Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Distressing A Picture Frame

In this tutorial we will learn how to distress a picture frame. If you're into shabby chic, then this project will be perfect for you. For those of you that are not familiar with this style, shabby chic look basically involves taking new objects and giving them an old worn out look that you would see in your grandmothers house. I know this does not sound appealing, but when done correctly, it turns your surroundings into an inviting and cozy place. Nostalgia can be extremely cozy. Whether it is a picture frame or a piece of furniture, our goal is to make it look as though we had it for years. I have a side table in a hallway that was done this way. My grandmother, upon seeing it, offered to cover it with a coat of paint. I had a hard time explaining to her that this was done on purpose. She just couldn't understand it. To her this type of furniture means poverty. When I told her that some of these pieces are sold in trendy stores for hundreds of dollars, she was shocked. I don't think she beleived me. In any case, enough talk and let's get to distressing. Things you will need:
1. sand paper fine and coarse
2. painting brush (the cheaper the better)
3. wooden picture frame
4. candle (or wax)
5. reguar paint in two different colors plus white (here you can use any combination you want. One color and white will do just as well)

If your frame has a glossy finish on it, do sand it a little bit so that the paint will stick. Start painting the frame. It doesn't matter whether you choose red or green. I chose red first. I use satin finish because there isn't too much gloss in satin. Allow paint to dry completely to the touch - about 25 minutes depending on the paint.

Before we put the second coat on, we have to rub some candle wax on the frame. Our goal is to later expose corners and edges because these are the places that would normally see heavy wear and tear over the years. You can rub in other spot as well to give it a really beat up look. The reason for using candle wax is to prevent the second coat from sticking to the first. Some people use paper cement which works good too, but I try to stay away from it due to the smell and fumes. Don't be shy with the wax. Put on a lot. Later on you will take a piece of coarse sandpaper and scrach off at the places where you rubbed the candle wax on.

Now put on a coat of green (in your case it might be red if you started of with green). Wait until the paint is dry.

Take that sand paper and fold it to form a sharp edge. Start scratching at the spots where you put the candle wax. Once you see the red coming through - stop. You don't want to scratch the red off. Scratch next to the exposed red if you want more red to show through. How much you want to expose is up to you.

Once you're done with the sand paper, we are going to rub candle wax again but with a little trick. Make sure you put a lot on the exposed red and on the green surrounding it. In the end you want red and green to show through the white, so put that wax on both colors. We want the picture frame to look as though it's been painted many times over the years with different colors and now some colors peeled off and we see all three. Put a coat of white. Wait until it is dry to the touch. Grab that sand paper again and start scratching where you previously rubbed the candle wax on. You should see both colors coming through now.

When you are satisfied with the look you might want to lightly rub with fine sand paper just to get rid of any loose pieces of paint if there are any. You're almost done. In order to keep paint from scratching during use, I usually throw a coat of water based minwax polycrylic protective finish (clear satin) on it. It will seal the paint and give it a matte, slightly off white finish.

Hope you have fun with this. If you like me to do a tutorial that is not listed here, leave a comment. If I can, I will post one. For those of you who have tried this tutorial and absolutely loved the results, consider making a donation (paypal). You can give as little or as much as you want on my main website

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Babsarella said...

This is TERRIFIC!!! Thanks for the GREAT info, and I will be sure to give this a go!!

Lara Berch Tutorials said...

Thank you :-)


Thank you so much for all of your wonderful information. I can't wait to use some of your techniques. I love your collage work and will really enjoy doing a collage ala..Lara.
I'm just starting out, especially with the BLOG stuff. Next week I'm going to Art Unraveled, my first retreat.

Sam said...

WOW, just discovered your blog and website...what wonderous places, full of imagination...thank you for sharing!

Lara Berch Tutorials said...

Sam, Thanks a lot. I tried to access your blog but it won't let me :-)

CĂ©lia Costa said...

Wonderful tutorial, thanks so much for sharing !
I love to see a tutorial about Altered Trading Card and/or Altered Books.These are my suggestions !

Lara Berch Tutorials said...

Cellyoneill, Thank you. I tried to look at your blog, but when I click on the name it doesn't take me anywhere...what is the URL?

Lara Berch Tutorials said...

Celly, I have never done altred books....I'll be sure to give it a try :-)

Mady said...

Hi Lara - just read your tutorials and they are GREAT! I love how you use regular materials and your emphasis on doing things in an individual way rather than "by the book".

I'm just taking my first steps in art, and tutorials like these are EXACTLY what I need!

I'd love to have a primer (or some ideas) on the different kinds of inks out there, and how/when/where to use them. There are about a million choices and it can get really confusing for a new artist. :)



Anonymous said...

Just found your blog and website and am looking forward to learning some new techniques. With the shabby chic picture frame, do you remember what colour green you used.....I love that colour!
Thanks, now I'm off to read and learn and gain some inspiration.
dorothy in bc by the sea

Lara Berch Tutorials said...

Anonimus, I don't remember the exact color :-)

Catharina Maria said...

Thanks for all the good tips .
love Rini - the Netherlands

Imaginative Frame Design said...

that is a perty good tutorial i am going to try it, and i am new to bloging. i had a quick question i recently started to paint frames for a class assigment and i used spray paint its that a good idea or a bad idea?

Lara Berch Tutorials said...

Imaginative...Yes you can spray paint them...I don't know if it's good or bad...I can't think in those terms...If you like it then it's good :-)))))

Liz said...

fabulous!! I am doing this exact process on a picture frame today before I distress two 1950's oak dressers, using this exact process. I've scoured the web and this is the easiest, and the BEST tutorial I've come across. Thank you!!!

Meggy said...

WOW it's gorgeous! Thank you for the great tutorial.

Debbie said...

i followed your directions after seeing this online and my stools came out amazing. thank you so much for teaching me this technique. i will use it a lot!!! and i am new to all of this but you gave me the confidence to give it a try! thanks again!!!

prayalways said...

I've been stressing over how to decorate a shadow box for a baby shower gift, and this is peerrrrrrrrfect!! Thank you sooo much!!

Anonymous said...

this is awesome.. I can now create my own frame without having to search for hours! This is Genius!