matting1Once I had the frame assembled, I took it with me to my local art supply store to pick out matboard. Bringing the picture with me, in a protective sleeve, was also very helpful. After spending quite some time laying down different colored mats around the picture and laying the frame on top to see how it would look, I ended up choosing a kind of burgundy color which complemented both my artwork and the frame very nicely. The store had two options for buying matboard: I could either have them cut the mat and the opening for it for about $13 which would certainly have been convenient, or I could buy a very large sheet of matboard for about the same amount and cut it myself. I decided to buy the larger board and cut it myself so I would have some extra for other framingmatting2 projects. I also wanted to try cutting an oval freehand. The picture I am framing had a oval shape already drawn on it, but I drew it by hand– without a pattern– making it more of an egg shape. So It really would not have worked to have the store cut the matboard for me. I think the reason it was a little off from being an exact oval is that I trimmed the folded areas of my original pattern when it was not folded. See my post on making ovals for instructions. I think for this drawing the egg shape worked well though.

An artist friend of mine had offered to let me borrow her mat cutter, but could not find it. I have on previous occasions had a lot of experience with using Xacto knives for some pretty intricate cutting–so I thought maybe that would work if I was very careful. I laid the matboard on my clean kitchen table and lined the frame upmatting3 carefully with the corner of the board. then I traced the inner side of the frame with a pencil on the white side of the board, but tracing the glass would also have worked and probably been simpler now that I think of it LOL 😉 (good thing I can laugh at myself sometimes). I chose to cut starting on the reverse side of the mat because it is easier to hide mistakes that way. It was not the easiest thing in the world to cut through the mat with an Xacto knife, but it was possible after many passes over it. It did not look bad, and even if it had the edge of the frame will cover it by 1/4 inch.

matting7The tricky part was getting the oval. I got out some tracing paper I had on hand and traced my oval from the picture. If you are using a hand drawn oval rather than a pattern MAKE SURE TO MARK WHICH SIDE IS UP AND LEFT AND RIGHT, also make sure to make a note to yourself to FLIP IT OVER SIDEWAYS when you copy it to the back side of the matboard. I neglected to do this and it caused me a lot of grief and extra work. I had forgotten that the original oval I made on my drawing hadn’t turned out quite right at first and so I had trimmed it with the scissors while the pattern was not folded–which resulted in more of an ellipse). Copying the oval can be done several ways. either use a sheet of carbon paper matting34and trace it on, or cut out the oval and tape on the paper you cut it from, making sure to center it, and then trace. Cutting out the oval with the Xacto blade was much more difficult than doing a straight line. It might have been ok I I had remembered to mark and flip the pattern, but even then the cut was not as smooth as I would have liked. it’s extremely difficult cutting something that thick with an xacto and trying to keep the angle of the blade consistent.

matting 8I thought about remedying the situation by just cutting the board with a rectangular opening, but after getting a glimpse of how nice it would look with an oval I just couldn’t make myself do it. So, I started hunting for an inexpensive mat cutter. they can get pretty expensive up into the hundreds of dollars depending on what you want. A really basic model for cutting at either a 45 or 90 degree angle straight line runs anywhere from $50 or more. Freehand ones cost closer to 25, but the salesperson said that was not really any good for doing oval shapes with. Matcutters specifically designed for cutting ovals were matting5about $70. Ebay did have some mattcutters for much cheaper–anywhere from $10 and up mostly, but I was not sure how much shipping would be. Finally I went to another art store and found a mattcutter much like and Xacto knife, only much sharper. It also has a nice flat edge to rest it on while cutting. I had a coupon for 40% off and was able to get it for under $6. I still had to go over my cuts with it several times to get all the way through the board, but it was much easier. It was also much easier to hold the knife steady.

In order to fix the problem with having the oval flipped the wrong way , I enlarged the oval just about 1/8″(flipping it this time of course 🙂 ) then recut it. I taped my picture on the back with acid free tape, making sure to keep it level and centered.

***update*** 6/4/2012

I was just talking to a lady at a framing shop today, and she said to be sure to only attach the tape at the top, using a t hinge and attach it to the foam-board rather than the mat-board. You can make a t hinge by taking 2 strips of tape, and putting them, sticky sides together, in the shape of a T. I’ll take a photo of this to post later…

how to make ovals

matting6stay tuned for part 5…
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