Monday, March 08, 2010

Tutorial - cut your own mat board for picture framing!

Sorry it's taken me so long to finally get around to posting this! Quite a few people expressed interest in a tutorial on my picture framing post, so here it is!

Mat cutting can be a lot of fun. Many of the lovely little prints you get from Etsy etc aren't a standard size, so being able to frame them properly in a shop bought frame is a very handy skill to have!

With the right setup, and familiarity with your tools it can be super easy. I struggled with my first few but once I had a bit of practice it was so easy and so satisfying. I've included some tips here that will help you to avoid the troubles I had!

mat board cutting tutorial
Materials required

You will need:
- A bevel cutter and guide rule. I got this set from Frame Co for $126.50
- Mat board (AKA Mount board) in a colour of your choice. Again I got mine from here.
- Pencil
- Cutting knife
- Flat quilters ruler (optional)
- Sticky tape
- Large sheet of thick cardboard or some spare mat board to use as a "cutting mat" (do NOT try to use a green cutting mat, it's too tough!)

mat board cutting tute
Close up of bevel cutting head - very fun to use

mat board cutting tute
Measuring

Step one: measure your artwork width and height, including the space you want to leave around the artwork. If your artwork has a defined edge you can measure to this point or slightly beyond it to leave a nice white border around your print.

Next, measure how big your mat board needs to be to fit inside your chosen frame. Take a larger sheet of board and trim it down using a plain cutting knife and ruler, making sure it's perfectly square (as in 90 degree corners)!! The quilter's rule can be handy for this.

mat board cutting tute
Doin' maths.

On the back of your cut mat board, do some maths to figure out the position of the hole you're going to cut. Eg: (board width - artwork width)/2 = left & right width. Sometimes it can look better to leave an extra 20% at the bottom so it looks more visually balanced. Up to you!

mat board cutting tute
Mark out your lines

Step two: Use your previous calculations to measure and mark where you are going to cut. Draw the lines on the back of the mat board, extending all the way to the edges. Make sure it's all perfectly square! (again quilter's rule can be handy but not essential, you can just do it the old fashioned way).

mat board cutting tute
Bevel cutting head - with blade pushed out

Note: Before you start cutting, make sure the depth of your bevel cutting blade is correct. Push the blade out and line it up with a piece of your mat board. It should extend just half a mm beyond the thickness of the board for a clean cut. Too deep and it'll cut too far into your cardboard "cutting mat" and affect the smoothness of your cut. The blade depth is adjustable.

mat board cutting tute
Cutting edge 1

Step 3: It's time to cut! Place your mat board face down on your cardboard "cutting mat". Remember, don't use one of those green cutting mats as they're far too hard and won't let your blade slide easily.

Place the ruler exactly in line with the left hand pencil line. You will be cutting away from yourself. Position the bevel cutter so the little marker is in line with the pencil line closest to you.

mat board cutting tute
Closeup of start position (this isn't a sponsored post by the way! That's just how my tools are branded!)

Push the handle down firmly and slowly cut away from yourself until the marker on your bevel cutter reaches the pencil line at the other end. Precision is very important!! Keep your elbow low to help with the smoothness of your cut.

mat board cutting tute
Cutting edge 2

Rotate your board counter clockwise so you're starting at the line you've already cut. Cut the second edge in the same way. Depending on your equipment, you might find that your first cut is 1mm off the pencil line. Ignore this when positioning your cutter head. Just refer to the pencil lines for start and stop positions. If it's not producing a clean corner then just take note of where you started and stopped and adjust accordingly.

mat board cutting tute
Cutting edge 4

Rotate your mat board counter clockwise again and cut the third edge. Repeat for the fourth edge. In this pic I'm holding the board up slightly just so you can see where I've cut.

mat board cutting tute
Lift it away!

If you've cut accurately, the outside of the mat board should just lift off leaving the middle behind! If you've got some little tags in the corners holding the middle in place, gently cut them free with a spare blade.

mat board cutting tute
Oooh pretty

Turn the board over and admire your corners! Ooh, pretty. I like how the white core stands out on a coloured mat :)

mat board cutting tute
Tape your print down

Carefully position your print in place and tape to the back of your mat.

mat board cutting tute
Closeup

mat board cutting tute
Finished! Today print framed with DIY cut mat board for a ready made frame.

Pop it in your frame, and voila! You're done!

32 comments:

Jacqui Dodds said...

Thank you so much for posting this I have been meaning to buy a mount cutter for ages and have not got around to it. Now I have some proper instructions on how to use it I don't have any excuses!

Jenny Butler said...

That's a great tutorial! I didn't realize it was so doable [with lots of practice given my shaky hands!]. Thanks for posting.

miss b said...

You make it look so easy. I've always wanted to have a go at this, and it gives me the confidence to have a go - Thank you x

michelle said...

i love the print. care to share where you got it?

hilde said...

Great tutorial! But please don't use sticky tape on your artwork. Most kinds of sticky tape are very damaging to paper. They will discolour with age, staining the paper and making it brittle. Even 'archival' tape like Filmoplast is not recommended as it is hard to remove. The correct way to mount art work is using methyl cellulose glue or wheat starch paste, as these are reversible. You could also use gummed tape (the tape that you wet slightly). As all these methods use water there is a chance of 'cockling'. To avoid this, let it dry under weight with some felt or cardboard to take up moisture. But be careful not to glue the cardboard to the artwork as well!
Also, it is important to use acid free mat board for the mount and the backing in the frame. Acid mount board will cause staining even when it has a layer of acid free paper on top (the staining will have the exact shape of the window you cut..). Sorry if this sounds too much as critique, I really like your tutorial!

thewillowsnest said...

thanks for sharing this.. I too have always looked at the cutters in the craft store but never known which to buy etc....! nice pics! .. brilliant!!

Oh.. when you got to the corners.. do you lift out your cutter..turn the board and re align it? I may have missed this bit..

Malinda Lloyd said...

Another person pitching in framing advice from pro experience....

only attach one edge!! the paper will expand and contract with ambient moisture - if you've taped all four sides then the paper will warp and wrinkle inside the frame.

Lara said...

Thanks everyone!

EXPERTS: I'll take on your feedback and amend the post shortly :)

If anyone's curious where the print is from, I bought it from here:

http://epla.no/products/6161/

Juicy Roo said...

Wow those corners are perfect! Love the print too. Your tutorial photos are always great. Nice work!

Mookah said...

How do you chickainka's find time do great such wonderful blogs when you are sooo busy printing wonderful fabrics?

Thanks for the Tutorial. We loved reading it. We may even frame a little something and send it to you as a token of appreciation!

Mookah mummy

Rachel@oneprettything.com said...

I can't wait to buy my next print and make my own mat. Thanks so much for this, I'll be linking as well.

Kate said...

I love the tutorial that you have presented. THe decoration in the wall is just wlwgant and so simple. Its so easy to follow. THanks a lot.

Candied Fabrics said...

Thanks, what a useful tute! ANd I LOVE that bird! Your fabric - did you make it? SO cute!

AMIT said...

Great tutorial.Lovely work.

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Laura said...

Very good tutorial, thank you! And congratulations on your new collection. I love how the lamps look like with your fabric.

ArtGirl/California/United States said...

very cool. thanks for the demo. and i love the final photo with the finished piece and the very cool cloth bird!! so lovely

Paul said...

That bird is damn cute too. Smiling now. Thanks.

cotton tapestries said...

Brilliant !!!

Cetatzeanul said...

emailed the link to my Girlfriend. She;ll be happy with this ! thx


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Mikey said...

thanks for this, amazing work.
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Mikey said...

Great tutorial! But please don't use sticky tape on your artwork. Most kinds of sticky tape are very damaging to paper. They will discolour with age, staining the paper and making it brittle. Even 'archival' tape like Filmoplast is not recommended as it is hard to remove. The correct way to mount art work is using methyl cellulose glue or wheat starch paste, as these are reversible. You could also use gummed tape (the tape that you wet slightly). As all these methods use water there is a chance of 'cockling'. To avoid this, let it dry under weight with some felt or cardboard to take up moisture. But be careful not to glue the cardboard to the artwork as well!
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realty world said...

Nice tutorial. Thak you.

Sonia said...

Looks amazing!!!! /I look forward to your feedback /thanks for this man it was very helpful.


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