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How to Cut a Mat


Matting Basics

A mat is necessary to protect works on paper, physically preventing the surface of the artwork from coming in contact with picture glass (or another matted work if stacked for storage). Professional picture framers will provide this service, but many artists find the cost prohibitive, and the turnaround time doesn’t always mesh with deadlines. Every artist should be capable of handling presentation in-house, at least occasionally.

Pre-cut Mats

A low-cost solution for images produced in quantity is to purchase pre-cut mats in bulk packs, and create work in scale with standard sizes. For photographers and printmakers, the sheer number of art objects being produced may mean finding another option.

Cutting Your Own Mats.

For artists needing mats cut every week, a mat cutting device is a good investment. The range of price and sophistication in this product category is extremely broad. In general, the less expensive and simpler models are much more dependent on the user’s mechanical skill, and much less capable of cutting large mats.

Small units such as the Logan Hand-Held Mat Cutters are great for cutting occasional, small mats (windows 16×20” and smaller), using a board and T-square. The Logan hand-helds can be attached to the same manufacturer’s larger models.

Studio Mat Cutters use aluminum rails to hold cutters in a fixed path, so miscutting is much less of a risk than with a hand-held device. (It’s also harder to cut yourself.) The entry-level versions with a cutting rail like the Logan 424 Team System require a board and a square, but give the advantage of a fixed cutting path at an affordable price. Higher priced models include an attached board and squaring device; top-of-the-line models include both bevel and straight cutter, and a glass cutter for picture glazing. The most expensive mat cutting systems will accommodate larger boards and offer a greater degree of accuracy with less practice.

Mat Boards

For valuable artwork, matting should be done according to correct practices and with archival materials. Utrecht offers Bainbridge Acid-Free Mat Boards in a full range of colors in 32×40” sheets. For works of antique value, Strathmore 4-ply Museum Board is a good choice, due to its 100% rag composition. Smaller works can be matted using Mi Tientes Art Boards, a 100% archival product. 100% rag foam core boards are ideal for backing framed art.

Archival Mounting Products

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