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Framing: Decorate a mat with a wash drawing and filigree lines

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Embellish the mat with a delicate colored line? A classic framing element! Cut from colored paper, drawn or wash painted, the filigree line will increase the impact of your subjects, whether classic or contemporary. 

Good to know

  • The wash drawing (a line painted with diluted ink or watercolors) must be painted on water-resistant laminated paper.
  • This technique, very demanding, requires time and calm: did you turn off the phone? Your children are at school or away on vacation?
    3, 2, 1: let's go!
  • Choose colors that harmonize with those in your project.

Paint a line

Materials: 1 3H pencil, 1 watercolor or 1 diluted ink color of your choice, 1 wash brush, 1 water jar

  • On a scrap of laminate board, make color tests, diluting more or less, until you obtain the desired shade.
  • On the laminate board, trace, around the mat opening (previously cut), the frame in which you will paint the wash drawing. With the 3H pencil, make a small channel that will contain the color and keep it inside the designated frame.
  • Dampen the inside of the frame with clean water, using the wash brush.
  • Load your brush with sufficient color to complete the line from one end to the other. Work very quickly, starting from the corners. Repeat on the 3 other sides. Connect before allowing to dry.


Protect the outline of the area to be painted with strips of masking tape. Extend your wash with a paintbrush or create texture with a sponge or a stiff brush.

Apply ink filigree lines

  • With a straight edge and pencil make reference marks around the mat opening. Space them as you like
  • Paint a watercolor line, with a wash brush.
  • When inking, always begin with the line closest to the mat opening, then make the others in succession.
  • Position a straight edge, preferably skid-proof, on the reference line. Draw the line with a fountain or felt-tip pen, using a nib of the desired weight. 
  • Move the straight edge to draw the other lines.



Pens are easier to use than a traditional ruling pen, a type of adjustable nib holder (which allows you to control the width of the line). Careful, they have a short life!

Gluing a paper filigree line

  • In colored paper, use a paper cutter to make four lines (two for the length and two for the width): use the dimensions of the mat opening + 2 cm extra.
  • Plan their placement on the mat.
  • Put a coat of white glue on a glazing plate, apply the line, then take it off.
  • Glue it to the mat and cut the ends on the bias with a cutter.