Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ornate Frame Restoration

Frames get me into trouble.  I don't know if it's because I once worked in a photography studio and sold them - or what, but they are one of those things that are hard for me to resist.  I just find them so interesting and beautiful - it doesn't matter if I have something to put in them or not.

My Aunt Alice once asked me after seeing some pictures of my home, "Are the empty frames hanging on your walls a new way to decorate?"  At the time, "no", but lucky for me I think I'm in style now.

While I like almost any kind of frame, my favorites are the chunky, ornate ones - and I say the chunkier the better!  Unfortunately, it's hard to find one that is inexpensive - unless it is damaged.  But here is the silver lining:

 a damaged frame - discount for the damage 
+ little repair job =
 gorgeous piece for your home 

Here is how I deal with the damage:

This is a 24" x 30" frame I purchased from an on-line garage sale.  I think I paid about 15% of what it might retail for.

It had pieces completely broken off that paint alone would not cover.

Using this wood filler by Minwax, I filled the voids and worked the filler until it resembled the general form of the ornamentation.  This filler dries very hard and durable, but you have to work quickly since a hardener added to it causes it to set up in 1-2 minutes.  Once it was dry, I went to work with an ice pick, sandpaper, emery boards, etc., to shape the dried filler to resemble the ornamentation on the opposite side of the frame.  Now, I am not an artist, sculptor, nor woodworker.  In fact, if you look very closely, I did not do the greatest job - but it's good enough!  Now that the frame is painted, no one but me can really tell that the frame had ever been damaged.

This is my carved repair.

I definitely think she was worth saving, 
and look how lovely she looks in white.

This is the painted repair.

This corner is not one that was repaired, yet is about as rough as the side I carved when you look closely.  

So, the frame isn't perfect - 
but don't you just love things that are still beautiful even though they're not?  To me, THAT is the essence of life.

 What do you adore that is far from perfect, but you wouldn't change in any way?  Good stuff to think about.......

Thanks for stopping by,



  1. If you hadn't told me, I never would have known that frame was damaged! Great job. ~ Maureen

  2. I have some frames that I am about to paint antique white. What paint do you use on those that have a metallic finish? I recently discovered rustoleum spray paint for metal (thanks to pinterest) and plan to turn everything that has a brass finish in this house ( interior door handles, fan blades etc) oil rubbed bronze to match the amazing door handles we bought from the States. Wish I had also ordered white because it took me ages to track it down here and much persuasion of the paint shop owner who didn't want to sell me only a few cans as it was a special order.

  3. Great repair. I have been using a product called 'Kwikwood' that is a two part putty that enables me to mold and shape as if i were playing with clay. ;-) I have rebuilt legs on tables, claw feet and tons of frames. Just thought i would suggest it.

  4. Hi Ellie,
    I'm calling by from My Romantic Home. I'm also drawn to frames so I had to pop over and read your post.
    I love your ornate frame and yes, it looks fabulous in white. BTW great repair!

  5. We found a gorgeous frame @ the recycling center. Unfortunately, it's missing the ornamentation in one corner. We definitely cannot afford professional restoration and I think even if we attempted restoration like what you wrote about, it would look horrible. Should we just embrace its flaws or try to hide it with oh, a big flower or something? lol. Help!

    1. Hi N. I think it would depend a little bit on the frame, but honestly I would just embrace it. That look is in and if it is pretty to you and doesn't bother you, then hang it up and enjoy it. I personally like things with flaws, because they represent real life. Painting it would help blend the flaws, but, again, you might like the finish it has now. Check out my "She Doesn't Measure Up" post....it's a mirror with the ornamentation missing and I like it just as is. I wish I could see a picture - I'll bet it is a treasure. Best of luck.


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