Friday, June 7, 2019

Frame Makeover How-To: The Somber and Dramatic Version

This is a two-part post showing the same frame done in two different styles. 

This oil painting is one of the nicest things in our house. My husband found it on the side of the interstate 40 years ago. Those two pieces of information kind of sum up my decorating style. It was the ultimate roadside pickup! Since part of the detail was chipped off, my mother in law chipped off the rest of it and finished it with one of those antiquing kits that were popular in the seventies.

We've come a long way, baby. 

It's bothered me for the 27 years we've been in this house. I love the painting and always wanted it to have a frame worthy of it, but wasn't quite sure how to make that happen. Can I just say this is a great time to be a person who loves projects? If you can envision it something exists to make it happen. So many great products. I feel like I used them all on this piece. You'll see. 

Let's start with a before.

The first step was to try and decide what the frame originally looked like. My husband said it was dark wood and I could see that the details had been on each corner, top, bottom, and sides. So there was the precedent. I knew where details should go but what should they be? Flowers? Swags? Rope?
I focused on the tree that is prominent in the painting and decided on acorns and oak leaves.

Okay, y'all. If you don't know about Iron Orchid Designs products you are in for such a treat! They make these fantastic molds and paper clay that air dries. I created all the oak leaves and acorns plus glued them on using Tacky Glue in about an hour! It took no time at all and was super fun.

Watch a how-to video from IOD here. 

None of the products I used has any odor. I was working outside because It was too beautiful to be indoors.

Once everything was glued on and the glue was dry, I painted my base coat of Jolie Terra Rosa because, first, it's a color I had on hand and second, I wanted layers of depth and color. Third, I also wanted to create a uniform surface for the gel to go on. It looked kind of scary for a minute. Every project has that moment. Cry if you need to then just get on with it. 

As the clay continued to dry it shrank so there were areas that pulled away from the paint.

This is just the way the clay works and this is supposed to happen. It won't matter as you'll see. Next up was applying the General Finishes Gel Stain in Java. I used a medium chip brush for the frame and an artist brush to squish it in around the details. I wiped back the excess stain as I went.

A word about the stain: I did this during a rainy few days and it took a long time to dry. Be patient. Remember when doing all kinds of projects the temperature and humidity may be a factor. 

See? The shrinking didn't matter at all! As soon as I got the stain on this piece started to look like carved wood. I was super excited!

As soon as the stain was dry (24 hours later it was still tacky but the details seemed drier probably due to being porous) I started adding the gold leaf.

It looked pretty rough but so many layers were going to go on top that I didn't panic. My gold leafing skills are pretty sketchy, As you'll see though, it makes absolutely no difference.

Let's take a moment to talk about your project attitude. Y'all. You can play. It's okay. I hear so many people talk about making mistakes or messing something up. Yes! That's what happens sometimes! Where did this fear and need for perfection come from? Some of my best work comes from something that didn't go the way I meant for it to. Relax. It's all supposed to be fun. PLAY! 

When I got all my gold leafing done it felt too stark. Too much shiny goodness against the stain. I started to rub it with dark wax but decided to go with the stain over the gold leaf for even more drama. I wiped it back hard as I went. Then I mixed up some Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in Grain Sack to make a wash to simulate aged dried out wood.

I just swished it on with a brush in sections, wiping it back immediately as I went. I especially wanted it to gunk up in the corners and around details to look a million years old. I just kept wiping it back as I went.

Now we're getting somewhere! This layered crusty goodness is what I'm after!

Just look at how gorgeous it looks next to the painting!

I have to say I was a little impressed with myself. But it wasn't my skills it was the incredible products that are available to create whatever your little decorating heart desires. There is literally zero skill required and even a beginner can create this look as long as you are willing to dabble, experiment, and play.

I could have stopped here if the setting for the painting had been different. We'll cover how it all turned out in the next post.


NOTE: In the Memphis area all these products are available at Me & Mrs. Jones. 

  • Remove painting
  • Clean frame. 
  • Mold and glue on clay details. 
  • Paint with base color - Jolie Terra Rosa
  • Apply General Finishes Gel Stain in Java wiping back excess as you go. 
  • Let dry 24 hours. 
  • Apply sizing and gold leaf to details
  • Brush on Miss Mustard Seed Grain Sack watered down and wipe back. 
  • Brush stain over gold leafed areas and wipe back. 
  • Let dry 
  • Either leave as is or seal with Jolie clear and dark wax. 

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