Monday, January 24, 2011

Updating a Photo Mat with Paint

With all the wood paneling, I've been on a quest to make the living room brighter.  In high school, I made a reproduction of an old photograph of my mother, grandmother, and grandfather, which I hand colored and matted with a black photo mat.  I really love the photo, but the black mat made the room feel even darker:

So, inspired by a trick I'd seen in a Martha Stewart book, I decided to update the mat with acrylic paint to lighten up the corner of the room where it hangs, keeping a border of black around the inside of the mat to better frame the photo.


Photo mat
Painter's or Scotch Tape
Acrylic Paint
Paper towels

1.  Decide how much of the original mat you would like to show.  Using your pencil and ruler, mark this distance at a couple of points on all sides of the frame - this will be your guide for when you put your tape down.

2.  Using the straight edge of your tape to mark off the part of the mat you don't want painted.  I used a pair of scissors and added more tape for the corner pieces.

3.  Mix your desired paint color (I mixed cream, which was a lot of white with one drop ochre yellow and one drop brown).  Put your mat under newspaper and apply the paint in a thin, even layer.  If you are going from a dark color to a light color, you will probably need to apply two to three coats; allow each coat to dry completely before adding the next coat.  (Make sure you rinse your brush thoroughly and keep it immersed in water between layers - acrylic paint dries quickly and your brush will be ruined if you allow it to dry on the brush.)

4.  When you have applied as many coats as you need and the paint is completely dry, carefully remove the tape.  If some of the paper mat starts to come up, try pulling the tape from a different direction.

5.  Put your photo back in the mat, put the mat back in the frame, and put the frame back on the wall - voila! Transformation completed!

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