Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What to do with a thrifted frame, #2 - Antique Gold

I'm digging anything with either the "gilded" or "antique gold" look or stuff that's old and busted. So here's my take on how to made a thrifted frame do both.

Antique Gold Frame


Work already in progress...sorry
  • Wooden or plastic frame...plain or ornate
  • Fine grit sandpaper (I used 320)
  • Acrylic paint in dark brown and "vintage" gold
  • Foam brush
  • Paper towels
  • Gloves
  • Newspaper (several layers)
  • Plastic cup with water (for dunking brushes between coats)


  1. Prep work - Remove the glass an guts of the frame, and clean thoroughly. If your frame is wooden, you'll probably need to sand it to remove any varnish or coating on the frame (I sanded mine with 320 grit paper, and I don't think I got all the varnish off, but I don't think it really mattered in the end). Wipe any sanding dust off with a rag and completely dry the frame.

  2. Base coat - Spread out your newspaper, don some gloves, squirt some brown paint onto you paper and and generously apply to make a base coat.  It doesn't have to be perfect...you'll be painting over it. Dunk you brush in the water cup when you're done so it doesn't dry out (just make sure you dry it off pretty good before the next step).
    My base coat is going on more like a stain...whatever!
  3. Apply the gold paint - Don't wait for the brown to completely dry. Go ahead and start slathering on the gold paint.  I like the gold and brown to mix a bit, warming up the brown and making it less flat underneath. Let dry slightly between coats until you get the desired level of "goldness" (totally up to you...if you want it to be less metallic and more earthy, don't paint on so much gold). Dunk the brush when you're done.
    Keep piling on the gold until you feel you've got the right color. You don't have to let completely dry between coats.

    Done painting the gold. I like to use my work surface as my palette...less to clean up!
  4. Let the paint dry - Yep, this time, you gotta let it dry -- all the way.  Go make a pot of tea.

  5. Fill in the cracks - This part is hard to photograph by yourself, so bear with me.  Here's how it goes: 1. Jab some brown paint in the cracks and crevices; 2. quickly wipe the paint off with a paper towel (you don't want it on the flat surfaces); 3) turn the towel to find a clean spot.  Repeat that process until you've jabbed and wiped around the entire frame.  Make sure you use only the clean part of the towel when you wipe...you're wiping paint OFF, not buffing it ON.
    Jab brown into the cracks. I like using the foam brush b/c it has that little point on the end
    Wipe off the paint.

    Finished crack with extra brown.

    I think the extra brown adds a bit of "age" and dimension to the look...like it's been sitting in someone's house for a while, maybe collecting dust and memories.

    Cracks are all finished!
  6. Tone down the gold...if you want to - If you think your gold is too bright, you can use a paper towel to wipe quick, light strokes of brown paint onto the frame to tone it down a bit. If you pick a gold paint with a "vintage" or antiqued finish though, you should be okay as far as color goes.

  7. Add a clear coat...if you want to - If this is going to be used as a regular picture frame, once the acrylic dries all the way through, you should be good to go. However, if this frame is going to be used for something "high traffic" (like a jewelry display or something), you might want to add a few coats of poly or clear lacquer to the outside to make it more durable.
And that's it! Next time I'll take you through the steps that I use when I paint the top layer white and distress the frame.  Happy crafting.  :)

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