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One of the most common questions we receive from customers during the design process is “Should I have a mat?” followed by, “How much mat will show?”

The answers depend on several factors, including the type and size of the artwork, archival and mounting requirements, current trends, and of course, customer preference. Our design team, led by Master Certified Picture Framer Valerie Becker, is experienced in crafting the perfect mat design for each custom project.

Some artwork requires matting so that it may be properly mounted for museum quality preservation within a frame (yes, we do that). Delicate artworks with holes, torn edges, or unsightly borders may look incomplete without matting. Art prints with wide paper borders may be improved with a single or double mat. Sometimes a mat is unnecessary, even being a detriment to design. This sweet needlework for example was completed with a border that served the framing composition perfectly without a mat.

According to industry expert Chris Paschke of Designs Ink, professional framers and designers typically follow proportion and ratio guidelines such as maintaining mat margins that are wider than the width of a frame, avoiding “stripes” by using wider mat margins and by varying widths of extra mats and art borders, and ensuring “breathing room” for matted artwork (2001). Paschke suggests that contemporary designs demonstrate wider mat dimensions

The first image below represents a “gallery style,” with a wide and thick white mat—plenty of breathing room for the little fox. To make more sense of this concept, consider the wide mat as a wall in a room with the fox image hung on the wall. Would you look first at the plain wall, or the fox? A little Photoshop magic shows the fox again with a thin mat. Although the image is larger, the thin mat and frame start to look “stripe-y” which can be distracting to the eye and add a subtle confusion.


One alternative to the “wider mat” guideline is when a piece of artwork is float mounted. This type of design is characterized by an artwork that sits on top of, rather than under, a mat. In these designs, it is standard practice to maintain a small mat margin as seen to the left in this pastel by a customer’s little granddaughter.

Extra mats and specialized fabric mats use color and texture to enhance the framing design. The print below by Andy Warhol is matted with bright base color that accentuates the artwork’s “Pink Lips.” The dramatic blue suede mat atop the ship draws the eye to the artwork by gently contrasting the art’s highlights.

The most important rule of matting, however, is that there are no hard and fast rules. The overall goal of framing is to enhance the artwork, and to draw the eye to the artwork or object(s) being framed. Much discretion on how that is done is left to the eye of the designer(s). As Paschke notes, “Some framers have a natural eye for identifying a design that fits, and this is often why some designs appear much more successful than others” (2001). Experience, training, and a discerning eye for aesthetics is a large part of the formula for “right” matting. (We’ve got those covered.)

We are happy and excited to compose your project with you, and we guarantee our designs. Stop in or call to schedule an appointment to work with MCPF Valerie and her team!


Paschke, C. A. (2001, June). The essence of design: Proportion. Retrieved April 30, 2017, from DIP Online website: http://www.designsinkart.com/library/D-EssenceofDesignProportion200106.htm


In 1918, an upside-down biplane was mistakenly printed on the 24 cent airmail stamp. Only 100 of the original stamps were sold, and they are valued among philatelists at around $100,000 per stamp. Normally, a print inspector or postal clerk would have caught the misprint immediately. However, the clerk who sold the original sheet of inverted jenny stamps said, “How was I to know the thing was upside down? I never saw an airplane before.”

In 2013, the USPS reprinted the famous and rare inverted jenny to the chagrin of hardcore stamp collectors. According to USPS policy, “Postal Service employees should refrain from intentionally creating philatelic rarities.” Agency watchdogs suggest that the post office violated its own code by recreating rare stamp in order to make money.

We aren’t really philatelists, but we know a good framing subject when we see one. Our inverted jenny sheet is floated and matted with TrueVue museum glass and a Superior Moulding frame.

Read more: HERE and HERE

Valerie Becker of Red Wing Framing & Fine Art Printing was appointed to the International Framing Competition Board by the Board of Directors of the Professional Picture Framers Association (PPFA) at the annual PPFA Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada in January 2017.

This is a three year appointment and the International Framing Competition Board is responsible for all framing competitions, approval and accreditation of judges and the review and updates of the framing design standards and judging criteria.

Valerie commented “I am excited to be working with creative framing experts from all over the world. This is a professional honor for me and I will be a better framer from this experience.”

Valerie Becker is a Master Certified Picture Framer as designated by the PPFA. She owns and operates Red Wing Framing & Fine Art Printing and Rochester Framing & Fine Art Printing.

The Professional Picture Framers Association (PPFA) has been the industry trade association for professional custom picture framers, art galleries, museums and framing manufacturers for 35 years. PPFA has more than 3,500 members and helps maintain industry standards, education and promotion.

In the framing world, a fillet (typically pronounced “fill-it”) is a super small frame with a reverse lip that fits inside a traditional frame or under a mat. Fillets can provide extra flair or dramatic enhancement to a frame, or incorporate an additional level of showcasing to a piece of art.

You may notice that the ornate fillet around pastel madonna adds a touch of elegance to the rustic style frame. Our 1st place chapter winner featured a blue frame fillet matching the bold blue in the needlepoint. Finally, the beautiful Belle is displayed with a bold mat rimmed in a delicate fillet, giving her design the right amount of sass to match her personality, per the owner.


Fillets exponentially grow the creative possibilities of framing design, and as we always say, the more creative options the more fun to be had!

We are proud to serve the Prairie Island Indian Community, which is located approximately 15 miles northwest of our Red Wing shop. We’ve been blessed to preserve several pieces of historical significance to the tribe.

The community proudly operates Treasure Island Resort and Casino, which is Goodhue County’s largest employer. This large gallery wrap will welcome hotel visitors. The inscription reads:

The people of Prairie Island are descendants of the Mdewakanton Band of Eastern Dakota, also known as the Mississippi or Minnesota Sioux, who were parties to the treaties with the United States from 1805 to 1863.

“A hundred thousand welcomes” is the English translation of this Gaelic salutation. This cross-stitch was laced over an archival board, matted, and framed with a perfectly patterned moulding. These projects showcase the time, talent, and creativity of needle artists, and we are experts at helping our customers achieve their finished piece. I wonder how one might express “a hundred thousand stitches”?


The next few weeks’ weather forecast looks to be a lot of thaw and freeze. This epic icicle from last season measured probably close to 6 feet. We are excited to see what this upcoming round of weather will bring. Stay tuned.


Autumn is our window artist and this latest window is quickly becoming a shop favorite.

Happy 2017.  We are always relieved when the holiday season is over.  In our line of work we don’t get to enjoy the holidays so much because we are so busy.

But being busy is a blessing.  Here is hoping you have a busy and blessed 2017.

This is a ‘not quite’ photo.  Ideally I would have captured a nice blurred taillight of a few inches.

But whatever.  Nobody is perfect and either is this photograph.


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