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Picture Framing - Advanced Mat Cutting

Updated on November 22, 2014

Picture Framing: Advanced Mat Cutting - Inlay Mat

An Inlay Mat is simply where two or more pieces of mat are set together and are mounted flush in such a way as to be cut like one single mat.

The overall appearance should be like inlay wood design, flush and smooth despite it being several pieces put together.

The main function of using an inlay mat is for decorative. I personally don't use it all that often in my frameshop used though it's a really nice way to dress up a document or merely add visual interest> You might also use an inlay mat to pull some sort of decorative element from the framed object out into the matting. For the purpose of this tutorial an inlay mat is simply a way to add color in a fun and funky way which will make it stand out.

This tutorial is running under the assumption that you already understand the basics of cutting mats so I will skip the minute details of the mat cutting process. If you are unfamiliar with cutting mats or would simply like a refresher please visit my Mat Cutting: How To Cut A Basic Mat Tutorial Page.

copyright protected by copyscape
copyright protected by copyscape

All copyrights are retained by the artist,

Mona Majorowicz of Wild Faces Gallery.

The artwork or content in this lens may not be used or reproduced, either

in part or in whole, without the express written consent from the artist.

Advanced Mat Cutting - Inlay Mats

Do You Cut Your Own Mats?

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About The Checkerboard Mat - Picture Framing: Advanced Mat Cutting - Inlay Mat

Mat Blanks To Be Used For Making An Inlay Mat
Mat Blanks To Be Used For Making An Inlay Mat

Where Did I Get That Groovy Matboard.

A creative idea for making your own matboard

So in case you're wondering this mat was created specifically for a client who wanted something fun, unusual and a little wacky for his sister who could be described using those words. So using the photo supplies which was a family shot I selected a black & white color palette with the hot Barbie pink which was also drawn from the photo.

Mat board does not come in a check pattern (or at least not from any of the companies my frame shop carries) so I actually printed out a black and white checker board pattern on our fine art giclee printer and then drymounted it to a sheet of white mat board. Then I selected just a standard acid free pink matboard.

Note: I almost went with polka dots but the finished mat was only going to be showing less than an inch. The client had made his own frame and so that's what I had to work with.

First Things First

Figuring out the math. My frame was 12 x 15 and so I need to center my checkerboard within the opening. That is essentially how I came up with a 1 3/4 pink splice in the center. For any other project it really would have been a matter of personal taste.

Step 1: Splicing The Mat Pieces Together - Picture Framing: Advanced Mat Cutting - Inlay Mat

Spliced Pieces Of Matboard To Be Used In The Inlay Mat
Spliced Pieces Of Matboard To Be Used In The Inlay Mat
Example Of Mat Bevel Lineup
Example Of Mat Bevel Lineup

So now that I knew my overall dimensions I cut my checkerboard mat as well as the pink inlay splice. In order to get a really smooth joined finish with the slice pieces I cut my bevels on the pink going one direction and then cut the bevels on my checkerboard mats going the other direction so the would fit together perfectly. (Image Right shows you what a cross section view of how those bevels fit together.)

Please Note: The pink splice needs to be the same width as the checkerboard. I just took the photo before I trimmed the pink mat to size.

Step 2: Taping The Splices Together - Picture Framing: Advanced Mat Cutting - Inlay Mat

Inlay Mat From backside Taped
Inlay Mat From backside Taped

This is pretty self explanatory. Here I'm using a 1 Inch wide archival clear tape called J-Lar.

I place the splices together as tightly as I can and then apply the tap.

Note: Be sure the outside edges of your mat line up exact as well or you mat may not cut square.

Step 3: Cut Your Mat As Usual - Picture Framing: Advanced Mat Cutting - Inlay Mat

Cut Mat With Center Piece Fallout
Cut Mat With Center Piece Fallout

When handling the spliced mat be careful because it will fold at the splice lines and if this happens too often it may affect your bevel join. Other than that it's cut the mat just like any other.

Step 4: Finished Mat - Picture Framing: Advanced Mat Cutting - Inlay Mat

Finished Inlay Mat
Finished Inlay Mat

Because of the inherent mat weakness and to help tie it all together I add a second mat in the same pink as the first. This is not absolutely necessary for stability but it really does help.

Diagonal Inlay Mat Example
Diagonal Inlay Mat Example

An Example Of Possible Inlay Mat Look

Picture Framing: Advanced Mat Cutting - Inlay Mat

Since I did such a wacky mat as an example I thought i'd show you a couple of more subdued ideas for inlay mats.

Inlay mats can add class and distinction to a framing project. The are a clean contemporary way to decorate without overdoing it.

This type of inlay mat look works well with diplomas and documents. You can vary the ribbon width or add multiple lines for a more dramatic look..

Inlay Mat Example
Inlay Mat Example

Another Example of Using The Inlay Mat Cutting Technique

This sort of inlay look also works well with documents but also wedding photos or also sporting and school photos.

Mona MAjorowicz demonstrating art technique at a gallery openhouse.
Mona MAjorowicz demonstrating art technique at a gallery openhouse.

About The Author Of Picture Framing: Advanced mat Cutting - Inlay Mats

Mona Majorowicz of Wild Faces Gallery

My name is Mona Majorowicz I am a professional artist who has been making my living selling my work for some time now. I am an animal artist, (meaning I paint critters) who works primarily in Oil Pastel or Water Soluble Pencil.

I own and operate Wild Faces Gallery with my husband Mike in a small rural town in Iowa. There we sell my original artwork and prints, as well as do quality custom framing and offer Giclee printing for other artists as well as for ourselves. I have over 20 years in ate art and framing industry both as a business owner and as a working artist.

I maintain a blog called Fur In The Paint, as well as write a regular column for the equestrian magazine Apples 'N Oats about painting horses.

Animals are my passion and art is how I chose to express it.

Did You Find This Mat Cutting Tutorial Useful? - The Pictrue Framing : Advanced Mat Cutting Guestbook

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    • Ahdilarum profile image


      5 years ago

      I understood the basics about this art

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Love your lens! I've learned a lot!

    • Philippians468 profile image


      7 years ago

      thank you for sharing this! i love all things DIY! cheers

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I think I can echo artyfax...I don't think I am ready for this...I'll have to back to the basics and work up. But I am thrilled that this is here for a future reference. Thanks. In the mean time, back to the basics for me.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 

      7 years ago from UK

      Incredible. I can imagine the accuracy that you would need to avoid this looking awful. I don't think I am quite ready for this advanced mat cutting technique yet, I struggle with my simple set-up at home. Great lens

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      It's so useful with your wonderful tutorial of mat cutting. I've never know about it before. You give me my new artistic knowledge again. Always love all lenses of yours. 5 stars for you. Have wonderful times.. dearest Mona :)

      PS: Your title of squidcast such as "New Lens ... And No it's Not about cross stitches." makes me get a big smile. Much love to you .. dear lady :)


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