View Full Version : Repairing damaged frames

01-06-2011, 09:20 AM
Although I used to refinish furniture, I am at a loss about fixing damaged frames. Besides putty to fill gouges and cracks, I am unsure about suitable sprays, paints, or finishes to bring the frames back to life. Frames have become almost disposable and I have a pile either needing tweeks or needing the trash can. Thing is, I really don't want to invest in another hobby. Any suggestions?

01-06-2011, 09:42 AM
I guess it would depend on where the damage is, and how handy you are. I know frames can be broken apart at the corners, and re-cut to different sizes, reassembled, and voila!, a new frame. You do have to have the right tools to do this though. Sometimes you can re-cut, omitting the offending area. If it is a larger frame, this is much easier, as you have more moulding to work with. You end up with a smaller frame, but at least it is usable.

If you don't want to go that route, I would think if it is wood, treating it like furniture would work well, that is what my friend does (he frames all my work). If it is of other material, I wouldn't know, I guess you would just have to try different "fixes", like wood filler, putty, paint, to see if it works.

I'm no expert in this area, so I'm interested in seeing what others suggest.

01-06-2011, 11:39 AM
I am talking more superficial stuff than taking the things apart. I'm not looking to invest in a workshop to do this saving of frames. Mostly I know
I can fill gouges and chips, but I am unsure about the finishes to use on top. I like gold frames, but they are impossible to spot fix like wooden-toned ones are, so I'm curious what to do with them. And silver/pewter ones.

For example, despite my protests, I was required to put a sticker on the gold leaf frame of a piece staying in sea air for two months. Now the gold leaf is gone off of an otherwise decent plein air frame. Other golds will not match, so I'd need to re-do the whole gold frame and have no idea about good products for that, beyond misc gold spray paint from WalMart, which I doubt will do.

In short, I loathe when shows cost me an entry fee, mileage, a frame, the finding and purchasing of another frame, AND the time and effort to reframe. If I could stop that cycle somehow, reasonably and inexpensively, I would be happy!

01-06-2011, 11:51 AM
That really stinks. Wondering why they wouldn't let you put the sticker on the glass? It doesn't seem right for someone to expect you to ruin a perfectly good frame just to put a sticker in a certain spot. Maybe in the future you could take a piece of clear tape, some paper, and the sticker, and create something that sticks to the glass (the clear tape), but hangs down over the frame (the paper, with the sticker on that, no glue on the frame)? Some sort of compromise should work. I know how expensive framing is, as well as annoying......... I wouldn't be happy either.:(

01-06-2011, 12:12 PM
Suffice it to say that I will never do this Colonial Beach show again. The price of a show should not also add on the price of a frame; each little art society has their own away of doing things and it is impossible to buck their system. When you go for the first time to a show, after driving over an hour or more, you are too often faced with a new way to stupid up an easy system.

This is not the only time such a thing has happened. For example, I have a pewter-ish one that has a gouge out the front. I was doing monthly shows at a very conscientious framer, so I know it was an accident, but I surely would have appreciated the framer fessing up to the accident. I noticed it two months later when I pulled it out of the cardboard it'd been stored in, then I could not use it at the subsequent show I was pulling it out for. Add that to my list of greviences!

01-06-2011, 12:39 PM
I definitely understand. I cringe when I send something out for a show, and I usually hand deliver it. I always wonder how it is going to be handled, and keep my fingers crossed when I go to pick it up. I've got 5 in a gallery right now, and they're on a designated wall, so I don't think they're being touched at all - one can hope anyway. I have another one to pick up next week, again my fingers are crossed...... and another that is staying until the end of the month, again watch my crossed fingers.....

I guess this sort of goes along with the territory, though I really wish people would understand just how much this eats into our pocketbooks, not to mention the hassle..... Hang in there....

01-06-2011, 12:44 PM
I can totally appreciate your frustration.

I personally need a workshop in frame restoration. I'm sick of shelling out and then getting some small gouge or nick and don't have the tools to fix it.

You are right not to repeat a show that handles works that way and if there is any chance of "educating them" on the damage it causes, it may help others.

On the other side of the coin, I've also chaired shows and received work for shows that result in some frustration. "No I never filled out the label... what label"? "Oh I'm supposed to put it on the back?" "Oh the paint is still wet". "Sorry - I substituted it for another piece". "Watch out for the exposed nails."

They are lucky you are conscientious. Barb

01-06-2011, 01:26 PM
I try to distress the old frames, yesterday I lightly sanded a gold frame that lost a flake or two, then I covered the whole frame in acrylic colour a green then a black with a rag then wipe back then rewax, I found a product called Rub and Buff (in some old art supplies), a metallic wax which covers well, I experiment with different paints I have around the studio and use black shoe polish on the top the buff... some work and some go back to wait for another rainy day to rework

01-06-2011, 01:54 PM
Too bad we all have such similar experiences.

Dan, thanks so much for writing. What you describe seems reasonable. The art supply store I go to has little tubes similar to that, but there are so many, it's tough to know what you're getting. Thanks for sharing what you found to work. I would have never considered shoe polish! What sort of wax do you use?

01-06-2011, 01:55 PM
What shade is your Rub n Buff? (I guess this is the wax you were referencing?)

I once bought Autumn Gold and is was horribly garrish. Perhaps the shoe polish or an acrylic over it would tone it down.

Deborah Secor
01-06-2011, 05:39 PM
I do a lot of the same kinds of things Dan describes. For instance, I took a gold frame and used a ScotchBrite scouring pad to lightly sand it all over, revealing a lot of the red undercoat, then sprayed with some clear coat and it was good to go for another round. I've used my acrylic paints to mix a color that I water down and use a paper towel to streak over the surface of sanded wood until it's a color I like or need. Sometimes I spatter dark, bright gold, or cream colored paint with a toothbrush and lightly sand that off. I finish them with clear acrylic spray so they look nice and are protected.

I also have a set of wax crayons in various gold colors that I've used for years to touch up little dings and corners of gold or silver frames. Woodworkers use them. My husband put me onto them years ago. They're thick and melt together, and can be coaxed into little spots like putty. Very useful. http://www.toolsforworkingwood.com/Merchant/merchant.mvc?Screen=NEXT&StoreCode=toolstore&nextpage=/extra/LB-retouchcrayons.html

Here's some of the Run-N-Buff. It's pretty useful, too. http://www.artright.com/supplies.htm There's another product there called Treasure Gold that might be helpful, but I haven't tried it.

Anyway, lots of ways you can play around. I always figure if I have a frame and glass I can gin up a new look for it. I often make three or four that look close to the same so I can hang them together or mix them in with the others I have on display. I want a cohesive look.

01-06-2011, 08:07 PM
Deborah, many thanks to both you and your husband. I have a few wedges of this in brown, but I really like the metallic colors.

Thanks for contributing to my shopping list. Now I know that anything goes as far as products and layering, kind of like multi-media on wood.

01-07-2011, 12:43 PM
What shade is your Rub n Buff? (I guess this is the wax you were referencing?)I once bought Autumn Gold and is was horribly garrish.
That is the colour I inherited but I toned it back with the shoe polish I like the metallic shine and the coverage but not the tone

01-07-2011, 02:22 PM
Deborah, thanks for the link for those retouching crayons. Those would probably work great.

One thing I might try if the retouching metallic color doesn't match the original color would be to first use it to fill the gouge, then scumble it all over the rest of the frame so that it's an accent color against the original.

I redid some scratched up frames in New Orleans with gold acrylic paint, tube acrylics, then glazed burnt sienna over it to get a reddish look in the crevices. It came out well. I liked it anyway and figured if the acrylics were good enough to sell paintings with, they'd work on frames. I did sand it a little first so that the paint would stick well. It didn't peel.

Kathryn Wilson
01-09-2011, 09:55 AM
This has been interesting to read - I have a PILE of gold frames that need some fix-up. I thought about sanding them all down and using an "espresso" spray I found in a paint department.

Anybody else try this? This color frame is very popular in this area and people loathe the gold.

01-10-2011, 12:15 AM
Over the weekend, I talked to a friend who is a professional painter of faux finishes and murals. She often has to do refinishing of frames and furniture. She uses Goldens' metallic products (http://www.dickblick.com/products/golden-interference-and-iridescent-heavy-body-acrylic-colors/).

I also saw these Sargent's Metallics at Blick (http://www.dickblick.com/1/1/35239-4-oz-jar-gold-sargent-metallic-acrylics.html).

Seems there's more than one way to skin a cat.

Deborah Secor
01-10-2011, 02:01 AM
There you go, Bonnie.

Go for it, Kat. It's always easier to darken a frame. I bet you can make them like new!

01-10-2011, 08:19 AM
My friend also commented about the gold leaf frame I mentioned here. She said the adhesive for the gold leaf to the frame was less strong than the adhesive on the label, so the label won. And that just showed that it was a cheaply/poorly done frame. (Jerry's) She's done gold leafing, but doesn't recommend it.

Also, if it oxidizes, leaving finger prints and marks, it is probably cheaper metallic leaf and not gold (stable, does not oxidize) leaf, even if it has the lines/partitions that look like gold leaf.

Your best bet with gold or metallic leaf is to give them a quick seal with a spray or brush varnish before you use them. I think I will generalize that to all metallic-finished frames.

She spoke of using wood putty or caulk, saying caulk will bow out of a gap depending on temperature. For a larger space, you can put caulk in deep and putty on top.

I like this tip. When compensating for damage in a corner, for example, repeating the repair color in all the corners and then feathering it inward can be a good alternative to refinishing the whole frame and it gives a custom look.

I'm sure I'll remember more pearls of wisdom. I told her this would be a great topic for an art society meeting.

Kathryn Wilson
01-10-2011, 08:29 AM
And that just showed that it was a cheaply/poorly done frame. (Jerry's) Also, if it oxidizes, leaving finger prints and marks, it is probably cheaper metallic leaf and not gold (stable, does not oxidize) leaf, even if it has the lines/partitions that look like gold leaf.

Yep, those are the culprits. They aren't worth the time and expense to re-do the gold leaf; I'd suggest stripping and painting them