Matting 2D Works on Paper for Artists

Matting 2D Works on Paper for Artists

If you want to exhibit or sell your artwork, it's not just about creating the art, you have to know how you're going to present it. When I first started submitting my artwork for shows, I was mounting most of my pieces to wood panels. Last year, when I decided to lean into slow stitching and add embroidery to my gel prints that was not an option, so I had to figure out a framing plan.

In a perfect world, I would have all my art professionally framed, but I often can't afford to do that, so I've spent time searching YouTube and other art blogs trying to DIY various steps in the framing process. This is my process for matting a work on paper, whether you or your customer put it in the final frame.

Supplies Needed:

  • Acid-free mat with a window cut out to fit your artwork
  • Backing board the same size as your mat
  • Linen hinging tape
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Small object to use as a weight
  • Clean work surface (This should go without saying, but has anyone else ever ruined a mat by putting it down on a dirty surface in your studio?)

I'll start by saying I don't cut my mats. This would be another cost saver, but I'm not good at it, so I usually purchase them pre-cut from or with a frame from

I sometimes cut my backing boards, but it's usually easier to purchase them with the mat. I use either mat board or acid-free foam core for the backing board. Some of you might wonder why I need the backing board. Because I'm NOT attaching my artwork to the top mat. Artwork needs to be able to breathe, i.e. expand and contract slightly in the frame.

To attach my artwork to the backing board I use Linen Hinging Tape by Lineco. It's acid-free and incredibly strong. I've never had a piece of art come loose with this tape.

Picture of Linen Hinging Tape by Lineco

I've detailed my steps below, but it's probably easier to watch this short video that provides a quick overview of the process.

Matting a Work on Paper - My Steps:

  1. Lay your top mat face down and your backing board face up aligned next to each other. Tape the mat and backing board together using Linen Hinging Tape. This creates a hinge for your mat/backing board window.
  2. Flip the top mat over, so it is now laying face up on the backing board using the hinge you just created.
  3. Slip your artwork underneath the top mat and line it up as you like inside the window. I often have space between the artwork edge and the mat edge, so I use a quilting ruler to make sure the space around each edge is the same amount.
  4. Place a small clean object on top of the artwork to act as a weight and keep the artwork from moving for the next step.
  5. Open the window by flipping the top mat up. Cut 4 small strips of Linen Hinging Tape. Use 2 strips to create a "T" for each top corner. I attach 1/2 the vertical strip (face up) to the backside of the artwork first, then place the horizontal strip (face down) across the top of the remaining vertical strip, which also secures it to the backing board. (Describing this sounds complicated, so I recommend watching the video.)
  6. Flip the top mat back down and you're done! Your artwork is now ready to be put in a frame (or a plastic sleeve).

NOTE: Using the "T" method makes it easy to remove your work on paper from the mat without damaging the artwork paper. Simply use an Xacto knife to cut across the "T" tape near the top of your artwork.

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Thanks Kathryn!

And, no I don’t worry about putting my acrylic work under glass. I always make sure there is enough space, either with a spacer or mat, to ensure enough distance between the artwork and the glass (or plexi).

Maren Oates

Such a great explanation/ demonstration. Thank you.


Quick question: Since your pieces are acrylic if you are framing do you frame without glass?


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