Matting and framing art yourself is a great way to save on costs and it’s simple if you know how to choose the right materials. Here are a few expert tips to make this process super easy.
Choosing the Mat Board
Artworks on paper (this includes paintings, drawings, pastels, prints, mixed media, photographs, etc.) are best displayed by matting them within a frame. The colors and textures of mat board are endless, but to get a professional look I suggest using a neutral color (soft white or cream is universally flattering) and a smooth surface that compliments the work. Choosing a colored mat that “matches” the work will actually distract, and doesn’t convey a sense of professionalism. A neutral ground helps the art to stand out, and ultimately, you want to notice the art – not the mat and frame. I love pairing a white mat with a black frame for a simple and high-quality look. This combo works with almost any work of art.
Sizing and Matting
You can cut mats yourself or you can have someone cut them for you (at a framer or even craft stores like Michaels). The easiest option is to purchase a pre-cut mat, which comes in a range of standard sizes. Whether cutting it yourself or buying a pre-cut mat, you will want the mat to slightly cover the edges of the work (about 1/4 inch on each side). Adhere the work on the back with tape (preferably archival tape, but masking tape works too). Use just enough tape to hold the work in place in case it ever needs to be removed from the mat. Keep in mind if you are cutting your own mat to leave plenty of breathing room around the art, at least 2 inches on each side. The larger the art, the wider the mat should be. Never skimp on the mat width. A wide mat has a way of setting off even a small artwork and making it look impressive.
Frame Your Matted Work
The next step is to assemble your frame with your matted work. For ease, I recommend buying a readymade frame with hanging hardware. These come with a removable backing that allows you to insert and secure your art. Like with the mat, I suggest choosing neutral colors (black metal or wood that has been painted black or stained). Again, you want the frame to support and show off the work, not distract. You will also want to choose a style of frame that matches the work. A large, floral work might stand a more ornate frame, while a small, minimal work might be best in a thin, simple frame. When in doubt, a plain black frame always looks great. Once your work is in its frame, you can add the hanging hardware that came with it or you may need to add screw eyes and hanging wire, which can be found at any craft or home improvement store. For tips on how to hang your art, read this blog post.