|Restored frame, dates from late 1800s-early 1900s.|
Nowadays there is a lot of plastic in frames, they’re too shiny and lightweight. I like old things, and I love old frames, and I have been known to tinker with and restore both.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, heavy and handcrafted “gilt gesso” frames were very popular. A very thin coating of gold was applied to wood or porcelain. Gilding gave the impression of richness at a fraction of the cost.
|As it came home, crud and all, missing pieces.|
All of the tacks holding it together had rusted through. Pieces of decorative gilt had fallen off, crumbled or gotten loose. Many chunks were missing.
|Washing it made even more chunks fall off.|
It wasn’t easy, and it took a long time.
|I decided to scrape off all of the trim and save the good pieces.|
More and more pieces fell off, though. So many that I wound up taking a kitchen knife and prying them all off, collecting the puzzle-like pieces in a baggie.
|Turned these pieces on their side and glued them on.|
The frame is actually three frames that fit together — outer, middle and inner. I turned it over and glued them all back together.
|Back view: The frames within the frame.|
|Glue and pieces.|
|The modeling clay, which turned out to be the wrong kind. Ugh!|
|Molding pieces and gluing a pattern together.|
|Glue and filler.|
Elmer’s All-Purpose glue and GE silicone caulk got a real workout here, and the frame is super solid now.
|Ready to fill in.|
I decided to use a hammered copper spray paint to coat the outer and inner frame, and masked off the middle wood to keep it as original as possible. The copper paint coated and filled in the glued-on pieces -- 10 coats!-- and camouflaged the homemade bits, and by design pulled together the inner and outer frames.
|Glass pieces along the inner rim.|
But there was a problem: The paint would not dry on the modeling clay. It stayed sticky and even pulled off! Potential disaster. But I brushed Elmer's glue over the tacky spots, let that dry and painted the copper over them again -- this time, with a small brush. That did the trick.
|More glue brushed on, to hold everything tight.|
|Masked and sprayed.|
|The wood before brushing on new stain.|
Getting the glass back in was tight and required a little whittling.
|Waiting for it to dry!|
|Applying a wash of the acrylic paint.|