Thrifty Custom Framing.

Recently I headed into one of our local craft stores, armed with the monthly coupon flier, hoping to find a way to afford custom framing a very special mother’s day card I received from my sister this year. (One of Anja’s famous collages). Of course, if you’ve ever tried to get something custom framed, you know it costs an arm and a leg.

If you have a coupon it only costs a leg.

Frankly, I’m still using both my legs and don’t like the idea of an appendage hanging on my wall. But I digress.

The art I wanted to frame was literally 6 inches square. They wanted to charge me $140 to get a single mat, the cheapest glass, and a basic frame around my little postage stamp. With the coupon it would have been $70. Whoop-de-do. I walked back out, discussing ‘Plan B’ with Jeremy on the ride home.

Plan B is to find a frame that fits the artwork, then just paying ($17) for a custom mat. I can paint the frame the color I want, and it will be just as nice for WAY less. I just have to wait until I get a chance to visit the craft store again when frames are on sale.

Meanwhile, I decided to use the thrifty approach with another piece of art I wanted to hang in my living room. I bought a cheapo (and I do mean cheapo – but if you don’t feel it you wouldn’t know) frame at walmart, and custom cut a mat myself. It’s not perfect, but it works. The whole deal cost me less than $5, and I’m gonna show you how I did it.

1.Gather your materials – cheapo frame with mat, ruler, cutting mat, exacto blade, and, of course, your artwork. You want the mat in the frame to have a smaller opening than the size of your artwork.

 2. Measure the exact dimensions of your piece to be framed.

3. Measure the exact dimensions of the inside of your mat.

4. Subtract the length of your mat from the length of your artwork. Take the difference and divide it in half. Now subtract 1/8 in. to that measurement – so that your mat will overlap your frame just a bit. That is the amount you will cut off and discard from the mat. Do the same for the hieght. Example:
Length of Apple Tree Painting – 12 in.
Length of Mat Opening –           11 in.
(Subtract)
Amount to cut off –                      1 in.
(Divide in half)
Amount to cut off each edge –     1/2 in.
(Subtract 1/8 in.)                      
Actual amount to cut off               3/8 in.

Use your ruler to mark the lines on the underside of the mat. Measure carefully – if you cut that opening too big, you’ll have to go back to walmart (and nobody wants to do that!)

5. Time to cut – Press your ruler tightly to the mat on top of your cutting mat. You will use both your line and the ruler as a guide to try to get a nice, straight cut. Don’t worry if you slip a little – I did, but you can’t see it unless you look real close… Make sure you don’t cut beyond your lines at the corners, either. Just be as tidy as you can.

6. Once your Mat opening is cut, tape your artwork to it on the backside.

7. Frame it! Slide the whole thing back into the frame (give the glass a nice wipe down first), and – wha-la

Cheap but Plenty-Good-Enough. Better than a special piece of artwork sitting in a box in the attic for another 8 years getting chewed by mice. (literally). BTW – This painting was one I did in an acrylics class years ago. It’s from a photo of a friend’s apple tree. It’s hanging happily in my living room now

3 responses to “Thrifty Custom Framing.”

  1. Jessica Avatar

    Aren't those frames from walmart wonderful?! I seriously bought about 30 5×7 and 15 8×10…They're great for gifting people pictures of our daughter or any of my other projects.

    Can't wait to see Anja's collage.

  2. KnittySue Avatar

    You did a great job and it looks perfect on the wall. Over the years framing my large counted cross stitch pieces have led to the same issues..big $$ as most of them were big pieces (18×18 ish). When they used to have framed art for clearance at my local Kmart I would go with a tape measure and measure the inside of the mat or frame until I found one that would fit my piece. It would usually cost me 10.00 or less.

  3. Belle Avatar

    Love the painting, it looks great in the frame. I do the same thing with some of my pictures, only I get a frame from Salvation Army. Sometimes I paint it, but lots of times I like it as it is.

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