Memories... Like Mom Made!

Memories... Like Mom Made!
Out of dark moments, flowers grow.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Lorelei's Nursery Makeover: Wall Art - Simple Step to Making a Photo Mat to Match any Decor

Over the next couple of weeks I am going to be posting tutorials that make up Lorelei's very first room of her own. This is such a big deal that, even though it is a very tiny room, I am packing it full of all of my best and girliest ideas. I am not ready to unveil the whole room yet, but I will give you sneak previews of different projects that I am featuring in her room. Feel free to draw inspiration for your own baby girl's nursery, or adapt a project to fit any room in your house.

This project for example, is a doozy. I mean seriously... It took me all of about.... an hour.... to complete.

And it looks just amazing!

But the best part is: it cost under $5 to make.

I am making a picture frame wall collage on one of the large blank walls in Lorelei's room. I decided I wanted most of the frames blank, a few will be bow holders, and I wanted a few pops of interest to stand out and catch your eye.

That is where this project comes in.

Do you notice that the photo mat here is not the standard ugly white that comes in every cheapo walmart frame?


It is HOT PINK. And no, I didn't spend hours (minutes? days? years? I am awful with an exacto knife) cutting a precise and perfect photo mat from card stock, and I certainly didn't spend the $5 plus shipping to special order a costly colored one off of an online craft store (which, I might add, doesn't even carry pink!).

I used a few shots of spray paint I already had on hand.

Voila! Perfectly colored photo mat ready for my adorable prints of scrapbooking paper.

I cut them to size, popped them behind the mat, slid the mat into my $3 Wal-mart frame I spray painted black and then I marveled at my work.

I left the glass out because this is for a baby's nursery. I want her room to be completely child friendly and should one of the frames fall off the wall, I didn't want to risk broken glass. Plus glass is annoying to clean, and as long as I dust at least once every now and again, I won't have to worry about cleaning glass and leaving streaks and getting frustrated.

So there you have it. Now you have my super simple secret to making your own colored photo mat in under five minutes.

But in case you need further instructions, here is a picture tutorial.

First, I started with a cheap, $3 Wal-Mart picture frame. Any cheap frame will do. This is actually NOT the one I used, but I forgot to take a picture before I painted it, but I remembered to take a picture of this identical, but different sized frame before I painted it... So this is the picture you get. The difference here, however, is that not only is this frame 5x7, but it doesn't come with a photo mat, which is the most important part of the project. The photo mat in the frame I purchased had four photo slots. It was 8"x14" which made it perfect for the spot I was going to use it. It was a generic gold two tone color that just wasn't going to work in Lorelei's room, so I spray painted the frame black.

To do the painting, I simply removed the glass and photo mat, left the paper picture in there to protect the back of the frame (which was attached on one side, making it impossible to remove for spraying. I used Krylon Black spray paint and took it outside where I sprayed the whole thing with even sweeping strokes. I let it dry and moved on to the next step.

I took the photo mat and sprayed it with Krylon Mambo Pink spray paint. I was very careful as to not over saturate the mat. It is a paper product, so if it got too wet with paint it would warp and fall apart and I didn't want that. I let it dry after I was done painting it, but I was careful to not leave it on a surface where it would get wet, get stuck to anything that would damage it (like cardboard or paper), or have any unidentified flying objects float into the paint). Waiting for the mat to dry is really what took the longest out of the whole project. 

While the mat was drying, I cut out pieces of patterned scrapbooking paper at dimensions just a little larger than the photo holes in the frame. I based my rectangles off of the dimensions named on the frame (2.5x3) and added about 1/4-1/2" on each side. Make sure you pay extra close attention to the long edges, as those will be over lapping. The short edges don't matter as much. I was also careful to line my papers up straight before cutting and to make sure they were oriented in the correct direction. I don't actually have a picture of this cutting step because, quite frankly, I figured you could handle this part. Since your frame will likely be a different size/shape from mine anyway, just follow the dimension listed for your photo mat and add a little bit extra all the way around. I do suggest using a cutting mat and ruler to get perfectly straight and square edged rectangles.

After my photo mat was dry and my rectangles were cut out, I flipped the photo mat over and laid it out on top of a plastic bag. Using Elmer's Craft Bond repositionable adhesive spray (which I have used in at least a half dozen projects lately!) I sprayed the back of the mat all over. I paid special attention to the thin parts separating the middle photos, but I covered the entire thing pretty efficiently.

Then I arranged my rectangles in a way that I thought would look good in the frame (which is actually not at all what is pictured below... I got brave at the last minute!) and carefully laid each one upside down over the photo openings. If you cut your paper straight to begin with, getting the rectangle perfectly straight will be a cinch. If you eyeballed it and cut it without a ruler, you may have to spend a little more time getting each rectangle super straight.

Gently press and smooth each one of your rectangles on to your photo mat. The adhesive will help you hold them in place so you can turn it over (being sure not to lay it down on your carpet or work surface) and make sure you like how it looks. Once you are sure it looks how you want it to look, use some clear tape in a couple spots to make sure nothing moves.

 Open up your frame and, being careful not to spray the front of the frame, give the inside of the frame backing a good spray. This will help hold the photo mat in, further stabilize the scrapbook paper, and keep everything straight and perfect.

Take your finished photo mat, slide it into your frame, press it firmly onto the frame backing, and then close the frame. If you want to include your glass, make sure it is nice and clean and put it in your frame after pressing the photo mat onto the sticky back ground. Close the frame up, put on a wall or a shelf, and admire.

This project really is so simple and can be done with anything. Wedding photos, baby announcements, pieces of a love letter. Anything! And now, thanks to something you probably already have on hand (spray paint), you aren't locked in to boring white or neutral photo mat colors. So spray away, and enjoy your beautiful art work!


  1. AHHHH! I love all this stuff you do!!! It is so very cool!

    1. By the way, this is Lauren! I've never been on a blog before so I wasn't sure how my name would show up because I've never used openID before either! Learn something everyday :P