Frame a Print in Easy Steps

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How to Frame a Print in Easy Steps

This is a quick guide to matting and framing an inexpensive print.

Purchase your frame (and a mat, if required) to fit the picture. Frames can be found at most good home ware stores, such as ‘Wilkinson’s in the UK. You can buy a frame to fit or an oversized frame and mat to give a dramatic effect. Sometimes you can find a suitable frame sold at a give away price with its own picture. Simply discard the picture in readiness for your own. You may have a suitable frame you wish to recycle with a new picture.

Observe your piece of art and decide how much you want to have showing through the mat. You may be lucky enough to have a standard size picture that will fit the frame without the need to mat. You may decide that you want to ‘crop’ the picture, for example you may have a 11 x 8.5 inch picture and wish to show slightly less, say 10.5 x 11 inches. By cutting a mat with a central window of this size you can simply fit the print to the reverse side of the mat and insert into your frame.

Before starting think about a suitable surface to use for cutting out on. If you don’t own a cutting mat, use a thick cardboard or hardboard to protect the work surface or tabletop instead.

Measure your item in several places along the horizontal and along the vertical sides. Always double check your measurements! If there are variations use the smaller measurement and this way the mat will cover up any discrepancies. 

Practice the next step on a scrap piece of card(board), paper or mat. On the reverse of the mat measure and mark the edges of the window.  Allow at least 1/8 th of an inch overlap onto your art. You will need to have an equidistant sized mat on both sides and above, but a slightly larger mat border on the bottom. No more than approximately ¼ to ½ an inch maximum. You will find a straightedge ruler and a set square helpful if you have difficulty making your corners truly square.

Using a sharp utility knife and straightedge on your prepared cutout window carefully cut almost, but not into, the corners. Use a razor blade to carefully cut into the corners. If you are left with any rough edges use a fine sand paper or emery board to smooth them down.

Turn the mat over so that it is face down. Now place your print onto the mat, reverse side up and carefully place in the middle of the window. Using tape fix the print to the mat in the four corners then the sides. Ensure that most of the tape is on the mat and not the print.

Finally fit the matted picture into the frame on top of cleaned glass. Secure the rear of the frame in place and check the hanging wire is secure.  Before hanging your new print get someone to hold the framed print in different positions in the room, then choose the most appealing. Use a secure wall fixing to hang the frame onto.

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