Frame Envy Team
Sometimes, a plain mat is absolute perfection for your art. Crisp and elegant, this mat makes the piece shine brighter. However, there are times when a plain mat falls flat. You’re not sure what’s wrong, but it needs something else.
We have two words for you: French Matting.
Not sure what that is? Don’t worry. You’ve probably seen it before but weren’t sure what it was called. French matting has been around for hundreds of years, and it is still used today. This is a decorative matting embellishment that consists of one or more hand drawn inked lines and is often paired with a watercolor wash or gilded tape. This technique comes in and out of fashion, but we are major fans of a simple French line to jazz up a mat.
French matting can enhance a mat by drawing your eye to the art or highlighting details within the piece. You don’t need to have multiple lines or watercolor wash (unless that’s what you really want). Sometimes, a single line is all you need.
Your French line can be black, gold, or almost any other color that you would like to use. Most people choose black or gold, but we’ve seen people choose silver, blue, brown, and beyond. When choosing your color, look at the colors in the art as well as the color of your frame. A gold line can complement a gold frame to give the overall design a polished look. However, you can choose a particular color that you want to showcase in the piece.
If one line doesn’t seem like it’s enough, you can choose to add more. These lines can consist of different colors (black and gold) and vary in width and spacing. You could choose to have a thick gold line close to the mat opening with an outside thin black line. You could have three lines where two lines are closer together and the third is spaced further away from the others. Choose a more traditional look or create something different for your personal style.
One of our favorite ways to use French lines is to tie multiple photos in the same frame together. A double opening mat can transform into an elegant work of art with a French line. This connects the photos together and turns the art into one joined piece instead of two.
You can also use French lines to highlight a single image in a multi-opening mat. If you want to incorporate multiple images into one frame design, you can use a French line to acknowledge an important person or photograph. The line will draw the viewer’s eye to that particular image. It is a small detail that takes the overall design from beautiful to unique.
French lines look fantastic on documents including diplomas, marriage certificates, military papers, business certificates, and more. You can also use them on photographs, watercolors, silhouettes, textiles, objects, and other types of art. Take an antique piece and apply traditional french matting techniques, or create something modern with a single French line. Whatever you choose, have fun with it.
Frames shown are The Versatile and The Intellectual.