Painting Gallery Frames: Cheater DIY from Bland to Black!
Not too long ago in one of my treasure hunting adventures I came across this set of four vintage pencil drawings, and knew instantly I wanted to take them home! Vancouver, after all, is my home away from home.
I love Vancouver! But… I wasn’t so sure I loved the blonde wood frames. I propped them up against the wall for the time being, just to live with the frames and see if a clear wax was in order, or if painting the frames black was tugging at my soul.
Lo and behold, on another thrifting adventure a few weeks later I came across two more drawings to this set.
So now, hmmm, a gallery wall with six framed drawings in blonde wood frames? I wasn’t feeling it, not for me. What I did know was I wanted to keep the frames. But here’s the thing. These frames are old, and this is what the back looks like.
Tiny little nails hold the print inside the frame, so I wasn’t really keen on removing all the nails from all six prints to paint the frames. In fact, I needed to add a few more nails to push down spots where the prints have warped over time. I just call these imperfections the ‘Wabi-sabi‘ of the find!
So here’s the cheater steps I took to paint the frames without disassembling the prints from inside.
1. Tape off the inside edges of the glass next to the frame.
My painter’s tape is fairly wide, so I was able to take one strip and cut it in half length-wise to tape off opposite sides of the frame. If you do this, make sure you put the factory edge against the frame. I used an X-Acto knife to cut the end of the tape so it fit snuggly into the corner of the frame. Works like a charm!
2. Elevate frames on empty containers, and brush the first coat of paint on all sides of each frame.
Don’t worry too much about the back of the frame. Just make sure the paint wraps the back edge slightly…
Like this. If you paint like me, that won’t be a problem! 😉
3. Apply second coat of paint, and remove tape. TIP: Make sure you remove painter’s tape before second coat dries.
I recommend scoring each edge with the X-Acto knife before you remove the tape. This will cut through any paint that’s already dried and help prevent the paint from peeling off with the tape. Remove the tape slowly, and leave frames to fully dry. Even when they’re dry, the paint will still be soft, and will knick easily
4. Once frames are dry, touch up any spots where the paint got away on you! And trust me, this will happen.
I cleaned the glass first just to remove any random paint flecks, and then used a black felt Sharpie with a chisel tip for my touch ups. To keep the felt from marking the glass, place a small, thin piece of paper between the pen and the glass where you’re doing each touch-up.
My gallery find went from this…
And the whole set together looks like this!
I bet you’re dying to know where I’m hanging this little gallery, huh? I promise, there will be a reveal. Just not today! 😉
The thing to remember with a gallery presentation is it will generally be admired from afar. And that’s why I opted to do a quick brush of paint on the frames with the prints intact. The little flaws from this cheater approach won’t even be noticed. Normally I would remove the print, the glass, and all hardware. And then I would spray the frames for a smooth, even application of the paint. But in this case, seriously, would you pull all those little nails for that?
Thanks for stopping by!
Photographs by Sheila Zeller