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How To: Custom Photo Mats

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Have you ever had a piece of art or a photograph professionally matted and framed? If you did, you probably paid out the wazoo for it. I know at Hobby Lobby a custom mat will run you upwards of $20 and I’ve heard they can cost up to $100 from professional framing stores. If you’re a cheap-ass thrifty like me, this is not exactly ideal. Well, my friends I have a cheap and easy solution for you.

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Materials Needed:

Mat board (same size or larger than frame)
Picture Frame
Art or Photo to frame
X-ACTO Knife
Ruler

1. Start with a blank piece of mat board in your desired size. These can usually be found in the painting section of craft stores and come in a wide range of colors and thicknesses.  If available, choose a board the exact size of the frame you’re going to use. That way, you don’t have to trim the outer border of the mat. My mat cost around $3.

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*Here’s a close-up of the thickness I chose for my mat. You want something thicker than regular paper but not so thick you can’t cut through it or that the mat won’t fit in the frame.

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This is the print that I was cutting the mat for. I gave it to Jacob for his birthday (back in March, oops) and it was an odd size so a pre-cut mat wouldn’t work.

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2. Place the mat back-side up.

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3. Use your ruler and some simple math (yuck, I know) to figure out the middle of your mat and where the art should be placed to in order to be centered. I added in a small padding so the print sits behind instead of flush with the mat.

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4. Trace the (slightly smaller than the print) measurements onto the back of the mat board.

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5. Using a sharp X-ACTO knife, slowly cut along the lines you just traced.

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matboard8 6. Gently remove the inner board from the mat and, if necessary, fix any rough lines or corners.

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7. Attach your print to the mat with tape so it doesn’t shift in the frame.

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8. Re-assemble frame and hang!
Tip: frames are almost always 50% off at Hobby Lobby so check the online ads and you’ll never pay full-price.

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Ta-da! This would have cost me probably $100 with the custom mat cut and a full-price frame, but by cutting my own mat and getting the frame on sale I spent less than $25.

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