Painting your own picture frames is an enjoyable way to customise frames to suit your special pictures or to compliment your existing decor. The following tips and ideas are designed to help you achieve great results for minimal effort:
Choosing Your Frames
The easiest frames to paint and customise yourself are natural untreated wooden ones. In the UK you buy these cheaply in multi-packs from budget shops like Wilkinsons and Poundstretcher so I'm sure there must be similar available in the US. Ideally you want a frame with a glass (or plastic) sheet front that pops out so you can remove it to keep it clean while you work. Plastic and thick cardboard frames can also work but do be sure any paint you buy is going to adhere to the material you choose.
Helpful Tips Painting Your Frame
* Masking tape can protect any areas you don't want getting covered in paint. If you can get the glass (or plastic) front cover sheet out of your frame then great but if not, cover it carefully with masking tape the same as you would a skirting board when painting a room. The little catches on the back of your frame will also need covering to make sure they get painted open; try folding a tab of tape around each catch then cut off the excess to ensure it doesn't get in your way.
* Use old newspaper to protect your work surface whilst painting and of course, paint your frame one side at a time. If you intend on hanging your frame on the wall, then of course it's not essential to paint the back of it so that's something to consider.
* The easiest paint to use for the base is poster paint applied using a thick brush for ease of application. If you want a professional glaze for your finished frame, try mixing 4 parts of paint with 1 part of PVA glue to give it a shine when dry.
* Lazy people might prefer to lay down their base colour using spray paint. I know I do! The beauty of spray paint is that you can often pick up gorgeous metallic sprays that are more lacquer than paint but for a similar price.
Useful Tricks Decorating Your Frame
* For defined shapes around your frames use spray paint and stencils. It's not cheating, it's being resourceful. Make sure your base is completely dry before you begin and use low-adhesive masking tape to protect around where you're going to spray without damaging the paint work.
* For neat lines and borders, again you can use masking in the same manner as above. If you lay two strips parallel to one another down the side of your frame with a small gap in between, all you need to do to paint a perfect line is clumsily sweep a paint brush over the top.
* Add extra sparkle to your finished frames by gluing little gem stones into your pattern. They look especially affective when used as centres for painted flowers.
Choose Your Theme
* Flowers are a popular choice as they compliment such a variety of photographs. The easiest flowers to paint by hand are "daisy designs". Paint a small circle then add five even sized petals around the edge. Of course it's much easier if you opt for a stencil!
* Animals are a great theme for embellishing frames that will hold children's photographs. If you want to make a frame extra special, try painting an animal onto a separate piece of card slightly bigger than the corner of your frame and securing it so it overlaps slightly. The best position for these add-ons is one of the bottom corners so it doesn't overshadow the focal point of your photograph too much.
* Colour Schemes that compliment the dcor of the room your frame will be hung in are a great way to cheaply and effectively liven up any room. If you can't find a colour that will necessarily compliment your dcor, try and get hold of a tester pot of gloss or paint in the same colour as you've painted your skirting boards. That way your frame is bound to fit right in.
* Cartoon Characters are another children's favourite though please do note that you can only get away with reproducing copyrighted images for personal use; you shouldn't try to sell on your handmade Disney frames! If you're not sure how to go about painting your child's favourite character then search the Internet for an image you can work from. If all else fails, stickers are a good compromise!
* Paint Your Feelings into your frame if you're giving it as a gift to someone. If you're creating a frame to hold a special picture for a loved one, what about surrounding your frame with different sized hearts? If there's an expression you know your good friend is fond of, why not paint it across the top or bottom of your frame? Taking a few minutes to think about the person you're painting your frame for is a sure-fire way to encourage inspiration to come calling.