You’re probably wondering why I am all about the matting and framing artwork tutorials lately.
Well, we’ve been in our new house over a year now, and we’re almost unpacked (just six or so more boxes to go, Friends!), so it must be time to get some art on the walls!
Real art. That isn’t stuck on with washi tape. Ahem.
My favorite way to display art is in a thrifted frame (repainted, of course, preferably in slate grey) on top of a DIY photo mat. There are several types of homemade mats that I love, including this decoupaged candy wrapper mat that I like for kids’ photos, this fabric-matted photo that works well for all kinds of pieces, and an embellished fabric photo mat that I’m going to show you next week for those extra-special works, but this particular mat that I’m going to show you how to make today is probably my absolute favorite.
This type of photo mat, made up of torn book pages (and yes, I know that some of you are FREAKING out about the fact that I’m destroying a book, so let me just go ahead and stop you right there. I love books more than I love most people, but nobody, and I mean nobody, really needs this particular beat up copy of Funk and Wagnall’s Standard Dictionary, Volume 2, in their lives. I promise!), looks lovely with a lot of photos, but I think it looks particularly nice when paired with a black and white image. Here’s everything that you need to make your own:
old book. Choose your book depending on the effect that you want. One photo might look great with a mat made from old comic book pages. Another might look great with a large-print book, so that its words are legible from a distance. I like the small print of the pages that I chose for this photo mat; you can see that it’s text, but you must step close to read it, and you’ll likely only notice if you’re family (or if I point it out to you, which I’m doing now!) that all the dictionary words are W words, because that’s the first letter of the first name of the awesome kid in that photo.
One thing that you’ll want to keep in mind is the level of acid of these papers; I care little about keeping most things archivally safe, because I like the look of things that have lived a life, but obviously you want to pay attention to such matters if you’re framing something precious.
old picture frame. I’m sure you’ll want to repair and repaint whatever frame you’ve thrifted; check out my framed fabric art tutorial for more detailed instructions about this.
double-sided tape. Since pressure will hold everything together, you just need small pieces, just to keep the torn paper and the photo in place.
1. Prepare the picture frame for its new inhabitant. This means mending and painting the frame and cleaning the glass front to squeaky-cleanness. Did you find any ancient letters, missing wills, or lost stock certificates when you took the frame apart? I’m always hoping for that!
2. Begin sticking book pages directly to the frame’s cardboard back. I usually work directly on the picture frame’s backing board; often, my DIY photo mats add so much extra thickness that I don’t want any extra mat board or cardstock involved. Even though these book page embellishments won’t be so thick, the cardboard back is sturdy and already the perfect size–it’s hard to pass up!
To tear a page cleanly, line up a ruler along the place where you want the tear, then tear the paper–the ruler will keep the tear straight, but still give you a lovely torn edge.
Make your placement of the torn book page pieces look deliberately random. You don’t want any part of it to draw the eye, as that would take away from the effect of your photo, so keep your composition balanced.
3. Measure and place your photo. Center your photo in all directions, then use small pieces of double-sided tape to stick it directly to the embellished photo mat. Reassemble the picture frame, hang it somewhere stunning, and you’re done!
If book pages aren’t fitting with your overall design scheme, there are a lot of other types of papers that would work here. Think about using napkins, newspaper (although it’s terribly acidic!), notebook paper (paper that’s written on would look really cool), old artwork (watercolored pieces would be gorgeous), or wrapping paper.