape that's got to peel apart and works just like the artist tape. Requires a little bit more effort. I'm going to use the artist tape and I'm going to use the linen tape. How I'm going to use the artist tape that I'm going to use that to attach the photograph down so I'm going to show you how I use the tape to actually physically attach the photograph. If we can hit the overhead cam we can get a look at this action, and I'm going to do what's called a T mount on the image. So it's going to require four pieces of tape. The first piece of tape is going to get pulled and it gets stuck under the photograph. I'm just going to stick it down as far as the tape is long and you need a few inches into the photograph and then I'm going to leave this tail sticking up right there. It's called a T-hinge because I'm now going to take another piece of tape and I'm going to complete the T. I'm going to take another piece of tape, go a few inches over, and now this I stay off of the print and I run barely parallel to the print, I stick that down like that, and then I push, when I usually have a glove on, then I basically just make sure the tape is stuck underneath the print. So it's called the T because one piece came down this way and the other pieces came down here. Now right here where it's overlapped and it's gum to gum that's an incredibly strong hold because you're having the two sides of the gummy parts of the tape are grabbing and that's the hold. The extension along here is making sure that it's not going to fall out. The weight of this, the reason that this T-hinge works so well is when the photograph is picked up straight the weight is, the gravity is pulling it straight down so it's pulling down on the T-hinge so it would have to rip the entire length of that T for it to start to fall off which is why I don't want to run a piece of tape across the top because then it could start to swing as it moves across the gravity. Grab another piece of tape. It's really sticky, good stuff. Sticky tape is the best. So we grab another bottom part of the T and I'm just going to come in a few inches so I'm not getting out at the very edge. The strength of the paper is in here, not at the edges, so I'm going to bring that paper in to get into the strength of the paper. I've got the one edge down there and then I'm going to grab my other T. This one's a little bit long. I'm sure there are framers out there that have very specific lengths but for me as long as I'm covering the length and not attached I don't worry about it too much. In this case I came up a little bit onto the paper so I just lift the print a little bit, I come back and I'm going to mash down on that spot. Now, moment of truth. (frame tapping on desk) I always tap like that because if it comes loose I know I'm ready to frame again. Now that's there like that and then we just double check to just make sure nothing has moved so that looks great. I don't have any weird edges. Things look good. Now I'm going to pop open the mat and this is where I use the linen tape. I could use the artist tape but the linen tape is a little bit wider and I just find it's just got a little more tensile strength for doing this next job. What it's going to do is hold the over mat to the back mat. I'm going to cut a length about the length of that. Just leave it a little bit short. I'm going to pull apart the linen tape and then half goes on the front mat, the window mat, and half goes on the back. I just run my fingers down that so that hold is nice and steady, nice and tight. Then I'm going to flip that over and then I make sure the top edge aligns so I can push that down like that. Then I'm going to put some weight onto the top here. Pick up a weird piece of tape from the earlier incident and now I'm matted. In this case if I missed the edge here just a tiny bit so that tape's got enough flexibility into it and it hasn't set yet so I can come in and move the board just a little bit, or I can undo the tape and pull it back and realign the board. If for some reason the mat board rips a little bit back here I'm not worried because it's going to be hidden. So even if this tears a little bit I'm not going to worry too much about that but that linen tape you see comes up really nice and then I can realign the board, put the linen tape back down. You get about one maybe two pulls of that linen tape if you need it before I would replace it and put it in the right spot and now I'm lining up left to right and now that would be ready to go on the frame. If you're going to frame your images and put them behind glass, you're going to want either a window mat because you don't want the photo to be resting right against the glass. It will actually start to adhere and stick to the glass and there's no room for it to breathe and it will cause the photo to break down sooner. Or you could use something like this. This is called a spacer. What you do is the photo is going to be mounted on the back mat and then the spacer will go into the frame and the glass would sit on top of the spacer and that would leave just that little bit of a gap there is enough for the air to be able to circulate and not have a problem. I call it a frame spacer and when you buy these, they come in these really long edges and you can score them with an X-acto knife so you can measure the length and then you just score it with an X-acto knife and then it will just snap on the length so it's actually pretty durable until it gets a score on it so there's some flex in there. If you know how long you need, if you're doing an 18 by frame you know you need 40 plus 36 so you need 76 inches and you can just get them in various lengths. The other part is if you have a piece this long and a piece this long, it's just an adhesive on the back that peels off and so you can use shorter pieces together on a long side because nobody is going to see it so it doesn't matter if two pieces make the side for a long side. So that's one way to mat and mount the frame but as you can see we have hidden the edges of our photograph that way. Another way is what's called a float mount and I'm going to show you what a float mount looks like and then we will make one. This is what a float mount looks like. I have two different images so you can see kind of the look. So in this case what I wanted to showcase was a couple of things so I picked a paper that had the deckled edge. I also wanted to showcase the actual frame around the image. Did I crack the glass? No that's just dirt. Got the frame here, and you can see the full size of the paper and then there's a little bit of edge around that. For me in the presentation choice here, the paper was a part of the process. The edges were a part of the process, and the photograph was part of the process. I then wanted to make the decision of making sure I could show all of that. I didn't want to build a big huge weird mat around the edge because I thought that would look kind of strange so I decided to go with this. This is a float mount. This has the little spacing bar that's in there so the little spacing bar you can't even see and that's what has kept the glass off of the print so if you get up close there is actually a little bit of bowing that you can see in some of the prints because they've got enough movement in there so that the print can expand and contract with the humidity so as temperature changes, these papers are going to absorb moisture and eliminate moisture and that little space lets it in there. Sometimes you will look and the print will have a little bit of movement in there but it's not going to curl, it's not going to warp, it's not going to do anything strange like that. This kind of mounting is basically a hidden T-hinge is basically how we're going to do that so I'm going to show you how to do a mounting element like that because if you bought the frame you could then come in and build the mounting. What happens on the back of the frame and this is one of the reasons why I love the work they do there is, the frame goes in the back and then it's got just the kind of standard little tabs it would go in and then there's just a piece of tape over there that keeps these tabs from coming loose and keeps your fingers from hitting the tab and then they put a gallery frame symbol there and then when I sell the print then I put a sticker on here that has my information and a bunch of information about the print. We are going to talk about signing prints and editioning here in a second. That actually happens on the print but I don't want somebody to have to rip the framing apart to get to it so I also put the same information I put on the print on the outside of the frame if the image was sold. The other piece that will make a big difference is the frame you choose. So because the platinum had kind of the internal black frame, I chose a black frame to help accentuate that so that was the reason I selected that frame choice. If I was doing cianotype I might look at deep blue or a black still for that. Van Dyke kind of has that reddish brown too so maybe a natural wood frame would actually be a nice element to work with with that. That would be an opportunity for that as well. We are going to take this sample print and I'm going to show you on this one and because of that big dot I just couldn't make the cut so we're going to use this one for our matting practice and mats come in a variety. Here's a nice gray mat, here's a cream mat so I could look and see like oh. So take your photograph in to the mat store because in a mat store, and by the way those are both considered white. This is like a burnt white and this would be like snowflake white and there's also going to be pure white and then mostly pure white and then sort of white and then cream white and you're going to be like, so just take one of your prints in and figure out what kind of mat board you think it's going to work on. From a size standpoint, once you've picked your mat board and picked your mat board color. So see even a dark mat might actually work. Kind of help accentuate the frame. If that's what you chose. We're going to stick with a nice white mat for our option. For this I'm just going to kind of center this on the mat board. If for some reason I wanted a different size I could trim the mat board down. When you're cutting a mat window you're going to use a cutter with a beveled edge but if you're cutting this you could use a straight edge cutting. The key to cutting a mat is a really sharp edge. They come with little razor cutters so you're just going to use a new blade for about every second or third mat to keep the edges nice and sharp. If not they will tear and fray. To do one of these requires a little bit more planning because what we have to do is we have that T-hinge that was back there but we have to hide it. We've got to kind of reverse it because now, before we had the T set on the board here and the print hung down but now what we need to do is we need the T to hang below the line so we don't actually see the tape because it's going to be sitting out on the mat board. Same kind of thing though I want to be kind of towards the top and towards kind of the end edge. I don't want to get too far out on my sides out here so if I get too far out here I'm going to be out on the tensile strength of the paper so I'm going to come in a little bit and what I want to do now is I need the tape to stick up and the tape to go down on the paper so this gets a little messy because you're going to have a lot of exposed surface area for the tape. What you're going to do is you're going to take a couple pieces of tape and I usually do, I get my tape pre torn for this process because there's enough of it sitting down there with the tacky side up that I don't want something to quickly adhere to it so I want to be as prepped as possible so that's why I tear off some relative lengths of tape. I'm not super anal about the lengths. Usually it's three to four inches. The bigger the print the longer the tape and the more of these you might need. If I was hanging a 16 by 20 I would probably have three or four of these across but for a smaller print like this 11 by 14 I only need two to hold the float. So what I'm going to do is I can't just take this piece and stick it completely down because I don't have any way of attaching the tape up from the front so I'm basically going to stick the bottom part and I've got to leave the top tail up. I'm going to take this one and shorten this one a little bit and I'm going to put this down here and again I'm going to leave a little bit of the top tail up. If I'm really going to get anal retentive about it I could draw a little light pencil line and make sure they are the exact right height. That's not really going to matter once I flip it over and mount it as long as the top part is registered as square. The next thing I'm going to do is, now it's got to come sticky side up so this is the only kind of really tricky part. It's sticky side up under there and this is one of the reasons why I like these tapes that don't adhere right away because it gives me a little bit of time to come underneath and I like to get to where I stick just above the tape. So now I've got my bonding here and just a little bit above so I make sure this piece doesn't come off and move for some reason. I'm going to come over here, same thing. I'm going to grab a little bit of tape there. This is going to come under. Stick up a little bit. Get just over the top. Stick that down. Okay now comes sort of the tricky part. Out here I've got to get that in the right spot so I usually have premeasured so this is a 16 inch mat and I'm going to want this at three and a half inches at the bottom and that's going to give me my artificial float towards the bottom so three and a half inches and that corner is at three and a half inches. Then I can come over and measure this other side and I get that to my three and a half inch mark and I get that down there and now that the bottom is squared, if my mat board is square I can put that down and now I've got to come in and put some weight up here and now I'm getting that tape to stick to the mat board and to the print. If it works you pull this up and you're not going to be able to pull it up very far because you've made the attachment. (tapping board on desk) Whew. It doesn't always stick and usually if it doesn't stick it's the humidity or the tape is getting old but at that point now I have a nice float mount so that's ready to set up, floats out of there, and because it's joined at the two spots it's got now the ability for the print to breathe and it can expand and contract as necessary. The tape will allow it to make its movement without causing any artificial constraints so that's kind of the way to think about the mounting. I think those are kind of the two preferred ways for mounting the all processing pieces. The only kind of other big alt process where we get into some more interesting mounting options is when we get into glass plate or in ten type, degara type work because that's on a metal plate or a glass plate and that requires a little bit different stuff but for most all of our alt processing prints that come on paper I would say one of these two methods would be better. This one would then just drop into a 16 by 20 frame, spacer bar around it, and I'm good to go. So you can pick up the frames a lot cheaper and the matting is literally just a matter of some tape for that so I'll save you the headache from the matting and framing part. The one other thing I did is if you want to cut your own mats. In the bonus material is a spreadsheet that is a kind of cool spreadsheet and this is big enough that I don't have to put it on the computer because we can actually see this. I have built a spreadsheet. It has three tabs in it. One tab has fractions to decimal conversion because some people are fraction decimal and it's in inches not in millimeters so I'm sorry for anybody who is overseas. I know we should all be on metric, I would prefer to be on metric, but I built it with what my rulers all say. There's that tab for decimals, then there's a landscape mode and a portrait mode for figuring out. So the one we are looking at here is the portrait mode one because we are longer than we are wide. The boxes that you're concerned with are going to be in yellow so if you're going to cut your own mat, the biggest problem is how big should that window be. If your image is actually eight inches by 10 inches your window is not eight inches by 10 inches or you would see the edge of the negative and a little bit of that black line. You're actually going to come in probably about an eighth of an inch on each side so you're going to lose a total of a quarter of an inch of the image. You're going to come in here an eighth of an inch so that's going to give you the proper sizing on that so that opening there is not technically eight inches by 10 inches even though it's scaled for an eight by 10 inch print. Then figuring out how far should you be up from the top and the bottom, the math became a little complex so this is what the spreadsheet does. You measure the outside dimensions of your mat so in this case the length is 20 inches and the width was 10 inches. We talked about the optical illusion of weighting the mat from the top to the bottom so in this case how much of a bottom weighting do you want? I want a half an inch, I want an inch. The bigger the image the more that needs to be weighted because if you're matting up a 16 by 20 you probably want an inch and a half to two inch. If you're matting a 30 by 40 you would want probably a four inch weighting. If you're doing an eight by 10 probably a half inch weighting would be enough. Then down here you measure the length and width of your print and this is the actual length and width of the print. So an eight by 10 image you would put eight by 10. If it's eight by 12 you put in eight by 12. Then how much of an overlap do you want? Do you want that to come in a little farther or a little less? Because on a print like this I could decide that I want to leave a little bit of a black line around the edge so I might measure out a little bit for the measurement or I want to come in just a quarter of an inch over the side because let's say there was like a mistake over here you wanted to hide so I'm just going to come in and just chop the image a little smaller in the matting process. You can do that as an option. Then that's going to tell you how big your final print is. Then this part in the blue down here is the part that's relevant for the cutting part. It tells you that on your 20 by 10 mat, the print opening size is going to be that so you make your top border, you need to come down three and three sixteenth inches. That's where you make your cut. On your bottom board you're going to come up five and five sixteenths and make your cut. Then your left and right sides to be even one and one sixteenths inch. So if you're a person that cuts mat or has done mat cutting, the hardest part is to figure out the opening and where to draw the lines to cut so I just made this spreadsheet a number of years ago for two of my class I make them mat all of their photographs because I guess I'm mean. But I make them mat all their photographs to get to that final state and I created this spreadsheet to help them out so I went ahead and threw that in the bonus material but if you're going to be cutting your own mats because you already have the tools and resources for that. Hopefully that's a way to help you get going on the image.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Alternative Processing Handout.pdf
Grayscale Percentage to RGB Values.pdf
MSDS Saftey
Bostick Discount Code.pdf
Matt Cutting Cheat Sheet.xlsx
Step Wedge Creation Spreadsheet.xlsx
Alternative Process

Ratings and Reviews


For a long time, I have read, studied and tried alternative processing, mainly Platinum/Palladium printing. I want to create longest lasting prints and may be share the info at Creative Live. But this presentation saved me many a hours. A few minutes into the lecture, I purchased the class and as the class progressed, I was extremely glad. Thank you Creative Live, thank you Daniel Gregory.


Excellent class on Alt Process and fantastic bonus materials included with purchase!!! I have extensive digital printing and darkroom experience but haven't done much alt-process to date. This is perfect timing for me as I have several personal projects that I would like to re-visit using some of these techniques. Thank you Daniel!!!

James H Johnson

I have been making platinum/palladium prints for about 1 year. This is the 3rd workshop that I have attended. The first two were one on one. Daniel has done a fantastic job of covering the material and explained the process it detail and easy to understand. This course is fantastic and highly recommend it.

Student Work