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Video:How to Mat and Frame a Picture

with Gretchen Siegchrist

Make the most of your favorite photos by showcasing them in a beautiful mat and frame. Learn how to mat and frame a picture at home.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Mat and Frame a Picture

Hi, I am Gretchen Siegchrist for About.com Home. Today I'm going to show you how to mat and frame a picture.

Tools Needed to Mat and Frame a Picture

For this project you will need:
  • a picture
  • a frame
  • a heavy-duty piece of paper or mat board
  • a pencil
  • a straightedge
  • an Exacto knife or a mat cutter
  • tape
Make sure that the tape and mat you are using are acid-free, so they don't deteriorate your picture over time.

Prepare the Work Area

Because we are cutting the mat, you will need an appropriate surface to work on. Lay down a piece of cardboard if you do not want your work surface scratched.

When to Use Mat Board

Make sure that the frame you are using will be able to hold your mat. Mat board is relatively thick, and oftentimes frames will not hold it.

If you think this is going to be the case, you can still mat your picture. Just use some heavy-duty paper instead of actual mat board.

Cut the Mat to Fit the Frame

The first thing that you will want to do is cut your mat to fit the frame. You can measure the dimensions and then sketch them onto your mat board. Or, an easier way is to trace around an insert from the frame. Cut out the mat using the Exacto knife.

Measure an Opening for the Picture

Now you will need to measure an opening for the picture. In this case, I'm dealing with a 5 x 7 inch frame and a 4 x 6 inch photo. So, I will give the mat borders of about 1 inch. This means it will overlap the photo by about 1/2 inch on each side and look nicely proportioned within the frame.

Horizontally, your picture should be equidistant from both sides of the frame. But vertically, your picture should be a little closer to the top of the frame than to the bottom. If you cut the mat with a 3/4-inch border on the top and a 1 1/4-inch inch border on the bottom, it will actually look centered to the naked eye.

Cut an Opening for the Picture

Measure the opening for the picture and sketch it in pencil on the back of the mat. Now, you are ready to begin cutting.

Hold your straightedge firmly against the line that you drew, and press your mat cutter into it. Cut along the line in one swift motion, being careful to stop precisely in the corner.

Secure the Picture to the Mat

Tape the picture to the top edge of the mat only. By not attaching the bottom, the picture can lay flat in the frame and will not ripple. Lay down the picture with the top along the top of the frame. Get it nicely set there.

Then, take a piece of tape and lay it down vertically in this corner. Do the same thing on the other side. Now we will put pieces of tape horizontally, one against the mat on each side. That will hold the original piece of tape in place. We will do the same thing against the picture to hold that tape in place.

And now your picture should be nicely secured, but it will still hang free so it can lie smooth and flat at all times.

Place the Picture and Mat in the Frame

Now that your picture should be hanging beautifully inside the mat, it is ready to pop into the frame and display in your home.

Thanks for watching. To learn more, visit us on the Web at homegarden.about.com.
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