Sponge a mat

Sponging a mat is one of the easiest techniques for achieving a custom finished look. The technique consists of applying a colour or series of colours to the mat surface with a sea sponge.

Natural sea sponge is used because of its random patterning. Usually artists' watercolour or acrylic is used for the paint and an alpha-cellulose matboard is used for the mount.

Alpha-cellulose boards have a sized surface which accepts paint well.

Most rag boards have very little sizing on the surface and this lack of sizing can cause the paint to bleed.

Sea Sponge
How to sponge a mat

1. Select an appropriate coloured or plain mat board and cut it to the external measurements required. Do not cut the window.

2. Select appropriate watercolours or acrylics in the colours to suit the artwork.

3. Mix the paint with water until a wash consistancy is achieved.

4. Damp the sponge in water and wring out.

5. Put the sponge into the paint and then apply it to a test piece of mat to check the colour and texture produced.

6. If the effect is suitable then sponge the surface of the matboard.

Note: In between each impression of the sponge rotate your wrist so as to present a different surface of the sponge to the mat. This will avoid any repetitive patterns forming.

7. When you have achieved an even coverage, put the board aside to dry.

8. Repeat stages 3 - 6 for up to three colours or tones.

Note: Usually two or three colours are more than enough to give a satisfactory finish.

9. When the mat has dried thoroughly, cut the window to fit the artwork.


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