I hope Im in the right topic.. restoring a picture frame

JessicaBeSeptember 20, 2012

Hello I usually hang out in the Antique rose forum but when I went to go for a walk a neighbor down the alley has set out this beautiful big picture frame and in my opinion it is in bad condition. I have been wanting to turn an old frame into a mirror but just never gotten to look for one and well I brought it home took photos and now I am asking you guys if this is a good project or not for a beginner..

If you need more photos or certain close ups I will be delighted to do so!

Thanks for you help!

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Do some research on restoring old frames with gesso. It's labor intensive when you have a lot of loss in the original decoration - new portions of which which will continue to flake off unless fixed down in some way.

The frame looks too fragile to try and make molds of any undamaged portion. If it were more stable, you could use modeling clay and plaster of paris - but I'd be afraid lifting the clay would only pull off more.

I've seen old frames "restored" just with a gesso fill-in; not even trying to duplicate the fancy applications at all. Sometimes simply painted white over the new gesso makes a non-professional restoration fairly passable. Better than a bad attempt at recreating the decoration.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 1:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think that frame is beyond restoring the gesso....but if you have some place to soak it and could soak or chip off the rest of the gesso...sand it a bit and varnish....you will have a very nice primitive pine frame.

Here is a link that might be useful: pine frame that used to be gold gesso

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 3:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Fori is not pleased

I think Restoration Hardware would try to get a fortune for a frame in that condition--it's quite fashionable as long as it's not flaking onto your carpet! :)

I think if you want a rustic/distressed/shabby chic look you've got a great start (obviously!). I doubt it can be restored to its original glory but I bet it can look good in a weathered kind of way. There is a "trash-to-treasure" forum here (I think it's mostly trash hehe) as well as a decorating forum where some people get creative with old stuff. I'd try there.

Here is a link that might be useful: http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/decor/

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 3:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree with you, fori - if I had that frame, I wouldn't want it to be a sanded down, varnished plain pine frame. Those aren't that hard to find. A tub of gesso might make for a fun (and like I said labor intensive) project and give you a pretty good frame in the end.

I watched my mother do that very thing many times - she was quite talented and could carve the gesso to recreate the applied decoration.

But this one has character with all the dings; and would still have character with a patch in the worst spots.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 3:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes the frame is fragile and decor does flake off quite easily. Before I posted here I did look up restoring frames and I did see that they use clay and plaster or something and I figured since the decoration falls off so easy the clay wouldn't help any.

What I was wanting to do was replace some of the staples on the corners and paint it with Annie Sloan paint. I don't want it to look perfect I like it just the way it is but the decor is falling off so I figured some paint will help keep it in place.

Thank you all for replying to my question

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 3:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I kind of like the way it is but be sure that it's structurally strong enough to support a mirror before hanging it.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 4:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh dear.....I am not about broken frayed and crumbling....old and age marked...sure.
Likely I am speaking out of the "trend"....but to me that's too far gone to do anything but strip it and stain it and enjoy the old pine.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 6:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would lightly brush w/soft paint brush to remove all the loose paint, then give two coats of poly if you choose not to restore it.

I buy frames such as that all the time for my space in an antique mall, but never try to restore them. I paint mine a very pale blue, followed by a mocha glaze, highlight the raised area w/gold rub n buff, and finish with 2 coats of satin poly. I charge $95 for the larger ones and don't have a problem with them selling at that price. No one has ever questioned missing pieces, but I do fill in areas such as separating corners w/wood putty.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 8:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Use a carpenter's square to check if it is square. If the frame is true, you can do anything you want with it; stabalize the remaining gesso and paint or varnish.; paint the gesso a differnt color and over coat with a clear finish; Remove the gesso and refinish the wood. Considerable care must be used in removing the gesso so as not to mar the wood. A clean relatively smooth surface is easy to refinish; a gouged surface presents a chalenge. Deep gouges ruin the piece.

Mirrors can be very heavy compared to pictures. The frame may need reinforcing at the cormers (on the back side) to support a mirror. Also, strips can be put on the backside to mount the mirror. You should also consider how the finished product will be mounted. Will it be hung on a wall or mounted on supports on a piece of furniture such as a dresser. The mounting detail should be designed before you get too far into this project.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 3:36AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am with Linda on this one. It's a matter of choice, but there isn't enough of the original design left to replicate, and what's left is in very poor condition to preserve. It's what floats your boat, however and if you want to go the shabby chic route and like the results, there's nothing wrong with that, either. It's just that gessoed frames are common enough that it's not hard, nor expensive to find examples in better condition if you want that type of frame.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 7:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have been wanting to turn an old frame into a mirror

The problem is that mirrors are much heavier than canvas or watercolor paper. You need a stronger frame than that, with good corner blocking.

I had a mirror hanging in my bathroom in out vacation house ... left by the PO. It fell apart and crashed to the floor because they had used a cheap picture frame.

I like the frame as-is for a vintage looking watercolor or collection of old paper stuff. It has the current "chippy" look.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 12:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Fori is not pleased

Couldn't you just take a modern mirror with hooks already on its backing and sorta stick the frame over it? Use the mirror's support to hang it with no stress on the frame itself.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 4:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yeah....right...you're going to put a hook on the frame and hang it from your belly button!
They also make light cheap mirror glass. I have a big old frame that has a piece of cheap lightweight mirror. It's good enough for decorative purposes, however, likely you would not want to use it to apply eye liner.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 11:32AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sorry I haven't gotten back the replies are going to my spam folder... But it looks like I have posted a few times but its not showing up... huh...


Linda you right about the aged and marked I guess I just don't have the heart to throw it away :)

Fori that sounds like a good idea! Thanks!

I think I will just scrape (cringing while typing) gently the decor/gesso off and sand then stain the pine

lazygardens I like your idea also thank you :)

Bliss thank you :)

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 2:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Don't throw it away!!....Remove the rest of the gesso...sand and varnish...et voila! a great old pine frame...

Here is a link that might be useful: Great old frames

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 6:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh no I was just saying I don't have the guts to throw it away thats why I am trying to do something with it :^)

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 7:37PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Ideas about this vase/bottle?
Hello! I recently discovered this great forum and am...
Hi there, my husband and I inherited this tapestry...
Rosenthal China Pattern?
I stumbled upon this fine china bowl by Rosenthal,...
Help with age and materials of chair
I just purchased this chair, used, with the idea of...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™