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September 12 - Bill Franklin - Mats and Frames

Bill Franklin is the ultimate Do-It-Yourselfer. He does carpentry, plumbing, wiring, cabinetry, metal work, concrete and masonry, and most anything else. Mostly he cons his wife, Judy, into doing the painting, although he did help with the exterior of their house. Both do art painting, and Bill does the matting and framing. DIY matting and framing is really pretty simple, once you know how. So come and find out how to save a bundle while giving your art that finished (and saleable) look. Bring an unmatted work on paper (drawing, watercolor, collage, etc), and you can mat it at the meeting. Bring an unframed 16x20 work on board or canvas, and you can try out a few frames to see what works best.


We will meet at our usual time and place, 1:30 for conversation and refreshments, meeting and demo at 2:00, Waco Charter School, 615 N 25th street. Bring a work or two for Show and Tell. And bring friends. First time visitors are free, or they can join for the rest of 2010 for only $4. Regular Membership for 2011 is only $15 for those with email, if paid before Jan 1. Students younger than 21 are only $5, and college art majors are free! Add $10 to have a web gallery of your works. Add $5 if you have no email.

September 12 - Bill Franklin - Matting and Framing

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 cut.


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.


He 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 custom made.


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 below.


Show and Tell


  Judy Franklin        Linda Green        Charleen Isbell                  Christine Niekamp                  Bobbee Watts


Contests you might want to enter


HOT Creative Arts Exhibit/Contest, Oct 8-16. There are small cash prizes and a $3 entry fee. Rules are extensive. See pages 6-11 of the creative arts catalog at


Bosque County Arts Club judged art show and contest, Oct 16-30, Clifton.

           Some rules, cash prizes. For entry form and rules, call Debra 254-597-2491.

         First entry $15, second, $10. Fee on sales 15%.


The Hunting Art Prize, Houston. Hard to beat for ease and cost of entry. One entry per person, 2D art not over 72" including frame. Just send a digital image (1-3 MP jpeg) by November 30. No entry fee. You will be notified next spring if your art has been accepted, and you will be invited to the Gala in early May. You need to ship or take your work to Houston about April 1, and pick it up after the Gala or have it shipped back. (Shipping is at your expense.) If it sells, there is no commission. There is only one prize: $50,000. To learn more or to enter, visit




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