Monday, October 11, 2010

Faux Silver Picture Frame TUT

I just love love love tutorials, don't you? I plan on doing them every chance I get, since I have learned so much from all sorts of artistic tutorials, WIPS (works in progress), and how to's!

Now this is more of a Mini-tutorial if you will. When I was doing this little project I wasn't planning on doing a tutorial, so I don't have any of "before" photos. But hopefully you'll get the idea. There aren't too many steps involved, but if you have any questions feel free to ask :) Also, I really didn't have any set ideas in mind when I started, I was just experimenting and ended up with a happy accident!

When I look for picture frames I almost never find what I'm looking for! If I find the right size it's the wrong color. If I like the design it's the wrong size and so on. So I picked up an ugly plastic cheapy frame from the Dollar Store. Yep, this frame on cost $1! It is a brown plastic imitation wood type of material. You can see what it looked like before since I didn't paint the back. First I carefully lifted the little metal prongs in the back holding the glass and cardboard in place. Set these aside and save them for your photo later.

Supplies I used:
~ Fine Sanding block (I get these in bulk from the Nail Supply Shop)
~White acrylic paint (I used Americana)
~ "Rub-n-Buff" in Silver Leaf color
~Black acrylic paint (I used Americana)
~A glossy sealant (I used Delta Ceramcoat Interior/Exterior Varnish)

First I used my sanding block just to take down a bit of the shine on the plastic frame. Then brushed it off with a big old fluffy paint brush to get all of the sanding dust out of the small crevices. Next I did two base coats of white and let dry. This will not be seen so it doesn't have to be perfect, I just used it just in case I got a little heavy handed with my sanding, I didn't want the the brown plastic to show through. At least a spot of white peaking through silver wouldn't be as noticeable ;)

Now let's grab a soft rag, some Q-tips (the pointy kind if you have them), the Rub-n-Buff, and frame and go outside. Rub-n-Buff STINKS! As soon as you open it you will notice it has a very strong smell. Luckily it doesn't smell after it dries.  Hey I just realized this is the first time I used this stuff for what it was meant for ha!  

My picture frame has a LOT of little bumps, ridges, and crevices. This is a good thing! The more detail you have in your frame the more the faux tarnished look will show up. 

Cover your frame with the Rub-n-buff. The less absorbent the rag you use the better, less waste. Cover the front, top, bottom, and sides. You can cover the back if your frame will be sitting out on a table. Mine will be on a wall and wont be seen so I skipped that step. Allow your Rub-n-Buff to dry to the light touch. I say light touch, because it doesn't actually seem to "dry". It gets dry to the point that you can paint over it and not get your paint brush all silvered. But if you "rub" it hard with your finger you will see traces on you skin. Ok..moving on...

Next I watered down my black paint a little so it would seep into all the low spots easier. I used a thin coat and covered all of the silver. Let dry. Now this is the experimental part that just didn't work out for me: I tried using a one step crackle, hoping the black would crack and show a little silver through for more of a spooky look. If I find the bottle I will post what brand not to use, but I think it made me mad and I threw it out! It seemed to make the black paint rubbery, it just wasn't working for me. So I started sanding the black off. As I did this it was left in all the low spots and I noticed it looked like a tarnished old silver frame, a perfect happy accident! The sanding sponges are perfect for this, they take off just enough off the raised surfaces and allowed me to get into some spots I wanted more silver showing. And just in case I sanded some of the silver too thin, I had the white behind it so it didn't show. After dusting it all off I used two coats of the Gloss Varnish. Viola! And the pic is sideways, google is being a brat today :)

To me, there are two basic ideas to "aging" or creating a faux vintage look, on picture frames, furniture etc. Either the top layer has been worn, bumped, and faded, showing the older layer of paint or original wood underneath it. Or the low spots have collected stain and grime over the years and the high spots are cleaner because of contact. You could also have a look that is a combo of both. Think of an old heavy detailed wooden frame painted white. What would happen to it over time? It might get nicked, or scraped up..what would be exposed when this happens? Where would the dirt settle? You can age a white detailed frame with a thinned down stain, or burnt umber paint etc. Brush it on really wet, then wipe off. You can also use crackle mediums, either one or two part (I'll get brave enough to crackle again soon I swear)

I'm sure I'll play around with a few more different techniques for future frames. I like the idea of getting my loved ones and memories out of my inbox and computer and putting them out where I can see them.
Have a great day and happy creating!


  1. Hi, I'm still touring the Practical Magic party - your doll is wonderful! And the frame on this post came out really neat!

  2. looks awesome...would never think it cost 1 dollar...great tutorial.

  3. Thank You, this is absolutely a fabulously useful tutorial :)

  4. Thanks for an idea, you sparked at thought from a angle I hadn’t given
    thoguht to yet. Now lets see if I can do
    something with it.

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  5. Hey! you blog is awesome.
    I know you have google translator option for the non-english speakers,
    but if you want I can translate your entries to spanish.
    Thanks for all your wonderful tutorials :D


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