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That Time I Thought I Could Cut a Photo Mat by Myself

Let’s talk about art, friends.

This is the art that hangs above Mila’s crib in her nursery.
I’d like to temporary stop and brag about how I cut the photo mat on the left all by myself, but it’s actually kind of embarrassing.

I got the “Love” print by Katie Daisy

…but then realized that I didn’t have a frame for it. So I scavenged in the garage and came up with this frame I bought at a yard sale for all of a dollar.

And I bought a piece of glass from Lowes for about $8. They’ll cut it to size for you right in the store for free. Then, if you’re pregnant and you get the really nice older gentleman to cut it for you, he’ll even walk the glass out to your car for you, amidst your protests that thank you SO much, but you really don’t mind carrying it yourself.

The frame was larger than the print, so I did a little more scavenging and found some uncut white photo mats I’d bought from Michaels a while back. I thought – “How hard can it be to cut my own photo mat?”


I don’t know when I’ll learn that thinking “How hard can it be?” before attempting a project is practically a guarantee that it’ll fail.

Remember when I said that I should pay someone to follow me around and kick me in the face every time I think “How hard can that be?” — I think it might be time to open that position. But judging by this post, Karah might be the perfect candidate.

Anyway, I should have a foot-shaped indention on my face after trying to cut a photo mat on my own. It just seems crazy to pay $10* for a large pre-cut mat when I could buy the mat and cut it on my own, right?**

*I actually have no idea how much a pre-cut mat costs.
**Which makes this project seem increasingly ridiculous the more I type.
***See why I need that person to follow me around?

Have I mentioned that I don’t own a mat cutter?

But I had a razor blade. So I cut the mat to the size of the glass…

Then started measuring for the opening while Andy watched, amused, from the sofa. I’ll spare you all the gory details, but this is how it went down.

Me, to Andy: Wow, this is hard. I measured the opening and drew it out but it doesn’t look right.
Andy: Do you want me to help you?
Me: What? Nooo… you don’t have to… you’re busy… so… I’ll just… (Long pause.)
Andy: I can help you.
Me: (A little too eagerly) UmWellOkaySure!
Andy: (Does it all himself while I watch and say nice things about his muscles.)

His efforts may have included some carpentry tools.
DIY mat cutting
How to cut a photo mat

But in the end, it was kinda-mostly-squarish, which was not at all the results I would’ve gotten on my own. We cut up a cardboard box for the back of the frame.

And because this would be hanging over the crib, we wanted to be extra careful there was no chance that giant shards of glass would fall out of the frame and onto our sleeping spawn. So Andy backed the whole frame with a piece of hardboard that he had in the garage. (At this point, it sounds like our garage is just a giant mess of random pieces of things… Yes. Yes, it is.)

And to secure the entire frame to the wall, we used these hooks which we screwed into wall anchors and into studs to make sure it was extra sturdy and would not fall.

We don’t live in an earthquake-prone area or anything, so we both feel very confident this is a safe setup for a sweet sleepin’ beauty.

But I wanted some more art to go along with that frame. I found another small frame from our mess-of-random-things garage. This little faux bamboo frame looked just right. It was about a buck or two at a yard sale.

And I got to photoshoppin’. My favorite bible verse to celebrate the birth of a new person is this one, from Psalm 139:14 – “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

I came up with this simple little get-up and printed it at walmart…
nursery art fearfully wonderfully made
…then just threw it in the frame and called it a day. So super easy.

Finally, I had this wreath that my sweet, crafty friend Emily made for my baby shower a while back:
tulle baby shower wreath
Isn’t it sweet?! The whole wreath was too big for my little mini-gallery, but that little “M” was just perfect. Emily got the cardboard “M” from Joann – with a 40% off coupon! – then wrapped it with tulle, securing it as she went with hot glue. It was perfect!
tulle wrapped letter art for nursery
Thanks, Em!

And that completed the little mini-gallery-wall above Mila’s crib.

Now’s the part where you guys tell me that cutting a picture mat with a razor is really a very smart idea, and there’s an easy trick that makes the whole job super snappy and fast. Right? Have you ever tried to do this?

Let's connect


  1. so cute! i think i could live happily in that room.

  2. hahaha I’d volunteer for that “How hard can this be?” opening you mentioned except someone would have to follow ME around kicking ME in the face and before you know it, we’d have this train of face-kickers trailing around Michael’s and someone would probably call the police.

    Your little gallery wall is adorable!

    • HAHAHA. I’d love to see the headlines in the paper about the “train of face-kickers” apprehended at Michaels.

  3. The wall and your art came out great, Kelly!
    I used to own a frame shop and have a mat cutter, and it kills me that I can’t cut my own mats anymore…errrrrr. I order custom mats on amazon for cheap $. There is a little tool you can buy at Michael’s that bevels the cuts for you but it doesn’t work very well.
    If you ever cut a mat again, the best way to do it is to use a T-square and razor. Draw your opening on the back of the mat. Put the top of the T on the outside edge of your matboard and cut on the lines, intersecting the corners a bit so you can break out the opening without tearing the mat. The T-square ensures that your corners are 90 degrees and your opening will be perfect (if your matboard has perfect 90 degree corners to begin with that is!) I’ve got to write a post about this one of these days. At any rate your picture looks great and very professional!!

    • See? I knew there just HAD to be a better way. Lisa to the rescue! 🙂 I never thought to order from amazon, I’m totally doing that next time. Thanks for the tips!

  4. Hahahaaaa…. You and Andy remind me so much of me and D. I have all the brilliant ideas – poor D has to execute them.

    Turned out beautifully. And now I have Mercy Me in my head!

  5. You are too funny! I love that mat. It definitely sounds like a joint effort to me 🙂

  6. I love that gallery wall. So sweet!

  7. Ha ha ha! I think I should adopt your policy of kick me in the face if I think ‘how hard can that be’! Your gallery wall looks fabulous! Since my last disastrous attempt at a gallery wall, I steer clear of any mat cutting or DIY in general.

  8. So cute! I love it!

    And I have a face kicker, my husband, he always shoots down my ideas so it feels like I got kicked in the face. I don’t always listen though and he’s good at rubbing it in my face when things dont work out. But he’s good at saying “I was wrong” when I am successful 😉 You can borrow him if you want some discouragement, just make sure you send him back 😉

  9. Oh, yeah, I had that bright idea too. Mostly because Michael’s failed me. They didn’t have the mat sizes I wanted. So I cut my own. It was hard. The first two came out fine. The third one? Wonky all the way … So I just ignore it. Or look at the picture at an angle.

    Oh, and I cut them on my dining room table. With a razor blade. I had a piece of cardboard underneath but guess what? Yep. That razor blade cuts right through the cardboard too!



  10. I have been practicing my kicks, that’s all I have to say. 😉

    Oh, and mat cutters are the trick to mat cutting…and handy, helpful husbands, of course.

    I love that M, didn’t realize it was covered in tulle…what a cute gift idea. The perfect little wall for the perfect little baby.

  11. Sounds like something I would do, good thing we have men with tools and skillz. Yes skillz. 😉 Love that little gallery wall, it’s perfect. How is Mila doing?

    • Thanks! She is just so wonderful. I was SO nervous about having Weston and a baby, but she’s been just so much easier than I could’ve imagined. The doctor gave me the go-ahead to let her sleep as long as she wants at night, and last night she slept 6 hours. Craziness! But my MIL is still in town, we’ll see how I feel when I have two kids all by myself. 🙂

  12. haha yes, I have done this. And the mattes are in my guest room, hanging above the bed. If you don’t stare at it it really looks just fine (at least that’s what I tell myself). Love your art, you did a great job. And that tulle wrapped letter is adorable!

  13. Wow that love print matches those curtains wonderfully!
    It’s always nice to get a little extra help…even if you can carry your own piece of glass to the car haha

  14. Never tried mat cutting, but I’m pretty sure I would fail all the way around. Plus, when i’m pregnant I pretty much don’t do anything at all other than eat and lay on the couch, so the fact that you did this is pretty impressive in my book:)


  15. i thank my lucky stars every time i go to do a project that i have such a handy husband…i would definitely have called in reinforcements for this too! i can’t say that i have ever tried, but yours came out wonderfully!

  16. Andy is the perfect hubs – dutifully executing your ideas!

    That is the cutest tulle letter wreath ever!

    And if I paid someone to kick me in the face, I’d never be able to leave the house!

  17. Bwahahaha. Oh how you make me laugh. I can so relate to this. I learned how to cut mats, with a mat cutter, in photography class a few years ago. It wasn’t easy, even with the cutter. Foot imprint aside, I admire your bravery and appreciate that you let us laugh at, er, WITH you.

  18. Maybe I’ll get a “kick me in the face” monkey. Genius.

    That is one of the most expertly made mats I have ever seen. I am beyond impressed. I would have totally known that you made it yourself. 😉

  19. Love the love!! It’s so pretty and you’ve done a lovely job!

  20. I won’t smart off about mat cutting, but how come I don’t see a rocker in there for when I come for my baby holding shift?


  21. Not that this is going to help you now, but I took a photo class a million years ago and the instructor had us mount our photos on top of uncut mat paper (no hole to cut out). It didn’t have the same definition as a cut mat has, but it still looked pretty good once framed.

  22. How sweet! I could just crawl right into that crib and dream of colorful swirling pinwheels ; )

  23. This so reminds me of something I would do! Thanks for the laugh! Love your gallery wall and your nursery colours.

    Check out my blog sometime! I started it recently and would love some expert opinions! 🙂


  24. This so reminds me of something I would do! Thanks for the laugh! I love your gallery wall and the colours in your nursery.

    Thanks for the inspiration! Come check out my blog sometime! I started it recently and would love some expert opinion 🙂


  25. You’re cracking me up with the kicking of the face idea. I might need that also! I tend to take on things with the best of intentions, then have a melt down if it doesn’t work out and it’s quite possible that Joshy Bobby has to fix it.

    The gallery wall is perfect.

    Xx. Patience

  26. I know you posted this more than a year ago, but I love your gallery wall. I really love that M and it inspired me to make one for my daughter’s nursery. How did you hang it up?

    • Thank you! I think we just hung it on a nail. It’s cardboard/paper mache, so it’s really, really light. We might have even taped it – can’t remember. 🙂

  27. I know this post is old, but I just recently found your blog and I love it! My favorite trick for framed art that doesn’t cost much is to take your piece of art and your frame to Hobby Lobby and have them cut the mat for you – they have a huge selection of colors and you can use the 40% off coupons on the purchase – turns out pretty darn cheap and your art looks like you had it professionally framed.

  28. Love the gallery wall! I did have a question that I can’t seem to find on Google (but it did lead me to this post!) that you may be able to answer: I have a tulle wrapped letter and I can’t figure out how to hang it up. I live in an apartment, so I’d like to avoid putting a hole in the wall, but it is allowed. I’m definitely not opposed to trying Command products, but in a previous apartment, they damaged the walls when I removed them, so I’m a little wary of them! Thanks for any tips!

  29. Do you mind telling me what size frames both of those are? Trying to recreate for my daughters nursery 🙂


  1. […] on Etsy*. I seriously love every single thing in her shop. The frames were $1 yard sale finds. Here are the rest of the details on the art.(If you’re wondering what the “M” stands for, as of writing this post, it stands […]

  2. […] of posters to cut into makeshift photo mats: It did not go well.Seriously. You’d think I would’ve learned my lesson… unless you’ve been reading here for a while, in which case you probably know better […]

  3. […] we brightened everything up a LOT. I made the curtains (here), added a pinwheel wall and the art above the crib, made the crib skirt and painted. Here are all the details on her nursery, which we changed over […]

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