Antique look for gold picture frames

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Forum topic by ferstler posted 06-06-2012 10:15 PM 4902 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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342 posts in 3484 days

06-06-2012 10:15 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question finishing rustic

My wife collects art, and to make her items look better I have made quite a few picture frames to hold them. Some are stained and clear coated and some are simply painted. However, one thing I have not been able to do is replicate the “antique” look I find with some of those certainly recently built, gold-finished frames one sees in various galleries.

I think that some of them actually have a plastic coating over them (initially done in China, with the boards then cut to size by the framing shop), with the required antique look, but some are obviously hand painted after the frame is assembled and have the appearance of being a whole lot older than they actually are.

I think that some may have an undercoating in a darker color, with gold paint sprayed over and then something like a fine brush or even a fine broom dragged down the length of the gold surface before the paint dries, giving the impression of aging lines. Others seem to be coated with a gold paint that actually cracks a bit as it dries.

Also, some seem to have a dull grey substance pushed into the various grooves and crevices that simulates old dust. This may be a special material that is mostly wiped off after spreading it onto the previously dried gold finish.

I would love to be able to do something like that, and if anybody here has some pointers I would be very appreciative.

Howard Ferstler

4 replies so far

View Lifesaver2000's profile


551 posts in 3076 days

#1 posted 06-10-2012 08:41 PM

I can’t answer all of your questions, but I have heard of a method of making the crackling look, and seen several examples of it on the internet. It involves using Elmer’s glue. Some of the methods I have seen involve mixing the glue with paint, but the method listed on Elmer’s site involves painting the object with one color, letting it dry, spreading on the glue then immediately painting with another color. As the glue and second paint dry, you get the crackle effect.

The methods is explained better here:

I haven’t done this myself, but since I also make frames (for the paintings my wife does) I have been looking at various finishing options also.

View lunn's profile


215 posts in 2272 days

#2 posted 06-10-2012 10:42 PM

Try a hobbie shop for trains. I once bought dirty gold paint to use on a antique frame. Matched great. All kinds of odd colors.

-- What started as a hobbie is now a full time JOB!

View ferstler's profile


342 posts in 3484 days

#3 posted 06-11-2012 04:32 PM

Thanks for the comments, people.

I finally decided to do something considerably different from a simple antiquing job. The frame had already been painted gold, and that gold just looked too shiny-new. Rather than start over, I just layered some Rustoleum “hammered” surface paint over the interior section (see top photo) and then hit that area with a reddish primer and then some paint with a rough surface texture, and then hit those with two spray coats of really dark brown, all done one right after the other. Blue masking tape was used to keep the gold protected. Then, after removing the masking tape, I hit the works with a flat-finish clear coat which dulled the whole works down. Most of the project was a hit or miss proposition, and I was prepared to build a while new frame if necessary. Fortunately, I got that store-bought frame looking satisfactory to my wife, with the gold subdued and somewhat aged looking and the brown central area looking 100 years old! The painting itself is a Venetian plaster item, with acrylic paint that itself looks vintage.

Before and after photos attached.

Howard Ferstler

View MNgary's profile


298 posts in 2381 days

#4 posted 06-13-2012 02:36 AM

When I was factory rep for a furniture wholesaler in the early 70’s, pumice was the dull grey substance pushed into the various grooves and crevices that simulates old dust. Unfortunately, I do not know the technique or process.

-- I dream of a world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

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