About Wall Collages
When I moved into my current apartment, I wanted to make the space more homey by hanging a bunch of frames. There was one particular wall that was pretty bare, so I wanted to dress it up. I've always loved gallery wall collages, so I thought I would make my own. I also wanted the matboards inside the frames to be varying weights for a bit more aesthetics.
How I Made the Gallery Wall
I first started by browsing Pinterest for gallery wall layouts. It inspired a few ideas, but in the end I decided to make my own layout. Then I measured the space and laid out blank rectangles in Illustrator so I could get the layout right. The light switch and thermostat take up some of the space, so I had to plan around those. I made sure that the amount of small frames and large frames were somewhat equal. I also wanted to leave some negative space on the top and bottom of the frames. Once I had the layout the way I wanted in Illustrator, I checked at Michaels for minimalistic black frames. I chose 8 frames that were about the sizes that I had measured in Illustrator.
The frames only came with the black frame and glass, but not the matboard inside. I needed to buy some matboards from Dick Blick's art store. In order to avoid spending more than necessary, I compared the matboard sizes that Blick's carried with the smallest amount that I needed to put in all of the frames. This took quite a bit of measuring and rearranging in Illustrator before I bought the matboards. There's a huge variety of matboards at Blick's as far as thickness and color, and I chose a medium weight pure white color. I made sure that both pieces that I bought were the exact same shade of white, otherwise it would have looked very off if a few frames had slightly different colors.
Once I had the matboards, I measured and marked up the insides where I would need to cut. I made sure to mark only with pencil, and only on the backs. One trick I learned back in college when cutting your own mats is to make a huge 'X' in the area where you're going to cut. It's easy to mistake one box for another when making a ton of cuts.
I don't have a professional cutting machine, and it's not necessary if you know how to use your tools. All I used was a long metal ruler, and a slanted hand-held mat cutter. When cutting each mat, you want to use a fresh blade in the cutter. It's not worth risking all of your effort measuring and get a bad cut because of a dull blade. Another tip I learned in college was when cutting, only use one strong swipe; trying to cut over the same line will usually result in cuts veering wrong directions.
When using the hand-held cutter, make sure the frame side matches the angle of the blade. I messed up once on this because I laid the frame backwards, so the angle was upside down. I also didn't extend the cuts the whole way to the corners. I always leave a tiny bit left, and then just go in with a single blade and cut them by hand. This ensures a very precise corner.
Once all of the matboards were cut, it was simply time to add the pictures! I ordered all of my pictures in black and white from Walmart. When ordering, I made sure to leave room on the sides to overlap the mat, so the picture wouldn't fall out.
After the pictures are placed under the mats, I hung them on the wall with cheap picture hangers that came with escutcheon pins to nail into the wall at an angle. I was pretty please with the result!