What is a mat?
A mat is the thick paper-like material you often see surrounding the artwork, filling in the space between the artwork and the frame.
- First, it is a decorative element that provides a visual space between the art and the frame. This can be especially helpful when you have a carved frame that might look too busy if it were placed immediately next to the art. A mat also helps to keep the finished piece from feeling crowded.
- Second, the mat creates air space between the art and glass, and keeps the glass from touching the artwork In most cases you don’t ever want glass directly against your art because it can condense moisture and damage your art. If the glass is in contact with the image, there is a risk of mold and/or adhesion between the two substances where they touch. The mat is normally positioned on top of the artwork, and the glass (glazing) is positioned on top of the mat. The thickness of the mat then determines just how far away from the artwork the glass is held, leaving a protective air space between the two.
- Third, matting can be used to make a piece of artwork fit into a pre-made frame which is too large. A mat is cut with outside measurements to match the frame size and inside measurements to match the image size, thus filling in the empty space between the artwork and the perimeter of the pre-made frame. You may want to use mats to make your finished frame bigger so that it will cover a larger wall area than the framed image would by itself.