Before I wreck these old picture frames to re-purpose them....

StixStudiosArt

Grumbler in Training
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Melbourne, Australia
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Stix Studios Art
Hey guys. My first post here. Apologies if this post goes off track a bit :beer:

I'm an artist. I do reverse-glass/mirror pieces which includes painting, gilding, glue-chipping, etching etc.

The artwork I make doesn't fit standard size frames and at this point I can't justify having my artwork professionally framed (maybe in the future) so I thought I'd have a go at making my own frames. I have a hand mitre saw and hand disc sander, and a small router table. I don't need to make many so I'm happy to just plod along and enjoy the process.

This is an example of the sort of artwork I'm creating - I'm trying to create and old-ish vibe - it's also my first frame (outer: 35cmW x 25cmH) I used crap cypress pine from the local hardware store and did a woeful job staining and waxing it (mitres are pretty good though 😜). I reckon the frame is way too bulky, but nevertheless in the end I think it still works ok.
JD Frame Glass Artwork_Final v3.jpg


So, I thought it might be easier to just get some old used frames from thrift stores, fb marketplace etc. then just cut them up to suit. Oldish and used frames do tend to suit the type of artwork I'm creating. Glue-chipped and gilded glass advertising signs were all the rage in the early 1900's (before prohibition?).

Anyway, finally.... I picked up these two old frames the other day. I was told they were 'Edwardian' about 100yrs old. The frames are exactly what I was looking for. No need to paint, just a wax? or something and leave all the dings and blemishes there. They are 'actual' paintings but unsigned - I don't like the weird style.

I was just about to go out to the garage to cut the corners off, but I thought I may as well ask here just in case they might be worth preserving.

Edwardian Frame Both Front.jpg

Edwardian Frame Front bottom.jpg

The frames are approx. 30x70cm (outer).

The frame molding doesn't sit flat - it's on an angle (maybe 10deg. off horizontal) weird. I can't use the frame like that so I'll need to cut off the corners and re-mitre them when flat and cut to size accordingly. The fillets are painted gold - no tell-tail gilding leaf lines. The bent nails at the back are certainly old - so are the tacks.

Edwardian Frame back.jpg

Edwardian Frame_rear top corner profile.jpg


Thanks in advance for any thoughts, ideas, discussions - constructive or otherwise. I'm hoping that in the future I'll be selling enough artwork to enable me to leave the framing up to professionals.

Cheers, Steve K.
 
Welcome to the Grumble.

The lost art of "signwriting". As an original member of the Society of Gilders in the US. I never tried that avenue of gilding.

My first comment is that you have to plan ahead by using standard size pieces of glass from the beginning design phase of any new projects. Saving non-standard items and placing them into a new project is a different matter.
As many of the experienced picture framers will sometimes say..... "how cheap do you want your project to look". As an artist, you have spent considerable time to learn and produce a product with unique properties in todays world. Your time is your livelihood and form of expression.

You should want to display your wares in the best manner possible so that it can be enjoyed by your customers. There is a difference between a simple frame and a cheap frame. A simple frame doesn't have to always be cheap. You can increase your income with better frames for your work.
 
Those two 'paintings' are what is known in the trade as 'Potboilers'. No real value. They did
a lot of old carp even back then. 😅

Love the JD frame. The design is spot-on. You could try distressing the wood. a bit. Knock off
some of the sharp edges and introduce a few dings and dents.

As for cutting down the old frames.... By all means have a go. You'll learn a lot. Stuff of that vintage usually
uses ropey old timber. Watch out for embedded rusty nails/points.
 
Hi, Stix. Welcome to the Grumble! :)

Here are a few thoughts, and feel free to keep whatever works. First is, it's fine to use vintage frames, but they need to look good.
There's a range of appeal, and while it's fine to use something with a bit of distress, it still needs to be attractive. We've had some
artists bring frames in to sell on consignment, in such awful frames, with big scratches or dents. It can keep someone from buying
an otherwise lovely piece of art, and I've had to ask for better. At the same time, vintage can be nice. With the two shown here,
the one at right seems fine. The one has me wanting to touch up the eye traps at left center. (Also, be aware that if you ever use
a pen to touch up, Sharpies aren't good. They look black, but later turn purple. Also, not permanent. Micron Pigma pens are better,
and there are surely others.)

Agreed, that these paintings aren't worth anything. Whoever painted them did the same scene ten million times, and it shows.
That said, there's a trend nowadays, of adding funny things to exactly such paintings. Anything from Bigfoot to UFO's, and
a local artist might have fun adding something to these. So, rather than tossing, maybe remove and donate them to thrift?

Lastly, I really like your first frame, too. The glass painting is so pretty that I find myself wishing it showed up a bit
more. What do you have as the backing that shows through. Foam core?
 
The angled backs on the frames are going to cause you some problems. They don't fit into a standard vise very well so cutting and rejoining will be difficult. Are they joined with nails or is there metal splines in the corners?
 
Welcome to the G!

I would be worried about 'hidden surprises' in the existing frames when cutting them down. So thread carefully. Another thing you can consider, is finding a framer who would be willing to sell you length moulding. You can do the cutting and joining yourself but you would not be as limited as finding vintage frames and make it fit the art.
Some framers might not do this, but it is worth exploring.

Or continue creating your own frames as in first post but use better wood. Try out different finishing techniques. It is always nicer to be able to control the whole process
 
Have you taken the frames apart? What appears as an integrated sightline lip could well be a separate slip frame. The amount exposed is a bit irregular for a one-piece frame.
That would allow for a refinish on the slips, possibly matching the sign's karat leaf.
The fact that the back of the frame (part between the face and the foot, AKA the side) is not perpendicular to the foot may be a deliberate part of the design. The main concern is that the foot is flat against the bed of the saw.
 
Welcome to the Grumble.

The lost art of "signwriting". As an original member of the Society of Gilders in the US. I never tried that avenue of gilding.

My first comment is that you have to plan ahead by using standard size pieces of glass from the beginning design phase of any new projects. Saving non-standard items and placing them into a new project is a different matter.
As many of the experienced picture framers will sometimes say..... "how cheap do you want your project to look". As an artist, you have spent considerable time to learn and produce a product with unique properties in todays world. Your time is your livelihood and form of expression.

You should want to display your wares in the best manner possible so that it can be enjoyed by your customers. There is a difference between a simple frame and a cheap frame. A simple frame doesn't have to always be cheap. You can increase your income with better frames for your work.
Thanks JFeig.

Thanks for your comment. I appreciate that using standard sizes would help me and make it all easier. But that's not my reality. I pick up old mirrors and glass - from thrift stores, sometimes from the side of the road.

In this instance, I cut an old wardrobe mirror glass in half which meant the the width is 308mm which I then scaled my existing artwork to fit. My way is to make the frame later to suit the artwork. Yep, sure it causes problems, but it gives me freedom in other areas - not easy. That's why I bought these old frames - to fit to my artwork, not the other way around. Cheers.
 
Those two 'paintings' are what is known in the trade as 'Potboilers'. No real value. They did
a lot of old carp even back then. 😅

Love the JD frame. The design is spot-on. You could try distressing the wood. a bit. Knock off
some of the sharp edges and introduce a few dings and dents.

As for cutting down the old frames.... By all means have a go. You'll learn a lot. Stuff of that vintage usually
uses ropey old timber. Watch out for embedded rusty nails/points.

Thanks Prospero. That's nice to know. It's interesting to learn about that they did mass reproduction shitty paintings like that 100 years ago!😊

So when you mention "You could try distressing the wood. a bit." do you mean the frame around my JD artwork? If so, then yeah, that would work but not know - best left alone and move on. Cheers.
 
The angled backs on the frames are going to cause you some problems. They don't fit into a standard vise very well so cutting and rejoining will be difficult. Are they joined with nails or is there metal splines in the corners?
The angled backs on the frames did cause me problems. So I used high density foam on each side in the vise before cutting. If the frame was damaged by clamping, then no big deal anyway because there's plenty of frame left. The corners are joined with nails - they go into the wood more than I thought and I hit one of them, but all good. Cheers.
 
Welcome to the G!

I would be worried about 'hidden surprises' in the existing frames when cutting them down. So thread carefully. Another thing you can consider, is finding a framer who would be willing to sell you length moulding. You can do the cutting and joining yourself but you would not be as limited as finding vintage frames and make it fit the art.
Some framers might not do this, but it is worth exploring.

Or continue creating your own frames as in first post but use better wood. Try out different finishing techniques. It is always nicer to be able to control the whole process
Thanks Ylva. Yep, I did hit a nail but all good. Unfortunately I can't find a framer that is willing to sell me sticks. Fair enough. At this point I simply can't justify the expense of having my artwork framed professionally 0 I just can't. But as time moves on, if I sell a few pieces, then that situation may become a reality. Honestly, that's the position I'd prefer to be in. Do my artwork, then talk to a professional and have many options to choose from. I'm not there yet though. Cheers.
 
I completely understand and too bad you can't find a framer who is willing to sell you sticks. I do that for some artists, on request (I am not advertising that) and in the end, they turn into full custom framing customers.

A good frame will sell your art even better, so keep that in mind
 
I've taken the frames apart. wpfay mentioned that there could be a 'slip frame'. Yep that's 100% correct.

JD mirror painted gold fillet thingy.jpg


I'd like to use it, but the antique gold look clashes with the real gold leaf. I do like the 'cracked' paint. If I could use it, it would look great. I could use silver wax to re-colour it. Dunno. In any case, using the slip frame will cause other issues:

JD mirror - frame profile+fillet.jpg


The 'slip frame' takes up most of the space in the rebate (rabbit?). The original painting was done on thin card. I've got to abandon the slip frame in order to insert my glass.
JD mirror - frame profile+glass.jpg


Even so, because of the original non-standard weird angle that the frames were cut, I'll have to route out the existing profile to ensure the outer lip of the frame is flush with the glass. Doable with my router table, but wish I didn't have to.

Someone mentioned what the background is on my artwork. I've posted a better image. What you see is a mirror. Parts of the back of mirror have been sandblasted away to reveal the clear glass. Some of that clear glass has been painted black. The outer frame has been applied with animal hide glue. When the glue dries, it ripps up the glass leaving patterns. Fern-like structures, Icebergs, Coffee Beans, Canyons, Squished mushrooms...etc... a random process. The glue-chipped glass is then gilded with 23ct gold leaf. It looks amazing in real life. This process was developed and used in advertising banners in the late 1800's up until 1930's I think.

I'm doing this to help bring back the craft, well not bring back, but to give homage to those older crafts-people and the techniques that are no longer here. Cheers.

JD mirror 23ct gold leaf gild over glue-chipped glass.jpg
 
I completely understand and too bad you can't find a framer who is willing to sell you sticks. I do that for some artists, on request (I am not advertising that) and in the end, they turn into full custom framing customers.

A good frame will sell your art even better, so keep that in mind
Well I hope I'll end up being one of those customers. Well not your customer because you are in the US. Anyway, I must plod on and use what I have.
 
Using vintage frames somehow seems appropriate with the art.
Save the slips, they may fit the next frame.
 
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