By the Practical Artist
Refinishing Frames The first thing you are going to need is an outdoor workspace. Refinishing frames is messy, and the materials used need good ventilation. You may also want to invest in a folding table that can be put up when not in use.
To repair a wooden frame you will need, shop rags, a box knife, painters tape, small can of wood putty, a hammer, screwdriver, small woodscrews, finish nails, glue, wood stripper, paint or stain (probably both), sandpaper (both fine and coarse), a putty knife or plastic scraper, and sponges and brushes for applying the stripper, stain or paint and clear wood varnish. Gloves to protect your hands from the paint stripper and a mask for the fumes are also going to be needed. You may not use all of these; it depends on the type of repairs you are planning to do to the frame.
To repair a metal frame, you will need ), shop rags, sandpaper (both fine and coarse), metal primer, a mask to protect yourself from paint fumes, protective goggles, several cans of spray metal paint (matte finish) and can of clear metal varnish. Gloves to protect your hands from the paint are also going to be needed.
REPAIR & REFURBISHING
Metal Frame: begin by taking the glass or plexi out of the frame and setting it aside in a safe place. You will be re-using it so make sure you put it somewhere it won’t be damaged while you are working. Remove any backing or hanging system attached and examine the frame carefully. Sand out any rust spots using the coarse sandpaper and follow up by smoothing with the fine sandpaper. Depending on the deepness of the scratches you may elect to use either grade of sandpaper to smooth out any scratches. Wipe the frame to remove any excess dust left over from sanding. Lay the frame out flat and spray with primer using a side-to-side motion allow to dry and repeat until completely covered. Do NOT rush this process. Applying too many coats of paint too fast will cause it to run! Allow the primer to dry overnight and repeat process with the metal paint using the same technique on the 2nd day. The next day you may apply the clear varnish. On the fourth day you can replace the glass or plexi into frame and Wallah! You have a ready to use frame!
Wood Frame: begin by removing any canvas, hanging hardware and leftover backing paper from the frame. Do any repair work requiring nails or screws and then cover the linen mat with the painters tape, cutting off any excess tape in the corners with the box knife. Remove any sharp edges on the front of the frame by sanding them smooth. If you plan to re-stain the frame, follow the directions on the wood stripper for removing the varnish. This will cause the wood to swell a little bit. Let it dry overnight and then touch up with the sandpaper. Wipe the frame clean of any sanded residue, fill any cracks or holes with wood putty you have prepped by adding the stain to match the color (if you are going to paint over it, it isn’t necessary to prep the wood putty with color). Wipe off any excess stain and allow it to dry overnight (staining may also cause the wood to swell). The next day smooth over any raised edges left over from the stain before applying the coat of clear varnish. Allow the varnish to set overnight. If you have painted the frame you can skip this step, although the extra varnish coat will provide some protection, it will also tend to show scratches later. You are now ready to repair the mat.
The Linen Mat: remove the painters tape from the mat and apply new strips of tape to the newly varnished or painted frame. If there is a dark stain, you may want to apply a small mixture of household bleach to the stain before repainting it. Once the stain is gone, rinse off the bleach with a soft sponge and allow the linen to dry. If the mat is torn use a small amount of glue and press it down firmly, making sure there are no lumps of glue left.
To paint the linen mat I find that Acrylic paints work best. After selecting your color (I prefer either Unbleached Titanium or Parchment) Thin and extend acrylic paint with a textile medium or water. Many artists prefer to a water-soluble medium to produce a smoother finish to the final product. You want the paint to be thin but not runny. Using a small brush, lightly apply several coats of this mixture to the linen mat, allowing to dry between coats. Once you are satisfied with the color remove the painters tape from the wood part of the frame and you are ready to frame your art.