Bill demonstrated the use of a variety of
devices for cutting mats to size and cutting the beveled windows in
them. The simplest was a 48" aluminum drywall T-square, available at
Home Depot for $12, and a utility knife. These work well to cut 32" x
40" full sheets of mat board down to the size of your frame. You should
use a scrap piece of mat under the sheet you are cutting, and a piece of
hardboard or something similar below that to be sure that you don't cut
into the table.
Easier to use and less subject to user
error is Frank Letzler's 40" Logan combination straight and bevel
cutter. It automatically holds a 32" x 40" sheet parallel to the cutting
blade, with a scale to adjust the position of the sheet to get the size
mat you want. You lift a bar, put the mat in place, lower the bar, grasp
the straight cutting device, and pull it toward you to make a perfect
When you have cut the mat to fit your
frame, you can then set a guide at a distance from the bevel cutting
blade equal to the width of the border you want around the edge of the
painting. There is a convenient scale for doing this. Next you slide the
mat against the guide and draw a line on the back of the mat. Rotate the
mat 90 degrees and repeat until all four sides are marked. Then you pull
the bevel cutter from the start to the stop line on each side, after
which the center window drops out, leaving a perfect border for your
painting. A cutter like Frank's is on sale now at Cheap Joe's for $239,
but you can buy Frank's for considerably less. Make us an offer!
Michael's and Hobby Lobby have less
expensive, smaller mat cutters. An $80 model consists of a 24" ruler
with a channel along one edge, a mat knife, and a bevel cutter, both of
the latter fitting the channel in the ruler. However, it is far too
short to cut full sheets, and you have to measure and draw the necessary
lines without any help. A $120 model is 32" long and has a parallel
guide for marking and cutting the beveled window, but it has no
provision for cutting the mat to size. You would need a T-square with
either of these.
Bill showed some of his wife's watercolor
paintings bordered by colored mats, a possibility that can enhance some
paintings by picking up some colors in them. Most of Judy's painting are
bordered by white or light creams or grays, however. This still enlarges
the painting area and makes the painting more impressive, but it remains
neutral and unobtrusive.
also showed some oil paintings with narrow and wide frames, and also one
with a linen mat inside a larger frame. As you can see in the photo at
the right (which you may need to enlarge by clicking on it), the larger
the frame, the more impressive the painting seemed. Unfortunately,
ready-made open back frames with such mats are relatively rare and
expensive. Charleen Isbell has been using an alternative means of
achieving this look. She masks off a border around her canvas, and
paints within it. The border, which can be painted before or after the
painting, can be made any color that suits you.
Bill has been using this approach
recently. An especially convenient canvas size for this is 20" x 24."
A 2" border all around reduces the painting area to 16" x 20."
There are some 20" x 24" frames for these canvases, although there are
not as many choices as there are for a 16" x 20"
painting without a border. Other possibilities are 18" x 24" canvas and
frame, reduced by a 2" border to a 14" x 20" painting, or a 22" x 28"
canvas and frame, reduced by a 2" border to 18" x 24." There are many
other sizes, of course. By beginning with standard frame and canvas
sizes, you can use this method to get a border effect with ready-made
materials at a considerable savings over having a frame and border
Following the presentation a few members
practiced with the available cutters and several bought some of Frank's
mats, with the proceeds going to the Letzler Awards fund. Bill had a
handout, but neglected to mention it until the very end, when only a few
people were there to get one. We'll try to make them available at the
October 10 meeting. Thanks to Bill for an informative demo, to the
executive board, who brought refreshments, and to Charleen Isbell,
Bobbee Watts, Linda Green, Nancy Cagle, Judy Franklin, and Christine
Niekamp, who brought works for show and tell, some of which are shown
Show and Tell
Judy Franklin Linda Green