So I bought some really inexpensive black and white photos at Big Lots a while back because I thought I could hang them in the guest bedroom. Well, I painted the guest bedroom earlier this summer and I'm now working on finding stuff to hang on the walls, so I dug these out of storage and wondered why the heck I bought them. They each had cheesy inspirational sayings on the bottom of them. So I tried to figure out how I could cover up the words without breaking the bank, since all 4 photos and frames cost about $15 bucks. It simply didn't make sense to pay money to get custom mattes....so I brainstormed and decided I should try out fun foam. The kind you buy at the craft store has a label that says acid free, so they should be ok, at least in the short term as a matte, it's already pretty thick and easy to cut, and the biggest factor--it's super cheap, way cheaper than matte board (and it doesn't require any special tools to cut).
So here's what one of the photos looked like before hand. The back side was covered with the thinnest craft paper I've ever encountered, it ripped before I was even trying to take it off. I pulled the staples out of the backs of all of the frames (they held cardboard over the corners and the hook in the back). Then I ripped the cheap craft paper off.
The first one I did had this unusual cardboard glued to the print, the cardboard was held into place with these long staples (one is in the top left corner of the frame after I pulled it out). I used a small flathead screwdriver to gently pry those long staples out and set them aside (hoping to use them to put the whole thing back together later).
The first one I was working on was the water lilies "Dream" print. It was glued to that lovely cardboard above.
I placed the print over the top of my fun foam and laid a straight edge along the sides that weren't already lined up with the edge of the foam and used a cheap rotary cutter to cut a square the same size as my print.
After I had my square cut out, I measured the edge of the print and determined a simple one inch matte would work to cover up the word and leave the artistic edge of the print (maybe I should have covered that up too, but it seemed like a good idea at the time).
So I used my ruler to measure one inch and used an exacto craft knife to cut an inch in each corner. Once each of the corners had a marked cut, I used the straight edge and the rotary cutter again to cut in between the corners.
Then I went over the cut lines with the craft knife and popped the square out. Some of the edges were a little jagged and were cleaned up with a scissors and the craft knife before I was satisfied. It's hard to get it cut perfectly, but with just a few seconds of cleaning the edges up, it's definitely passable.
Then I put the frames back together. I put the matte in and turned it and adjusted it so it fit just right, then I used a pliers to push the long staples back into the frame. If you were working with wooden frames, it might be easier just to grab the staple gun, but with these plastic frames, I didn't want to take any chances. I only needed to replace half of the staples to get the matte to sit securely in the frame.
After I was done with all four frames and mattes, I glued a piece of craft paper on the back with a hot glue gun. It was my first time gluing a backing on a frame, next time I think I'll trace the paper around the frame instead of measuring and cutting, and I might iron the paper out or put it between some books over night (it came off the roll a bit crinkly and difficult to deal with, but no one will see the backs of the frames anyhow.
After all the staple pulling and cutting, I ended up with 4 coordinating matted pieces of art--all for the cost of 4 sheets of craft fun foam......and I have fun foam leftover (I used one of the center squares to make last week's Death Star Stamp) for more projects. Pretty good for just a couple bucks!