For quite some time, I've admired the work of Michelle Armas. Her great use of color and texture is what inspired me to make some art of my own. While an original piece of art can hurt the wallet, buying a print reproduction is an affordable alternative. And that's just what I did. I had a really hard time choosing because they all really spoke to me, but in the end I selected the Halcyon Print. I found the perfect place for it in our upstairs hallway:
I also had a print from my previous Olive Box subscription that needed to be framed. The print came in a non-standard dimension, 9" X 6", so I've been struggling to find the right frame for it (and I wasn't willing to pay a small fortune for a custom-made one).
I decided to take matters into my own hands. I bought a simple white picture frame from IKEA and planned to cut my own mat in the correct dimensions. To cut mat board, you need a special beveled cutter. Using an exacto knife will not produce the same professional-looking results.
Here's a list of the supplies needed (I bought some online, some at the local art supplies store):
- Push-Style Beveled Mat Cutter + Ruler kit (I used the Logan brand)
- Self Healing Cutting Mat
- Mat Board
- Non Slip surface to prevent the cutting mat from moving around (I used a drawer liner and it worked perfectly
Some tips, before starting:
- The ruler is absolutely key for stability and straight cuts. I initially purchased just the cutter and it was an absolute disaster. Trust me, get the ruler. The cutter clips on to the edge of the ruler and glides back and forth in a straight line. The ruler also has some rubber grips underneath to prevent slippage.
- When fastened onto the ruler, it wasn't really gliding at all. I thought I was doing something wrong at first, but Adam suggested adding a little oil to the track and that did the trick.
- I strongly recommend getting practice mat board to get comfortable with the tool and making calculated cuts. It was a lifesaver for me.
- Set the correct depth on your bevel cutter; you'll have to play around with the settings based on the thickness of your mat board.
How-To (sorry but I forgot to take pics while I was doing the real thing, so what you will see now is just a mini mockup):
- First thing to do is cut the mat board to size (simplest is to trace the frame's board backing onto the underside of the mat board). For this, you can use an exacto. I used a paper cutter because my exacto didn't have a sharp enough blade, which in retrospect was not the best idea.
- Flip the mat board so that the good side is facing down towards the cutting mat.
- With a pencil and straight edge, mark the borders of the opening you wish you make. Make sure to extend the lines all the way to the edge of the board, as it will allow you to make better precision cuts.
- Align the your first pencil line with the outer edge of the rule, ensuring that the bevel cutter is located inside the cutout you are about to make. This is an important step that I learned the hard way; it took me 7-8 times to figure out that if I did this, the bevel would be cut/shown on the good side of the mat board. Next, align the marker of the cutter on the bottom pencil line.
- Press down on the thumb lever of the cutter and push the cutter along the straight edge until the marker reaches the top pencil line. Lift the cutter lever and glide the cutter back to the starting point. You may need to repeat this step a few times on the same line to ensure that the cut goes all the way through to the other side.
- Turn the mat board counterclockwise and repeat the same cutting process, again ensuring that the cutter is on the inside of the cutout.
- Once all 4 sides are cut, the window will pop out automatically (assuming you cut all edges properly). It it doesn't, don't force it out as it may rip the mat board. Instead, go over the problematic cuts once again with the cutter.
- You now have a custom mat for your frame.