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Make Your Own Decorative Mats for Art

Mats can go from plain borders to decorative creations with these easy do-it-yourself ideas

Decorative mats are easy to make at home. Just start with a pre-cut mat that is the right size for your art and add a few creative touches. Mats can be purchased at hobby stores; you can also find old mats and frames at garage sales.

If the mat is damaged or torn, it can be covered in material. You can use linen or burlap or even heavy paper.

You can use fabric cording, colored zigzag tape, or any fabric decoration to dress up a mat. A dab of glue and you have another dimensional effect. Strips of colored paper or spare pieces of discarded matboard in complementary colors can add a more elegant touch.

Foam and paper cutouts can also be used as embellishments for a mat. For a child's frame, cut out whimsical animal shapes, add eyes or special features such as spots and glue to the mat. Create a 3-D effect by positioning a small part of the cutout off the inner edge of the mat.

Fabric-covered mats will give pictures and art a subtle, but creative, flair as well. This approach is really easy and will add a professional touch to your framed piece.

In addition to burlap and linen, you can choose any type of material that is complementary to the style of the art. Grasscloth, cotton fabrics, and even the newer wallpapers can make attractive mats.

You'll need a flat space to work on - larger than your mat size. Use a household glue to cover the top side of the mat; not too thick or the paper will buckle. Lay the material on top of the mat - make sure the grain of the material is aligned with the edges of the mat. Press down from the middle portion of the mat toward the outer and inner edges to remove air bubbles and wrinkles. Let the glue set.

Now, turn the mat and material over so that you are looking at the back side. Use a sharp craft knife to trim away the material at the outside edges of the mat. This will be hidden by the frame so you do not have to fold it over.

The inner material portion, however, will have to be wrapped to the inside. Mark off the material that to be removed - 1 1/2 inches from the mat's inner edge. Cut that out and remove. In each corner, make a diagonal cut beginning 1/8 inch from the corner. Place glue on the back side of the mat in the 1 ½ area that will be covered by material. Carefully fold over the edges, making sure the corners look straight from the front. When the glue dries, you're ready to add art and the frame.

Depending on the art to be framed, you can use just about any material or embellishment to add some fun, trendiness, or elegance to your mats. It's easy!

It should be noted that any work of value requires framing by a professional. They will use the proper acid-free materials to maintain the integrity of the art. Use these techniques only on works of art that have no monetary or collector value.




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