My Profile

First Name
Matt
Last Name
Isble
Biographical Info
I have more than seventeen years of professional development in the area of exhibit design and installation, working for a variety of institutions and private clientele from Carmel California to Portland Oregon. I received my masters degree in Museum Studies with an emphasis in education and interpretation from John F. Kennedy University. In my current capacity at the Crocker Art Museum I direct the exhibition design and work with both the curatorial and education departments to create engaging museum experiences for visitors. Specialties include: Exhibition design, project management, chief preparator, lighting design, volunteer coordination, and facilities management.
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2 years ago no Comment

Hi Gang, We can across this nice article (May 9, 2016) about making a support mount for a bowl that we thought you’d be interested in reading. Mount Making Focus is a nice resource. The lessons could be widely applied to various bowl materials and eras. What do you think? Do you have a slightly different method you’d care to share, please include your own (with pictures) down below or write an original article by clicking on a “Trade Yours” link. Pre-Columbian Bowl Mount It’s been many years since I made this mount, but it remains one of the most spatially interesting and sculptural pieces I’ve ever built. The bowl was a beautiful piece of Pre-Columbian ceramic, (probably Moche) although I do not know the exact region or age. As I recall, it was in reasonable condition for its age but had enough cracking and weakness in the wide rim that it needed a great deal of support to be displayed in the desired vertical orientation. Besides trying to make the display visually exciting, I was also working to help it survive future seismic events in its Pacific Northwest home. Using strips of mat board as a templating material, I laid out the fair curves of the proposed mount along the strongest parts of the object. Finding the best locations for support defines the 3D relationships of the various pieces. As the design took shape, I taped the pieces together to give a feel of the final mount. At some point, I felt I had enough information to start bending annealed brass stock and fitting it directly to the curves of the object. This is where the value of the mat board templating became apparent. Through using it, I was able to determine a path for each piece of metal that was a simple curve. There is no twisting in any of the main structural elements. If twists are introduced into the geometry of the mount, the complexity of the spatial relationships vastly increases, and the ability to maintain alignment with the object becomes much more difficult. Once the curves were established, the connecting pieces were fitted and joining begun. At each step of the way, the padded framework was returned to the object to confirm fit, and to mark the lengths and angles of the next additions. Soon the hanging structure was fabricated and small triangulating strut added to counteract any sagging by the support web. When completed, the bowl slipped into the padded mount with a feeling of great security and support. To ensure that position, a fine cable was looped over the bowl at the junction of the flare and the base, and secured with a #4-40 screw in a tapped hole. With this final security measure, the mounted bowl was both beautiful, and prepared to withstand a seismic event. On February 28th 2001, that test was given by the 6.8 magnitude Nisqually earthquake. This bowl, and all other pieces that had been mounted, came through with no damage. Whew…

2 years ago no Comment

Hide a cord has it’s place in life and is an essential tool in the technicians toolbox, but it can have add a bit of presence on the wall. You can paint it to match of course, but it’s still there. We use the 1/4″ channel at the bottom of the wall to our advantage and run the cord into this crack, it’s virtually invisible to the untrained eye. In the photos and video you will see the following: Straighten the cable so it’s fully flat, NO twists in the cord. Pro tip: Stuff a ball of the the tape where you want to tack the cord into the channel temporarily. I didn’t do this in the video, but if you have an unruly cord this will help keep things in place. Lay the 1″ gaff tape evenly on the leading edge, the most visible spot, really take the time to get this straight and not be wavy, match the edge on the horizontal surface. You can of course pull back the tape if you’re not getting a good line which I think you’ll see me do in the video. If you don’t have 1″ gaffers tape (or cloth tape as its sometimes called) the just rip down the more standard 2″ tape. It tears very well and keeps a fairly starlight line, but you’ll still want to use the factory cut edge for the first line you lay down. Next, work it into the channel with your finger tips, it should push back and completely disappear or the magic won’t happen, fold in the extra if it doesn’t want to fully duck into he channel. That’s it. Pro tip: not all tape is created equal. We like the kind that has more body, one that isn’t limp. It’s like it has a coating on it maybe.  The limp stuff doesn’t tear perpendicularly well and flops around while working. You can do it, it’s just not pleasant.  

2 years ago no Comment

Imagine pools of wax swooshing around on the floor, moving this way and that, usually in the dead of night so the buffed wax has time to dry before everyone comes in to work the next day. It makes your museum look its best and is always an “OOooo” and “Wow” moment when you come in to see the beautiful work. I have that feeling as well, except I also have the sense of dread, the knowledge that our larger casework have been further glued down to the floor. We have put a cork foot on all our case work so they can slide when need be, but also have some tooth so they don’t slide unnecessarily. We’ll write another article on feet and ballasts at some point because there are caveats to all of this. This cork and the bare MDF at the bottom of the case wall are sponges for this floor stripper and wax. We’ve had to performs some extreme measures to rip it up and away from the the floor. Not to mention the permanent damage done to the terrazzo where pools set under the case work. I haven’t done an interview with the custodial staff on this, but I think a stripper goes down first and that’s what pools up and eats the floor, but that’s just a guess. If I may digress, do give proper training to the person who babysits the late night wax crew. They are usually an outside company and know nothing of museums and how to behave. We had splattered wax on our walls (thank god there weren’t low sculptures in the area) and a mangled corner on a riser from these guys. The babysitter needs to give a pep talk or stand over them, or, or, or? The Ever Evolving Art of Casework Deign and Fabrication In an ideal world we’d remove all the case work before the wax job is done, but that’s a lot of labor and you might end up with an empty gallery for a few days as you return cases and objects before opening each day. So, here is our next move. We are first painting the bottom edges of the furniture (peds, cases, and risers). This will seal the MDF so it will (hopefully) repel the liquid they lay down. This paint goes up the inside edge as well. I think ideally we’d do this in a semi-gloss, but in the case of this riser we only had flat black on hand and this innovation occurred while giving these a paint job for a refresh of the gallery space. That is to say, we had little time between thinking of this idea and having to be ready with the furniture. For both the semi and flat we put three coat on this bottom edge. Next, we put strips of Ultra High Molecular Weight plastic (UHMW) on all bottom edges. Again, if we had more time, perhaps we would have bought 3/4″ wide UHMW plastic to cover more fully the foot, but 1/2″ will have to do for now. It’s not very thick, perhaps 1/32″, but at least it’s something to raise the case up and hopefully it won’t stick to the wax. Perhaps it would be worth the investment to buy a thicker UHMW plastic, maybe 1/8″ or so. So, cross your fingers for us and let everyone on MuseumTrade know if you’ve encountered this before (success or failure), what you did, and what you would do differently.

4 years ago no Comment

Hello MT Community, Here’s a very basic interactive for your museum: a plastic puzzle using a custom image of the artwork.What we’ve provided for our visitors is an opportunity to sit and relax, helping them make it though our large museum. And here they can also spend quality time with a work of art. We all know how briefly people pass by individual paintings (bonus points for anyone who can add a comment below about any formal or informal study they’ve conducted at their institution). This interactive can engage visitors in looking deeply at all aspects of the painting, noticing things they had not caught upon their first glance. This type of puzzle can be bought online, with a 11×14″ version costing between $30 and $50. And your education department could definitely make use of it after the run of the show. Just be sure that you’ve identified the right type of art for this project, looking especially for complexity and depth. The end result? Visitors that are engaged and recharged. Maybe they’ll even look at that next painting a little bit longer? This may not break new ground but it’s a highly functional project to pull out of the museum professional’s box of tricks. Please feel free to also cover something that you might think of as basic, too. Your ordinary is going to be someone else’s epiphany.  

4 years ago no Comment

We had Ship Art International here the other day to crate our Claire Falkenstein and they whipped out this caddy for a 3M industrial strength low temperature glue gun and its glue sticks.  Quick and dirty design, but effective and makes use of discarded materials most of us have around. Many thanks to Clay and Julie for letting me share this with all of you. By the way, if you haven’t already, you should invest in a glue gun like this. Not only does it have high output, but the low temperature won’t melt your material which could render the glue useless as it melts and recesses into the foam block (or whatever you’re working with). How about all of you, where do you keep you hot glue gun?  

4 years ago no Comment

We’ve had issues with streaking in out paint jobs.  It’s not always obvious, sometimes it depends on the light, sometimes you need to be an installer to see it, but none the less it’s bothersome. I doesn’t matter how wet we leave out edge, we’d get a consistent streak evenly spaced across the wall. If you really fly and stay thick and wet it can be lessened, but thick paint can lead to thick texture and we don’t want that either. FYI, we’re usually using 3/8″ naps to keep a low wall texture, but we’ve tried going to 1/2″ to see if that alleviated the issue. Our paint supplier suggested trying this latex extender solution called XIM Latex X-Tender, but then they changed their product line and now deal M-1 (A Sunnyside Quality Product), they work the same and  a lot of companies make something similar. I thought it might just be one of those extras they try to sell you just to get a little up-sell on the purchase, but I like my guys and trusted their thoughts on my issue. Yep, it worked like a charm. we started out using 4 ounces per gallon with instant results, but I’m thinking of going up to 5 ounces on the next job and analyze the difference. The product suggests two to six ounces per gallon. The only thing I haven’t done is taken a with and without shot to illustrate the difference. Have you? Are there other similar products that we should be trying?

4 years ago no Comment

In our profession, time is often of the essence. If one person can do the same job as two or three others, you go for it (object safety being paramount of course). I was faced with getting a lot of blankets up to a distant gallery and I didn’t want to make three trips. What does one do? You pull our a ratcheted strap and lash them together of course. Boom, done. And yes, that’s a camo strap, it was the cheapest Home Depot had at the time.

4 years ago no Comment

Hello Everyone, Have you ever had to paint just a massive field of peds or cases? Do it all the time you say? Yeah it happens and here’s a picture of it. This is more of a Preparator Culture type of article, but I mention just a few things here. You’ll notice the 2″ blue tape at the top of the baseboard (a routed 1/4″ channel, 4.5″ up). In 2014 we started converting all our peds and cases over to a white semi-gloss baseboard. We think it looks better, number one, and saves a lot of time, number two, and is harder wearing, number three. We just add this blue tape “shelf” and it protects the white from paint drips. If I might make a suggestion on the cardboard that covers the floor. Try using the same paint side each time, leaving the backside smooth and less harsh on your floors. If you have to pull up your cardboard before all the drips have dried you’d of course want to put the wet paint surfaces face to face and unstick them down the road. Otherwise we like to collect them so the paint sides are all facing the same direction, making layout of of cardboard next time quicker and easier. That’s it. Do you have some pictures of your fields of peds and cases or other moments paint project?

4 years ago no Comment

It’s always nice to display the exhibit catalog if it’s available. It helps further contextualize the works and helps promote a product available in the store. Usually we use four pan head screws on the back cover to bolt down our catalogs (or catalogue whichever you prefer) to an angled wall ped. Recently it was simply not possible to display this way for our Al Farrow exhibit. Longer story short, we decided to make the exhibit catalog free-floating, but we didn’t want it walking off.  We could have tried a big sticker saying “Gallery Copy” on the front of an unjacketed copy, but we had very few of these catalogs and didn’t want to take the chance. We decided to bulk up the catalog a bit, making it permanently flat, but wanted to avoid adding too much weight. A 3/4″ piece of MDF would simply be to heavy for most people to enjoy. We went with a 1/4″ piece of MDF that was painted the same as the rest of the cases. We left a 1/4″ border on three sides and a full inch along the top where we put the words “Catalogue Available in Store.” This catalog holder would reside on either a bench or window sill and we didn’t want the paint making either, so we put two 1/4″ x 1″ runners along the bottom and left them unpainted. They were also strategically placed so as to give us more depth on the pan head screws we used to anchor the catalog to the holder. Additionally, the runners raise the main board up so the user can more easily get their fingers underneath. That’s it. So far it has stayed put.  What do you do for your unanchored catalogs?

4 years ago no Comment

I thought I’d take a moment to share the tool we used to develop two interactives in our galleries. The attached document was used by four groups of (three people per group) and the result was shared the entire group plus a few upper management staff. We whittled the ideas down to two (InSight and Arts and Letters) and then installed them in the gallery. Unfortunately I don’t have the prototype form used for the Arts and Letters interactive. Below you will see the CAD drawings for the interactive and I think they tell the story, but feel free to comment with any questions. We have not done any evaluation on this interactive, but we restock the blank forms regularly.

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