Upscale Old Frames



Old Frames Can Be Recycled

Upscale Old Frames

I often pick up old frames in yard sales or second hand shops because people get tired of the old prints, or someone's hand painted art work. I almost never buy the frames for the prints or the artwork. I just see the frames. As an artist I can never have too many frames. Many of my family portraits are hung in frames I picked up at yard sales. On this page I will show you ways to upscale old frames whether for your art or family portraits. Plus I will share some important tips about framing valuable family portraits so they will last longer.

 

How to Upscale an Old Frame

Upscale Old Frames

Tools Needed

  • Spray Paint (for this project I used black and gold)
  • Glass Cleaner
  • Needle Nose plyers (for pulling out old rusty pins)
  • Masking tape (if painting more than one color)
  • Brown grocery sacks or newspaper
  • Straight edge razor to remove lable
  • Goo Gone (if glass has a sticky label on it that leaves a residue)
  • Mat board to fit new frame
  • Art work or photo that you want to frame
Old Frame Print from old Frame
.75 cent Yard Sale Find
The print was warped
Print from old Frame
Old Frame backing
The print was dirty from age and touching the glass
Cheap Cardboard backing.

 

Tips About the Right Way to Frame

 

Matted Art Matted Family Photos
 Matted Art
Matted Family Photos

Tip 1: Use Mat Boards

Many people do not know the proper way to frame photographs, prints, and art. If something is going to stay in a frame for any length of time it should never touch the glass.  So many things can destroy the photo, print, or artwork. In humid climates the photo, print or art could stick to the glass and if you ever decide to change the frame you may have a hard time prying it from the glass. Acid-free mat boards give a little breathing space between the photo, print, or artwork and the glass plus add an extra boost to the presentation of your framed selection. I use mat boards on everything, nomatter the size of the photo because I value my photos. If it is good enough to place in a frame then it is good enough to preserve with care. Mat boards come in a variety of colors and most frame shops will cut them to fit whatever it is you want to frame. I cut mine own because I have the tools to do it.

 

Old Frame backing
Cardboard can ruin the print
 

Tip 2: Use Acid-Free Backing

The backing is also important. You do not want to use cheap carboard because it contains acid and will break down over time and can do damage to your photo, print, or artwork. You want an acid-free backing such as mat board or foam core which is found in many craft, hobby stores today. For most frames a mat board will also serve as a backing whereas the foam core is thicker and may not fit flush against the back of the frame.

 

Dust Cover
Dust Cover on the back of treasured art or family heirloom photos.

Tip 3: Apply a Dust Cover

For really special works of art, or family heirloom photos you may also want to add an extra layer of protection with a paper backing which is glued to the back of the frame. That prevents dust from getting inside. That is why they call it a dust cover. Many frame shops add the dust cover as part of their framing service. You may need to request it.

 

Framed Artwork Decorative mat Framed Family photos
 Artwork needs glass
 Glass Protects
Family photos need glass

Tip 4: Glass to Protect Photos, Prints, and Art

The print from the old frame I found at a yard sale appeared to be faded which leads to me to share one more tip with you about the quality of the glass. You can also purchase special glass that will protect against harmful sun rays but you will pay much more for it. Just do not hang your valuables where it will have direct sunlight on for extended periods of time.

 

Remove Frame Contents Removing Points
Use needle nose plyers to remove pins.
Or use a knife to bend flat points

Another tell tale sign that this was an old print and an old frame was the rusty pins that were used to hold the print and backing in the frame. I used needle nose plyers (top left) to pull out the pins. The frame itself is a solid wood frame unlike most frame you find today made of resin. Since the wood was old it was also very dry. It is important to pull the pins straight out. When I tried to wiggle the pins out I accidently pulled a couple splinters of wood from the back of the frame. If the frame has flat tabs that are not rusty you can simply bend them back with a knife to remove the contents of frame.

 

Small Repair Use of Clamps
 Tacky Glue or Wood Glue to make repairs
Use clamps to hold small peices in place.

Dry wood can be very brittle and will splinter easily if your not careful. I made two blemished on the backside of the frame while pulling out the rusty old pins. So, I used Tacky Glue to glue them back in place. (above left) To hold them firmly in place while the glue dried I used clamps. (above right)

 

Old Frame backing Glass From Old Frame
Backing was done professionally many years ago.
Just look how nasty the glass was.

Times have changed and even though this framed lithograph print was put together by a professional it was not well preserved. The photo above left shows the stamp of the company that framed this print. You can see how the cardboard was breaking down and how it damaged the print that it was touching. The glass collects crud over the years inside and out which is another reason why to never let the glass touch the piece you are framing. I usually remove and discard everything but the frame and the glass. 

 

Cleaning Glass Cleaning Glass
 Clean the glass
Goo Gone to clean any sticky residue

 

Cleaning Glass Straight Edge Blade Holder
 Remove sticker with straight edge blade
Holder for straight edge blade

Clean both sides of the glass thoroughly. I always clean the glass before placing anything in a frame even if the frame is new. Remember to clean both sides of the glass and make sure you do not leave any peices of paper stuck to the glass that might get trapped inside the frame. Allow the glass to dry before reassembling. Use a straight edge blade to remove and tape, labels, or stickers from the face of the glass. Some labels or tape may leave a sticky residue behind. The best thing to clear that up is Goo Gone.

 

Painting a Frame

 

Upscale Old Frames Upscale Old Frames
Protect painting area from spray paint
Use glossy spray paint to paint frame

When using spray paint it is best to paint outside because you do not want the fumes in your house or workshop. I always keep the brown paper grocery sacks around just for the purpose of painting things. I just cut the bottom off the bags and split them up the side so I can open them up and them flat.  Be sure to give an even coat of spray over the entire face and the four sides of the frame. Look at it from different angles to check for missed areas. Allow the paint to thoroughly dry before handling the frame. If you plan to use an accent second color spray paint the main color first in this case my main color was black and gold is the accent color.

How to Apply an Accent Color

Upscale Old Frames Upscale Old Frames
 Tape inside edge
Tape outside edge
Upscale Old Frames Upscale Old Frames
Use glass as template to cut bag to cover opening Center opening masked off
Upscale Old Frames Upscale Old Frames
Backside of frame Front side all masked

As an artist I alwys keep a good supply of masking tape around. This project will use up quite  abit of masking tape. One feature I liked about this frame was that it has a braid like trim going around it. So I thought it would nice to accent that with a gold paint. I happened to have a can of gold spray paint in my workshop left over from a previous project. I needed to cover everything but the part I wanted to be gold.  I cut up strips of brown paper sacks to overlapp the outside of the frame so the spray of gold could not touch it.

 

Upscale Old Frames Upscale Old Frames
One more check to be sure tape is secure
Spray paint gold

Being that I was painting outside I placed boards on either side to prevent the paper from catching wind and lifting up the paper in the midst of my painting.

Upscale Old Frames Upscale Old Frames
When the gold paint is dry remove the masking
Here is the final touch, Black with gold accent

 

Point Driver Point Driver
 Point Driver
Drive Points in frame.

Assemble the new contents of frame: mat board(s), art, print, or photo, and backing. A point driver tool will drive flat points into the frame by pressing the trigger.

 

Upscale Old Frames
 This was the peice of art I intended this frame for

My plan all along was for a black frame with a gold accent and black mat boards to frame this work of art. When I saw the braid trim on this frame I envisioned it as pictured above. Since I already had the spray paints in my workshop this project cost me all of seventy-five cents. That is the beauty of do-it-yourself projects. I now have a custom frame just for this peice of art which was done with pastels. The only safe place for a pastel (chalk) drawing is under glass.

Upscale Old Frames
Upscale Old Frames
The Frame Before
The frame After

 

 

 

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