How to Professionally Mat and Frame Pictures

Learning to cut your own mats for picture frames can be easier than it looks. Learn these tips from Carol Duvall.
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Carol Duvall, host of HGTV's The Carol Duvall Show, shares her discoveries about matting and framing artwork:

Beginning with a turquoise mat, add 1/2" foam board on top and end with the addition of a white mat on top of the foam board.

Here the image is cut apart, each section mounted on 1/4" foam board, and individual mats cut around each section.

So many crafters, painters and needleworkers have their work matted and framed and spend many dollars to do it.

I sat down by myself with a mat cutter and a book, The Complete Guide to Basic Mat Cutting, and I couldn't believe how easy it was to learn and to do... and what a terrific difference the right mat could make in the appearance of even a single photograph or greeting card. I stopped cutting only when I ran out of mats to cut.

The main purpose behind all of this, however, is not to show you how I could cut a mat but to show you how you could do it yourself, without having a degree in math or engineering, and how you could save money in the process. The costs can really escalate when you want to have more than one opening cut in a mat, such as when you want to include multiple photos. All arguments aside, the best reason to cut your own is because it's fun to do.

Another reason to do your own mat cutting is that, for the first time, a truly professional type of cutter is available for under $100. The LoganB. cutter I used is listed at $79. (Note: The cost of this product has increased to $109.95 since this segment first aired.)

It can be a little tricky to know what color and what size mat to use, as well as what size opening to cut.

Fortunately, the book I mentioned has plenty of information and guidelines to help you make such decisions. And what an interesting picture can be produced by simply matting and framing something as basic as a greeting card or rubber-stamped image. Yup, forget the saving money part. This is a whole new craft to enjoy.

Additional Notes

When I checked with various craft and art-supply stores around the country, I discovered a wide range of prices on mat board. The price of a 32" by 40" piece ranged from $4.50 to $12, sometimes even at the same store! It depends on finish as well as color and whether it is acid-free. The folks at De Young's Art Store in Traverse City, Mich., said they could order a piece of mat board as large as 40" by 60" for $15, but they were the only store that did.

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