How to Distress a New Frame and Make it look 100 Years Old.....

.... ish. But this is What I did. And it isn't always pretty. So if you don't like the thought of your frame being thrown on the ground to achieve a desired effect. Stop reading here. 


Why would you want to make a frame look as though it was falling apart. You might ask and be well within your right because it does sound a bit mad.

However as mentioned in an earlier post- my latest challenge is to make appropriate works which will authentically reflect the original art works and the space the works will be hung in. Therefore this classic frame, which you may recognise cropping up many times before, is being used here to Frame an ‘old Map of Cupar’.

Map of cupar


The inspiration for the model originally came from an old frame owned by the customer who wanted to frame many of his artworks in a similar style so they fitted in together. In style. and in time. As all the art works were from the same era. When placed into these hand finished/ hand- battered frames, they take on a new life. Timeless. Old and worn. Perfectly made to fit shabby-chic.

What struck me about the original was how much it appeared to be ‘falling apart’. The corners of the frames were gaping and the wood itself was chipped away, revealing a an almost scarred under-layer, of a brighter hue.

So taking the lead from this frame, I used a similar cut moulding which I finished in Tanners Brown* before drawing it back at the edges. Thinking of the original frame- which as I mentioned had particularly wide spaces at the corners; I squeezed the frame together, putting pressure on the corners and drew the inside edges back – revealing a gap at the inside corner (pictured).

Frame Detail


To add further distress the frame was knocked about a bit to create authentic bumps and scratches which would arrive naturally through time. The which was wood revealed through drawing back, (distressing and pressuring) was stained a brighter hue using wood stain. Then finished with a double coat of Shellac varnish. The end result is still too pristine to recall the original, however it matches as close as possible without being many years old- and infact- falling apart.

And in fact it is a much loved finish now.

Frame corner.jpg

Images of complete works to follow....