Saturday, January 24, 2015

Mat Cutting: A really self-centered half-craft

Last week a fancy red tube emblazoned with gold lettering arrived in my mailbox. In it was my doctoral diploma, a sheet of paper representing many years (4 by the most conservative estimates, or about 24 years if you want to play the "terminal degree" card) of education and hard work.
When I finished college back in 2007 (gulp) my mom took me down to the frame shop to buy a custom frame and custom mat for my diploma. Then, it sat in my high school bedroom for 7 years largely ignored. But now, with my B.S., my M.A., and my Ph.D. in hand I drove into Janesville in search of frames to hang them all up in my office like the gloater that I am.

The custom frame counter offered to frame the set for me for about $270 (this was including a 70% discount-- sit with that for a moment). Obviously not interested in going that route, I made my way over to the off-the-shelf frame section and picked out some budget frames that would work just fine. I contemplated for quite some time just how large a frame it is socially acceptable to use for a diploma. The lady doing the custom framing suggested a 16x20 frame for any 11x14 document. If you have a tape nearby, eyeball how large 16x20 is. It's huge. Too big, I decided. So, in the "digital sizes" section I found a 14x18 frame that matched the smaller ones I'd picked out for my standard 8.5x11 diplomas.

I already had the mat for my bachelor's that my mom had picked out with me, but I wandered back to the frame counter to find out what it would cost to get a couple of mats cut. For 2 mats they wanted almost $90. What? It's mat board? You cut it. What? I give up Michael's.

So, after much contemplation I decided to take matters into my own hands. And by matters, I mean mats. I sifted out a 50% coupon, bought a $15 mat cutter, a $9 piece of mat board, and a $5 standard diploma mat. Then, I went home to do it myself.

I started with some cheap leftover white mat I had taken out of one of the frames I'd just bought, just for practice. Luckily, I found that my rotary mat and board (for quilting) worked perfectly for measuring and cutting.

First, going mostly on intuition, I cut an 8.5" x 11" mat to fit my slightly too large M.A. diploma (thanks for that, CGU). Then, I cut a larger (14x18) piece out of my charcoal colored piece of mat board and somehow managed to get the inside hole to the right size for my diploma. 
Once I had done that, I was on a roll. I stopped in at the goodwill and picked up an ugly, beat up white frame with a white mat and brought it home. I gave it quick coat of orange spray paint, cut the mat to size, and framed this darling dishtowel my sister in law gave me for Christmas (don't judge me, I need art).
I'm certainly no pro, and true, the mats didn't turn out perfect so maybe I'll replace them if I ever get any better at this. But for now, I'm pretty pleased to walk into my office and see this every day. 

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