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How to Mat Photos & Artwork

Written by Jason

Matting is a cost-effective way to protect photographs and artwork. Whether you want to transform a printed photograph or give a professional look to your artwork, matting will get the job done. 

Simply put, this process involves creating a border that offers proper balance and gives a refined look to your framing projects. 

This article will look at step-by-step instructions on how to mat pictures like a professional.

Method 1: Hinge Mounting Artwork

If you have a tight budget or want to temporarily mat or mount limited-edition prints, hinge mounting may be an ideal solution. This method involves using acid-free hinging tape to mount your artwork. These tapes are easy to peel off and prevent damage to your artwork since they do not touch the art. 

Materials:

For this method, you will need:

  • Your artwork
  • A mat board
  • A backing board/mounting board
  • Tape (preferably linen hinging)
  • Scissors
  • A weight
  • A burnishing bone (optional)

Instructions:

Follow these steps to hinge mount prints.

Step 1:

The first step is choosing the right mat board. Finding the right mat is crucial because it is a protective barrier between the image and the frame. You can choose between a double or a single mat without an inner border. Investing in an acid-free mat board is highly recommended to prevent discoloration and disintegration of your artwork. The color should complement the artwork.

Step 2:

Once you have the right mat and backing board, the next step is to attach them using tape. Place your mat board facing down alongside the backing board facing up. Ensure that the top edges are touching.

Step 3:

Take the scissors or razor blade and cut a piece of linen tape measuring several inches longer than the boards. Use it to tape the two boards and create a hinge between them. Use your hand or a burnish bone to burnish the tape and ensure that the ends are secured well. Trim off any excess ends.

Step 4:

On the mounting board, place the artwork and ensure it is well-centered. Once done, fold over the mat window so it is right side up on the mount board.

Step 5:

Place several paperweight objects on the photo to keep it from moving. This can be things like a book or any weighted object. 

Step 6:

Cut four pieces of art hinging tape, with each piece measuring 2 inches. Remove the protective plastic and turn the artwork over to adhere to the tape at the back. Stick one sticky side up vertically on the back of the photo and one sticky-side horizontally over the already exposed tape. This should form a T-hinge. Repeat the process with the other two tapes to form another T-hinge.

Step 7:

To attach the hinges, center your photo and slide the sticky side up horizontally about 2 to 3 inches from the photo’s edge. Slide the sticky side down and press it down. Repeat the same process with the other T-hinge.

Step 8:

After attaching both T-hinges, now close the matte board. Also, remove the weighted objects and place the photo in a frame. Ensure the frame’s interior glass is clean and free from dust, fibers, and streaks. If you must, remove the glass from the frame and clean it using a paper towel and a glass cleaner.

Method 2: Use of Mounting Strips

Archival mounting strips are great to use if you don’t want to permanently fix photos to mats and boards. This means that your customer can uncouple the print if they want to. The other benefit of this method is that the adhesive does not touch the print, which protects the art and renders it easy to change mats.

Supplies Needed:

  • Your photo
  • A mat
  • A backing board
  • Linen hinging tape
  • Archival mounting strips
  • A knife, razor blade, or a pair of scissors

Instructions:

Once you have the supplies, follow these step-by-step instructions to mount them with strips.

Step 1:

With all the supplies at hand, place the mat board and the backing board next to each other. The mat should be laying upside down. Use scissors to trim the tape so it is slightly larger than both boards. Gently attach the backing board to the mat board and ensure it is well adhered to.

Step 2:

Trim the excess ends of the linen hinging tape using a pair of scissors or a razor blade. Now, close your mat and place the artwork at the center of the backboard. Once it is perfectly centered, place a weight to weigh it down.

Step 3:

Get four pieces of archival mounting strips and place them on both the right and left sides of the artwork. When adhering to the tape, ensure the photo does not overlap. However, if it does, you may want to trim it with scissors or a razor blade.

Step 4:

Take off the weight and close the mat board to ensure the bond with the adhesive. Once done, you can now frame the artwork.

Method 3: Mounting Using Photo Corners

This method is a bit more expensive as opposed to hinge mounting. Nevertheless, photo corners are ideal for photographers who want to mat or mount a photo without using chemical compounds. This is because photo corners are acid-free, and most of them have archival quality. 

Materials:

For this method, you will need:

  • The artwork
  • A mat board
  • A mounting board
  • Photo corners
  • Linen hinging tape
  • Utility knife or a pair of scissors
  • A weight

Instructions:

Here is how to mat pictures with mounting corners.

Step 1:

Lay the mat board facing down and the mounting board facing up. Place them alongside each other with their top edges touching.

Step 2:

Tape them with a piece of linen tape or any other acid-free tape. The length of the tape can be 4 inches long or based on the print’s size. Once done, the mat board should be able to close over the mount board.

Step 3: 

Place the photo at the center of the backing board. Lift the mat and adjust the artwork until it is perfectly centered underneath it. Next, lift the mat and add a paperweight or any other barrier to keep it in place.

Step 4:

The next step is to place the photo corners into the artwork. If you don’t have commercial photo corners, you can easily make yours at home. You just need to fold two sides of the acid-free paper at 45 degrees. The two ends should be even and meet at 90 degrees.

Step 5:

Lift a corner of the photograph and gently place the photo corner. Do this with the other three sides and tape with acid-free tape. Also, you can burnish the mounting corners with your hand or a burnishing bone.

Step 6:

Get rid of the weight before closing the mat board.

Step 7:

Clean the frame’s glass and then insert the photo, mat, and backboard. Secure the backboard in the frame using fasteners, and the photo will be good to go.

Mat Your Memories

Whether you are a professional photographer or enthusiastic about artwork, knowing how to mat pictures will go a long way in defining their appearance. Matting is a simple DIY project you can do at home with a small budget. You just need the right tools and a bit of practice to perfect the skill.