Friday, November 17, 2017

DIY Faux Vintage Metal Personalised Picture Frame Makeover


This upcycling project combines inexpensive supplies to create a vintage metallic personalised picture frame, created as a guest collaboration with our partner blog, Dalmatian DIY Upcycling the frames is pretty straightforward and doesn't require much hands-on time, but you will need ample time for dry-time in between painting.  Since this is a cross-over collaboration with Dalmatian DIY, our personalised frames are a matching trio for the three pets - the DIY dogs generously conceded that their Tiger deserved one as well. To coordinate with our home decor and keep things versatile, the frames were finished in faux vintage silver metallic, but there are tips in the post below for other finishing styles and shortcuts. 


To make your own faux finished personalised frames you will need a recycle-ready picture frame or a new bargain buy with a thick flat border, suitable paints, thick dimensional alphabet stickers (thickers), paint brushes, masking tape (optional), gloves (optional), and rags, paper towel or sponge and water for applying the faux finish.  

I scored the three frames in this post in the clearance section at a local department store for a whopping 97 cents each, and those are NZ cents so extra cheap!  The chevron pattern wasn't raised but had very different finish texture; however, my trusty hammered metal paint (also used in these metallic decorations) has amazing coverage and is awesome for masking surface variations. I used hammered metal silver paint, and faux finished with vintage/antique gold and black craft paint.  Tips:  The frames can be finished in other styles, colours, and finishes to suit your personal taste. The hammered metal makeover also looks great plain, with our without the faux finish. A great way to refresh a few old frames or bargain buys to cover damage or make them better fit your decor or create a cohesive collection for a gallery wall.

Alphabet thickers come in all sorts of different font styles and sizes.  I had a few different packages already in my craft stash, and opted for a simple all-caps slightly irregular font (the same as our custom stamps).  I have some fabulous script/handlettering thickers, but all capital letters were a better option for my frame project than upper/lower because of the descenders on the g in Tiger and p+y in Humphrey. Whatever style you choose, make sure that they are made from a material and finish that will be easy to paint. Hammered metal paint is very versatile on many surfaces and my thickers were basic foam.  Shortcuts: If you don't want the letters to look like they are part of your frame like our all-metal faux vintage metallics, you can start with a basic pre-finished frame or refinish your frame to suit your style, and then simply personalise with thickers.  So easy!  Go crazy with colour, or keep it classic with a basic black or metallic frame and contrasting letters. There are some gorgeous thickers out there - foil metallics, glitter,  puffy gloss...  


  • Prepare your frames for painting by removing the backing and glass. Optional: mask the back sides of the frame if not painting (I did mine this way. Masking is optional of course, but painting is messy!) or remove the backing clips for painting if you are finishing the whole frame.  If needed, lightly sand and/or prime the frames before painting.  Ensure the frames are clean and dry before you begin painting. Tip: If your frames are new, don't recycle those little paper corner protectors just yet. They make handy rests to place under the back and hold the frame off your drying surface when painting. Keep the paper photo placeholders too - they're perfect templates for trimming your photos to fit the frames.
  • Prepare a painting work area in a suitable well-ventilated location follow all of the safety guidance on your chosen paint product. 
  • Paint the frame per the application and re-coat/dry instructions of your chosen paint. Tips: Hammered metal paint is one instance where we are happy to use a low quality or single use brush as clean-up is a nightmare with this paint. Bonus points if you paint multiple projects at once!  Wrapping the bush in cling-film will keep it usable for the next coat.  
  • Once the base is covered completely and (at minimum) touch dry, apply your thicker letters to personalise (see shortcuts above).  
  • Paint the thickers to blend into the frame per the application and re-coat/dry instructions of your chosen paint. Take care to ensure you have gotten all those tricky little corners, insides, and edges. This is a great time to do any touch-ups if needed elsewhere on the frame as well, including inside/outside edges. Once covered, allow to dry completely. 
  • If applying the faux finish, using small quantities of craft paint, incrementally dab/wipe/wash to create a faux aged look on your hammered metal base. Less is more - it's easier to build up and add than take away (you can always repaint and restart at worst case though!).  Tips: Using a vintage gold or bronze paint will add some warmth to the cold silver metallic base and the black will help to create age and grit. Apply a little stronger at the edges, corners, and any raised areas like the letters to simulate the natural ageing of metal.  If you are making multiple frames, like shown, try to get create a similar amount of aging on the full set for cohesion. Allow to dry completely. 
  • Remove the masking tape (if used) from you backing. Replace the glass, insert photo, replace and secure the backing panel, and enjoy the frames for yourself or gift to someone special.

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