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    multi-opening mat

    Multi-Opening Mats for the Modern Home

    Frame Envy Team

    Matting serves more than one purpose in custom framing. It provides a safe place to secure your art in a frame and creates air space between the glass and your piece. Unless a piece is floating on the mat, each mat has a window opening for the featured art or photograph. Multi-opening mats have more than one window in each frame.

    Multi-opening mats have a bad reputation. Some people smile politely and say, “No, thank you. Not for me.” Others are horrified by the suggestion, reminded of funky frames from the 1970’s or 80’s that their mother or grandmother still proudly put on display. We’re here to say that multi-opening mats can be both modern and beautiful.

    You can use this type of mat to:

    1. Tell a story
    2. Save on wall space
    3. Keep the cost down in framing

    This is exactly how multi-opening mats came to be. Department stores mass produced them as a new home design trend. Instead of a mat, they used cardstock and created cutouts for photos. For people on a budget, this was a fun way to decorate without creating something custom. For professional frame shops, multi-opening mats used to be cut by hand and could be cost prohibitive for the average person. Department stores could use their buying power and machines to create the same effect for less money.

    However, many of the mats ended up looking cheap and turned a shade of yellow or orange over time. People had to make their photos work by cutting them. It was hard to resize images and print them to specifically fit an opening, especially if that opening was a shape other than an oval or rectangle. Today, clients bring in the photos that were in these frames and say, “What were they thinking?” 

    Luckily, we have the privilege of time, experience, and technology to take the multi-opening mat concept and adapt it for the modern home.

    How to Use Multi-Opening Mats

    Let’s start with space. How much space do you have allocated for your art? If you’re limited on space, you can use a mat with multiple windows to showcase numerous pieces. One of our clients found several recipes in their home from a previous owner. They wanted to feature the recipes on a thin wall in their home. We created a multi-opening design that showed both sides of the recipe. Each page went in numerical order, and we double matted each window using the same mat. On the back, we used a second mat and a piece of conservation acrylic so our client could still read the other side. It’s a cool frame, and it works in a small space.

    multi-opening mats

    In terms of cost, a multi-opening mat can be more affordable than purchasing multiple frames. We say “can” because custom framing is always subject to the materials and methods used. Generally speaking, displaying multiple images, even as few as two or three photos, in one frame can reduce your custom framing cost significantly.

    It’s also a great way to tell a story. Clients will bring in photos of their mother with the goal of creating a collage that conveys her love and personality. We’ll help them narrow down the photos, documents, and objects they want to feature and create a display that gets to the heart of the story. We aim to design with a purpose. For example, more important photos are larger and everything is balanced. Sometimes clients bring in documents that they want in one frame, such as our client who wanted to take their favorite childhood poems to create a piece of nursery art. It’s sweet, sentimental, and personal.

    multi-opening mat

    Another client wanted to take the multi-opening concept up a notch to create a family tree. Each photo was individually matted with different textures and colors and mounted to a tree background. The photos are balanced to feature wedding photos and portraits on both sides. The overall frame tells the story of a family, from the great-great-grandparents up to great-great-grandchildren. It’s a family heirloom and a project we’re very proud to have created.

    Multi-opening mats aren’t for every project or person, but they are often an interesting and creative custom framing solution. If you’re interested in learning more, contact us.