Picture Frame Mats – To Mat or Not To Mat

One of  the first considerations to make when framing a work of art is whether it should have a mat around the piece. There are a few reasons I would recommend to mat artwork. Hopefully this will help you to make the decision for your piece. These are as follows:

Firstly, a mat is used as a border between the artwork and the frame. Using the mat as a border has a few benefits for the artwork. It is used to keep the glass from sitting directly against your artwork and possibly causing damage to the piece. When the mat is set between the artwork and the glass it creates an airspace which keeps condensation from becoming trapped between the artwork and glass.

Second, a mat can be used to add colour, texture or pattern to enhance the artwork. Sometimes we choose the mat to bring out a particular colour to strengthen the focus within the artwork. Some child art projects can be enhanced, or brought to another level of fun, by using mats to draw out colours from the artwork, or complement the colours in the work. Other times we may even want to use a fabric mat to add texture or to bring an emotional response to the artwork. And other times we may want to use matting to replicate a pattern within the artwork.

The most important consideration of the use of the mat for these purposes is that it enhances the artwork, but not so much that it becomes a distraction.

Mats can be cut to any size, and can be layered with the same colour mat or with a variety of different colour mats.

You can have different shapes cut for your mat opening, although the most common is a rectangular or a square opening, but circles, ovals, or any other shape that best suits the artwork can be cut.

Instances when I definitely use a mat:

When I mat documents, such as a Diploma or Certificates and most paper art, like original watercolour artworks or sketches, I use a mat to protect the item from contact with the glass.

When I mat cross-stitch and other needle crafts, it is to enhance and protect the piece the by the addition of space between the art and frame.

When Framing More Than One item

When you want to frame more than one item, into a single frame, a mat can be cut with multiple openings to display the items together. An example of this would be photographs of all the children in the family together in one frame.

When Shadowboxing

When shadowboxing an object the mat is used as a backing to surround the object and display it within the frame, giving the object more of a presence by surrounding it with a mat backing which displays the piece. An example of this is a carving or mask that could hang on the wall but by shadowboxing it gives the artwork a defined space on the wall.

Sometimes when shadowboxing, you have a number of items which you want to group together, that can be mounted on a mat, and then put into a single frame. An example of this is a photograph along with memorabilia which belonged to the individual.

Layering Through the Use of Mats

Have you ever seen artwork look as though it has depth.  By layering mats, the addition of a second or third mat on top of the previous one, you can create dimension and depth. At other times, you can create movement by way of the mat texture – think of an image of rippling water surrounded by a fabric mat with the same ripple pattern.

In conclusion, these are the decisions that we think about when presented with the artwork entering our store. The real key to success with matting is that we work together with you, the customer, to present the basics of design, the rational and the possibilities present, by matting, to help direct the enhancement of your artwork.

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