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    Matting your artwork with a hinged window is the most basic form of presentation. You can display the matted work either with or without a or frame. Here we will cut our mat to fit a frame and use photo corners to mount the image.

    If you are going to be framing your matted picture, buy the frame first. Measure the interior dimensions of the frame so that you are sure your mat will fit inside. Measure your mat board to fit the interior of your frame and mark it lightly with a pencil. The first task is to cut two boards exactly the same size--one for the back and one for the window.

    Using a fixed system mat cutter is convenient but not necessary. Alternatively, you can use a handheld mat cutter and a thick ruler or straight edge as a cutting guide bar. Hold the cutting guide in place with one hand or clamp it to the table using Pony clamps to stabilize it. Then slide your mat cutter along the edge of the cutting guide.



    Measuring the Window
    Make sure that both your backing board and the board that you will use for the window fit inside the frame. Mark and cut on the dirty side of your board.

    Measure the width of the your artwork. Measure the width of your board. Find the difference between the width of the board and the width of the image. Add another quarter inch so that the window slightly overlaps the art. Divide that number in half.  This will be the width of the two side edges of the window. Mark the edges on either side of the board.

    • edge width = (width of the board - width of the image) / 2

    Measure the height the same way and mark it on the board.

    • edge height = (height of the board - height of the image) / 2

    Step 1


    Step 2

    Step 1 - Subtract the height of the image from the height of the backing, and the width of the image from the width of the backing.

    Step 2 - The difference of the height divided by two is the height of the top and bottom edges.The difference of the width divided by two is the width of the two side edges.


    Cutting the Window
    Specialty mat cutters are easy to use and convenient. But you can use any cutting edge that you are comfortable with.  Just be sure it is thick enough to comfortably guide your mat cutter. Remember, you can clamp the straight edge to your table to secure it.

    If you are using a beveled mat cutter, face the cutting edge away from you. Be sure to use a fresh, sharp blade.  You will start your cut just before the marks on your board and just after. The beveled mat cutter will have a mark on the back to help you position the blade. Position the blade before you put any pressure on it. Be careful not to over-cut!

    Regardless of the type of mat cutter you are using, draw the blade firmly and smoothly through the board. Keep your pressure on the cutter even. Cut all four sides of the mat.

    • Tip: The blade of your cutter must go all the way through the board and a bit beyond. Put a piece of scrap board under your mat as you cut to protect your cutting surface and the blade. 


    Hinging the Mat
    Line up the top edges of the window board and the backing board. Lie the two boards on a flat surface. Make sure that the mat window is facing front side down and the backing board is front side up.

    Cut a piece of linen tape just a bit shorter than the width of your mat. Moisten the linen tape sparingly and firmly press it into place. Allow it to dry before positioning the artwork.

    • Tip: Keep your hands clean!




    Attaching the Artwork
    Make sure your hands are clean. You can wear a clean cotton glove to protect the artwork. Place your artwork on the backing board and fold the hinged window over it. Gently position your artwork so that it sits correctly in the window.

    Anchor the artwork in place so that it doesn't slip. You can use a clip or a paperweight. Use archival quality photo corners to secure the image in place. Images larger than 11x14 inches should be dry mounted.

    If your images are a standard size you may be able to buy a precut mat of archival quality.