Yesterday in stories I went down to a local thrift store and picked up a few antique frames for some projects we are working on. I shared the process of how we shop for frames, and what we look for to determine whether or not they are antique… today I am sharing all of that information here including where we like to shop for frames and a roundup!
Get the Look
Where to Shop
Local thrift stores, antique stores, markets and estate sales are likely going to be the most budget-friendly. For example, below is a photo of yesterday’s haul from a local thrift store… all which cost me $14!
But, if you don’t have any places near you to shop or you just don’t have the time, I recommend searching on Ebay, Etsy, and Charish. It takes a bit of time but you will likely always find a gem! Use keywords like ‘vintage frame, vintage frame lot, vintage frames, antique wood frames, antique gilt frame, antique frame lot…’ when searching.
What to Look For
Determine the material. Tap on the frame to see whether or not it seems to be constructed of solid wood or if it is more hollow sounding and could be a combination of wood, particle wood, plastic… We like to purchase either solid wood frames or wood and plaster frames.
Examine the back. Look at the hardware- does it appear to be new or old? Are there nails or staples? Has any oxidation occurred? If the backside of the frame has a nice patina, this is a clear indication that the frame is older from years of oxidation.
Look at the corners. Are the corners joined using brace plates or nails or are they joined with v-shaped staples? Antique frames will be joined with either brace plates or nails while v-shaped staples are more commonly used by framers today. We also note whether or not there is any separation in the corners. If separation has started, the frame can waver which will be difficult when it comes time to add your artwork.
Below are examples of frames being joined with brace plates and nails.
Here is an example of old vs new hardware. I knew the frame on the right had new hardware but I could tell it wasn’t original to the frame and was recently installed since the backside of the frame had a nice patina and you could see different layers from previous backing. The frame on the left and bottom both have original hardware still installed- rusty nails and old wires.
Keep an Open Mind
You can always switch out the art – If you find a frame that you love but it has art in it, don’t let that deter you! I purchased the vertical frame with the grapevine art in it knowing I would replace the art with something original and modern like this piece.
Don’t like the color of the frame? Try adding Rubn’Buff to it! There are plenty of frames that we have purchased that were either too orange/gold or bright gold and we applied European Gold Rubn’Buff to it to tone down the saturated golds.
No glass? Not all artwork requires glass, you can read this post for how we determine when to use glass or when to not.