How to Frame and Mat Custom-Size Artwork.

Until you have artwork on the walls, a house will never feel like a home.

At least in my book.

You would think my house would feel like home due to a few facts – 1. I work out of our house (there I am home all the time), 2. we are always working on renovation projects (investment much?) and 3. that, you know, I live here. But for a long time it didn’t’ feel like our house. I finally realized that, apart from the dining room and living room mantle, we had nothing hanging on any of our walls yet. And why would we? We are still in the process of sanding ceilings, spackling walls and painting. That had to change.

On our trip to Cape Cod to celebrate our anniversary last summer, we purchased some prints in a local art gallery in Chatham. It was appropriate, after all, since the gift for the first year is supposed to be “paper” oriented.

We bought a few pieces by Robert Edward Kennedy. We purchased one watercolor print and three graphic prints of towns on the Cape. We like our walls adorned with pieces that mean something – the watercolor was of somewhere we had been together in Nantucket, and the three graphical prints were all places we had been together in Cape Cod – Hyannis, Falmouth and Chatham.


But, there were a few problems.

1. We couldn’t find three prints we wanted with matching matting colors.

2. Even if there were three prints with matching mats, the size was not a standard frame size.

3. We are too cheap to get our artwork framed and matted custom.

No problem! I declared. I will just find frames at a store that we can slip the artwork into.

But there was a problem with that too.

The prints were not standard size prints – not sized to fit into any standard frame (like 8×10 or 5×7).

Due to all of these problems, the prints got put in the sunroom and were forgotten about. Until recently.

I bought three 8×10 frames (at $10 a piece) from Target and I decided I would cut my own mat.

As an art student I learn how to cut mats in high school. The only problem was, I didn’t own proper mat cutting equipment and didn’t want to buy it – wouldn’t that defeat the whole purpose of saving money?

So I decided to give it the old college-try, and just use a razor blade.

I measured out what I wanted the new opening to be (measure several times and cut once) and proceeded to (very lightly) cut out the excess. Always measure, draw and cut from the BACKSIDE.

This was a 5×7″ opening I cut to be about a 6.75×8″ opening.

Because I wasn’t using a traditional cutter, I was unable to get the traditional beveled edge that mat openings usually have. But I can live with that. : )

Miraculously my whole scheme worked.

Tips for cutting a new mat:

1. Use a brand new razor blade. The sharper the better.

2. It’s better to use many long and light cuts and a few deeper cuts.

3. Use a metal ruler or straight edge and cut against it. Hold the ruler down on to your pencil line very tightly. Tight enough that your fingers hurt. If the ruler moves, you will not have a straight line.

4. Measure, measure and measure again before you cut.

It’s not perfect, but I don’t think anyone will notice.

We decided to put them in our kitchen. And I love them.

And it’s definitely starting to feel more like home.

What kind of artwork do you have hanging in your kitchen?

Have you ever custom framed anything?


8 thoughts on “How to Frame and Mat Custom-Size Artwork.

  1. The mats look really professional, and there are times I feel like being particular about my art, but there are plenty of times that I don’t, by the way my walls are filled with much of my art. My kitchen is filled with photographs I have taken and I just put tape on the back and tape them to the wall. They look like a seasonal collage, I love it. I change them each season or holiday. Have fun!

  2. looks great ­čÖé
    One of my favourite things that hung in my parents’ kitchen when I was growing up was a plate. I know, very grandmotherly seeming, but it was this dusk/starlit scene with a cow lying in tall grass and looking out over rolling hills of grass and farmland. Once I have my own place, I’m going to unbury it from wherever my parents stashed it.

  3. I love that!

    I have an antique cookie cutter in my kitchen that hung in my parents house when I was growing up. We can’t seem to get away from things like that, can we?

Comments are closed.