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Ten Aha! Uses For Mat Board

Got extra mats or scraps of mats lying around? What serious photographer doesn’t, right? If you’re looking for a more creative use than shoring up a lame table leg, or your environmental conscience won’t let you ditch the ones you'll never use (yes, you did buy that color), read on. Here’s ten unconventional ways to use mats whether you need to clean the closet or are looking for a good excuse to stock your supply shelf.

  1. Promote your work. Offer a free mat insert or give away with the purchase of your art. Or, if you’re not already selling your work matted and/or framed you could offer a limited-time promotion that includes the mat board in the price.
  2. Sponsor an event. Give a lecture or presentation at an arts and crafts store or fine arts school on matting techniques. Have everyone participate by matting their own photo and provide the mat board as part of the fee for class.
  3. Donate. Give unused or recyclable mats to a local elementary school. You might even consider sponsoring an art or photography contest. Consider stamping your URL or contact info on the back of the mats—impressed parents might look you up.
  4. Make matting part of your art. Use three or more mats together in varied colors, widths, and textures to create an interesting effect when framing your photos or other art.
  5. Shadow boxes. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder right? Then why not let your extra matboard inspire you to display some of your favorite collectibles in new ways.
  6. Next year’s Christmas cards. Instead of going with the standard Hallmark photo cards, create your own using a 5x7 mat, the family photo, a snap shot of Fido, or something stellar from your portfolio. Decorate the mat with some seasonal imagery and greetings.
  7. Gift Tags. Use a hole punch, a gel pen, and some bright colored raffia and create some gift tags with an arty, hand-made touch.
  8. Cool kids project. Give the kids some mats, colored pencils, glue, and miscellaneous cool things (fabric, buttons, ribbon, dried flowers, sticks, feathers, pinecones) to affix to the mats to create their own frames for their favorite photos or drawings.
  9. Miscellaneous projects. Use mat scraps for various arts and crafts projects. Make your own paper sculpture, paper mache, piñata or homemade photo boxes.
  10. Create your own wedding invitations. Include a matted engagement photo and mount your invitation to the backside for a memorial touch. Or, consider framing just the invitation with a mat for an elegant flair. Also, don’t forget to stock up on mats for all those photos you’ll be giving away after the event.

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