I attended a professional framers show and something caught my eye. I'm sure you've seen them, a piece of art in a white mat with lines of different widths surrounding the opening. The image displayed also had decorative square corners. I stopped and spoke with the framer who had done the mat to ask him how he had accomplished the look.
The decorative squares used in the corners was a stamp he had purchased at a local stamp store. The lines were drawn with a professional framer's tool called a ruling pen. This process is called French Matting. French matting is pale washes of color surrounded by ink lines and known as the hallmark of European mat decoration.
I loved this idea! I could see it being used so many different ways. So, I purchased a "How-To" video, Windsor Newton Acrylic paints in several colors, a corkbacked ruler, the stamp from Stampington.com and a ruling pen at a local drafting supply store (ruling pens can be purchased online for as little as $8-$9.)
I then purchased several plain white smooth mats for practicing. It takes practice and a steady hand, but the finished product is beautiful. There are so many inspiration sites online, run a Google search for French Mats or check the list at the end of this article. I started with a very basic one line one stamp style.
Additionally, the bevel can be painted and watercolor wash can be added between the ruling lines. The sky's the limit. I am having a great time learning this new method of making our family photographs look wonderful as gifts.
The next step will be to add decorative papers. I'm not there yet, but I will let you know how I progress.
When I give a gift of a framed photograph I print information that is attached to the dust cover on the back of the frame. Below is the information I included with a gift of a framed photograph of my husband's grandmother for one of our children.
The picture of the little girl with her dolls is the photograph that has been framed. The information relates to the little girl. Trust me, this takes almost no time at all, and will be appreciated for generations to come.
Green & Stone
French Matting Kits:
French Matting Kit
The kit includes: Instruction Video, Acrylic Ink, Ruling Pen, Corked-bak Inking Ruler, Corner Marking tool, Tube of Watercolor Paint, Sabeline Lettering Brush, Mechanical Pencil, Two Rag Matboards, One Rag Mat Instruction Booklet. $29.40
Picture Framing Magazine
The Framer's Workshop
GJ Cloninger & Co.
French Matting On Flickr
Photograph in the collection of the author.