Matting and framing your artwork enhances the visual aspect of the piece. Using proper acid-free materials and UV protective glass also protects your piece from the harmful effects of dust, smoke and sunlight. Coordinating your mat and frame with your room decor and style as well as the artwork itself can give you a piece that attracts the eye while secretly protecting it.
Simple mats and frames
Often the saying "the simpler the better" holds true for artwork. Your mat and frame should enhance the piece you are working with and therefore may only need the minimum in order to guarantee its protection. Choose a single mat with a color that works with the tones and colors in the artwork itself. Consider a wide range of colors before deciding, as different colors may enhance different aspects of the art. The same can be said of frames. Depending upon the style of the room and the piece itself, look for a thin (about 1/2 inch) frame. This can be in any material, from metal to wood, and can be coordinated with your decor should you choose. It will provide a "line" around your piece that helps to keep the viewer's eye trained on the art itself, not the mat and frame.
Multiple layers and specialty cuts
Multiple layered matting is often referred to as "double-mat." This literally means placing one mat on top of the other with windows that are cut slightly larger than each other. A border of color from the bottom mat is shown through the window of the top mat. This is a great technique if you wish to enhance multiple aspects of your art work or provide a certain amount of depth to the piece itself. Specialty cut mats can be done in a wide variety of cuts, borders and windows. Multiple window mats can allow you to frame your piece along with something special or personal. Special scrollwork or arched borders can be cut into a mat to enhance the piece itself. Framing should reflect the type of matting you are doing. With a more ornate mat, you might want your frame to reflect and special arches or scrollwork. Keep in mind, the idea is to enhance the piece of art itself, not to draw the eye to the mat and frame.
An interesting newer technique in matting artwork has come from the artists themselves. Many are providing mats with their pieces that have been painted in a continuation of the original piece. For example, an artist paints a scenic meadow filled with wildflowers. She then mats that piece and continues to paint the scene on the mat itself so that it is almost impossible to tell where they separate. This technique does add a dimensional effect to the artwork itself. This can also be done using photographs, if you have access to more than one copy of a photo or multiple sizes of the same photo. Take one photo and adhere it to an acid free mat, cutting a window in the photo itself. You can then place the mat over another copy of the photo, providing the dimensional look. A deeper frame may be needed to provide extra space so the mat does not come up against the glass protection.