How-To: Matting Your Own Art

I recently picked up some prints from a seller on Etsy.  I love the prints, but they were an unusual size.  I couldn't find any frames that fit them nicely, and I wasn't prepared to pay for custom framing.  So, as usual, I went the DIY route for framing and matting.  I'm pretty pleased with the results...

I picked up the supplies for this project for less than $40 total.  That was due in large part to the sale at the craft store.  My frames were marked down from $21.99 to $7.99!  Ummm, yes please!  The poster board ran me about $6.  Other than that, I had all the supplies needed on hand.

To create your own matting, you'll need:

  • frames 
  • poster board
  • art prints
  • pencil
  • X-acto knife
  • Omnigrid ruler
  • self healing mat

First things first, I used these float frames.  They are designed with two panes of glass, instead of one pane of glass and piece of backing.  I chose them by accident, because they were on sale.  But they worked out far better than expected because the matting ended up pressed snugly to the art print between the two panes of glass.  I did matte another set of prints with traditional frames, and the results were not nearly as polished.  The finished product with the float frames looks almost professional...from a distance at least!  When you get up close, you can see there is no depth to the matting, so it doesn't have QUITE the same effect, but damn close!  And I couldn't be happier, especially for just under $40!  

To start off, take the glass out of your frame.  Lay the glass down on top of your poster board.  I lined mine up in one of the corners so I only had to cut two sides.  Less room for user error is always good, imo.  Press down firmly in the center of the glass, and cut around the sides of the glass with your X-acto.  

You should then have a piece of poster board which fits your frame perfectly.  Move the glass and X-acto elsewhere.  Figure out how thick you want your matting borders to be.  If you're not sure, start off THICKER than you think you might want.  That way you will still have room to trim, if necessary. The top and bottom borders don't have to be the same thickness, just as long as it's visually appealing to you!  I made sure my prints were evenly framed by the matting, which ended up looking nicely symmetrical although my matting is thicker on the sides than top/bottom.  

Once you've determined how thick you want the matting, grab your Omnigrid ruler, lay it over the poster board at the desired measurement, and draw a line with your pencil.  Do this with all four sides. Now you have a nice, neat rectangle in the middle which you will be cutting out.  Now realign the Omnigrid with your lines, and use it to trace your pencil markings on each side.  You should end up with something looking like this:

Repeat these steps as many times as necessary for each print you have.

To assemble, lay down one of your glass panes, then lay the matting down on top of the glass, then line your print up on top of the matting (face down), and lay the back pane of glass down on top.  Carefully lift the panes and slide them into the frame.  And viola! You have a matted piece of art!

As I mentioned earlier, I do highly recommend getting the float frames for this project because the end result will be much more polished.  The prints I did with traditional frames were not pressed as tightly to the front pane of glass, and you could see some shadows where gaps formed between the print and the matting.  Nothing major, but I'm a perfectionist and it bothers me.  My boyfriend says he doesn't notice and they look fine.  Whatever.

Any questions?  Feel free to leave them in the comments section!

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