How to Mat Artwork (no frame)

Helpful hints for preparing for the MetroEast Youth Art Show. These directions are for the Pre-K thru grade 5 division. 

What you’ll need:
Mat board 
Backer board
Masking tape
Double stick tape

Measure your artwork.  You’ll need to know the width and height of the area you want to show. Custom matting can be expensive, so it can be helpful to work in standard sizes such as 5×7, 8×10, or 11×14. 

Once you know the size, you’ll need a mat board with the correct opening cut as well as a backer board the same outside dimensions. For example, if you have a piece of art that is 8×10, you may choose an 11×14 sized mat with an 8×10 opening. You’ll need a second piece of board (mat board or similar) that is 11×14

Label the back of the backing board with your information: Artist name, name of artwork, and contact information. 

Your artwork will need to be centered on the backing board. Place your artwork on the backing and measure the space on each side. There should be the same amount of  space above and below the artwork, as well as on the left and right sides of the piece. Use a pencil to make small marks in the corners on the backing to indicate the right spot.

Check how this looks by placing the cut mat board on top of the art and backer board. Make any adjustments necessary.

Once the piece is in place you’ll need to tape the back of your art to the backing. You’ll be using tape to create what’s called a hinge to attach your window to the backing. Put two pieces of tape in vertical lines on each side of the back of the piece, so the sticky side doesn’t touch the backing. Lay two more pieces of tape horizontally across the vertical pieces (sticky-side down) to adhere the artwork to the backing.

What type of tape to use? Linen and archival tape has the adhesive ability of regular tape, but it won’t damage your artwork or mat board. If you are not concerned about archival quality, masking tape will also work. For our art show purposes, masking tape will be just fine

Attach the mat board to the backing board simply use double stick tape around the edges. It can be helpful to first secure the mat and backer board together by creating a hinge with two piece of tape attached to the back of the cut mat board and the front of the backer board. 

Now you’re all ready to have your artwork displayed at the show!