Five Craft Projects You Can Do With Mat Board and Other Framing Supplies

Written by Mark Rogers

Mat board is an essential item for serious photographers, who understand that the final display of a photo is critical to fully appreciating it. The choice of picture frame and mat can have a big influence on the look and mood of a great picture. But mat board has a lot of other potential uses. Crafty folks can find lots of ways to get artsy with mat board as part of other projects, whether or not they have anything to do with photography. These are five ideas detailing how you can creatively use mat board in arts and crafts projects for your home or office.

Shape Collage

Instead of showing a single picture in a frame, put together a collage of small images to display more pictures at once. To add more visual interest, cut out shapes in the mat board to surround and offset the collage. First, cut a piece of mat board to fit your intended picture frame. Center it carefully and cut out the shape you want to fill with your collage. It can be a simple shape, such as a circle or diamond, or you can do something a little more complicated, like a cutting out a large letter that’s the initial of your family name or the shape of your home state. Lay out photos on a piece of paper or on a thin piece of mat board, arranging them to make a nice collage that will be visible through the cutout part of the mat frame. Use double-sided tape to fix your photos in place and to secure the paper to the mat before installing in the frame.

Quick and Easy Desk Mat

Mat board can be quickly made into a pretty desk mat for kids, teens, or adults. Simply cut a section of mat board to an appropriate size for the desk. Choose a color that coordinates with the room's décor or color scheme, or use a contrasting color to create an interesting and creative pop at the desk area. Kids can decorate theirs by drawing on or gluing pictures to the surface. For adults who use a desk calendar, a mat that is cut 1- inch larger than the calendar on all sides will create a nice border around the calendar.

Minimalist Framing

You can also use a piece of heavy mount board to display photos without a frame. Cut the mount board to the size of the picture you want to display, then affix the picture to the front of the board. If you cut the mount board slightly smaller than the photo or print, you can carefully wrap the edges of the picture neatly back to cover the sides of the mount board. Then you can use an easel stand to display the frameless picture or attach hardware to the back to hang the picture on the wall.

Birthday Party Autographs

For children’s birthday parties have a large piece of mount board and markers ready. Let the kids sign the mat board and write short messages for the birthday boy or girl. This special greetings board can be displayed in the child's room after the party. You can also use mount board to create party games, such as a customized version of “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” – maybe pin the eye patch on the pirate for a pirate-themed party.

Family Photo Wall

Mat boards add a beautiful finished touch to framed pictures; however, you can take decorating with family photos a step further by decorating and writing messages on the mat borders around pictures. Choose an appropriate solo photo of each member of your family. Use a larger photo frame and a mat with a wide border. Before you frame the picture of the individual, have the other family members write something kind about the person in the picture. Help young children add their own messages, draw small pictures, or apply a handprint. Fill up the mat with messages of love about the person in the photo before you finish framing it and then use the set of framed photos to anchor a family picture wall.

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