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The following design has been one of my most popular for the last couple of years. I've used it with the artists Orlando A/B, Royo, Pradzynski and several others.

I call it a tear drop overlay cut with round corners. The mat is a foamcore base covered in linen.


1. To start, measure your image allow for 4 inches sides and top and 5 inches on bottom. Cut 4 pieces on FoamX Brand foamcore to the size needed (be very accurate).


2. Before you cut the bottom mat make a pencil line on the backside from the outside edge in about 8 inches. That line will be used later to align the cutout back into place. Cut the bottom mat to 4 inches on the sides and top, 5 inches on the bottom. Mark the overlay mat with the following lines on the backside. Bottom. 5, 4, 3, 2 inches. Top & sides 4, 3, 2 . Now using a compass, top left corner place the pin side of the compass on where the 4 inch lines cross, place ( line up ) the pencil side where it perfectly meets the 3 inch line. If it meets it on one side but not the other adjust the pin side to allow you to meet the 3 inch line on both sides. Now make your arc. Leaving the pin side in place open up the compass until you reach the 2 inch line, again adjust the pin side if need to be able to make an arc that perfectly intersects the 2 inch line in both sides. Now repeat the process for the other top right corner. The bottom corners the pin side is placed where the 4 inch line crosses the 5 inch line on the bottom. You will be making a 1 inch radius arc from the 4X5 point to the 3X4 point and then a 2 inch radius arc from the 4x5 point to the 2x3 point. Again repeat for the other bottom corner. see Figure 1

Figure 1


3. The tear drop cut is marked out in the following way. On the back side in the center draw two lines 8 inches apart. Now make a second line back another inch. You should now have lines 8 inches apart on the inside and lines 10 inches apart on the outside. Now take the compass and put the pin side where the 10 inch line meets the 3 inch line and place the pencil end on the 4 inch line and make a circle. Now place the pin where the 10 inch line meets the 2 inch line and the pencil end meets the 3 inch line and make an arc. See fig. 1a

Figure 1a


4. Now the fun part. Place one of the blank sheets of foamcore under the piece to be cut. Using a Dexter hand cutter adjust the blade to a 45 degree angle and so the tip of the blade will extend 1/8 of an inch through the foamcore when cutting. Start cutting at the bottom in the center on the backside ( just make sure you have the bevel going in the direction you want. ) use a smooth accurate cut on the first curve. Once you are cutting straight use a straightedge until the next corner, continue without removing the knife until you are finished with that side of the overlay. Now repeat for the other side of the overlay. Be accurate in cutting ( it's really not that hard ).


5. Leave everything alone. Place the other piece of foamcore on top and pressing everything together flip it over. Remove the top foamcore to expose the topside of the overlay. Work the overlay back into position from where it came. Now using 3m removable frosted tape, tape the overlay back into position. Put a piece of tape every 8 inches across the overlay perpendicular to the cut. You want the overlay to fit perfect. Replace the foamcore top sheet and flip again. On the backside of the overlay cutout, place 969ATG, in sections all the way around the overlay. Remove the paper from the ATG. On a good flat hard even surface hold the bottom mat upright, have the 5 inch bottom on the bottom. Now hold the overlay sheet upright on the same bench 6 inches apart. You want the front side of the bottom mat facing the backside of the overlay sheet (HAVE THE BOTTOM OF THE OVERLAY SHEET ON THE BENCH) . Now keeping the top apart, line up the bottom edge and let it touch. Slowly bring the top closer making sure the bottom alignment stays true. When close to closing the top make your final adjustment and let it touch. Press firmly in several spots to set it tight. Now lay it down and press around the overlay to set it perfectly. Carefully remove the tape. Raise from the top of the mat carefully both parts about 2 inches and slip in one of the foamcore blanks. This protects it from bending and breaking. Now from the bottom lift and slide the top cutout off onto the foamcore. Figure 2 is the part you are removing I placed a piece of black matboard under half of it so you can see the cutout area better.

Figure 2


6. Your corners and tear drop cuts should look like figure 3 & 4.


Figure 3

Figure 4


7. Make some 1 inch wide strips of foamcore and break then into 3 inch long pieces. Place them under the mat so the mat is raised up 3/16 of an inch. The adhesive we'll use is UMS part number 2912 Fabric Adhesive. I prefer to thin it with a little water, mix it well. ( You still want some body in the adhesive-not watery ) . I use foam brushes 1 - 2 inches wide to apply the glue. ( buy the good foam brushes not the cheap packs ). Apply the glue as even as possible, try not to leave excess glue in tight spots and around corners. Apply glue carefully to the bevels and as evenly as you can. Try not to get any glue under the inside edge of the mat. Let dry about 30 minutes.


8. Place long strips of release paper under the mat and remove the 1 inch strips of foamcore as shown in figure 5.

Figure 5


9. Cut a piece of fabric bigger than the mat. On large mats I may extend out 6 - 12 inches over the edge of the mat. The reason for this is simple you many times need to adjust for defects in the material or to align the fabric square. Place the fabric over the mat and place the inside or bottom cutout into place ( remember use the pencil mark on the backside to align the cutout. ) as shown in figure 6

Figure 6


10. Very carefully place the top cutout sheet on top and work into place pressing firmly down all around the mat as shown in figure 7.

Figure 7


11. Trim off the excess fabric. Tape the outside edges together ever 6 inches, try to line up the top cutout mat with the overlay as you go. You should now have a complete package to put in the drymount press. If you have a hot vac press and the package will fit in try 30 min at 200 deg. If you have a standard drymount press you can heat it in sections as shown in figure 8. Give each section 30 min. at 200 degs..

Figure 8


12. When done cooking remove the top sheet and the bottom cutout. With a new razor blade cut the fabric from the center leaving about 1 inch at the inside edge. Turn the mat over and put a couple of strips of 969 ATG in each corner as shown in figure 9.

Figure 9


13. Turn the mat over and using a burnishing bone burnish each corner down to set the ATG on the backside and to give you a sharp corner. Now using a new razor blade cut a 45 deg starting at the bottom of the corner away from the mat. ( Don't cut up into the bevel ) see figure 10.

Figure 10


14. Put a couple of strips of 969 ATG around the perimeter of the mat. Using a burnishing bone try to make a sharp edge at the bottom of the bevel. A fast bone and a light touch works best. Once you have the fabric standing upright work it over the backside and press it to the ATG. It may take a bit of practice but make the edge as straight as possible. Work the corner tight for best results. When done top off with a fillet moulding as shown in figure 11.

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