Reverse Framing

Floral Painting Close Up

What do many of us involved in this blogging community have in common?  We enjoy thrifting.  We are willing to pay top dollar for things that we can’t do ourselves but if we can do it, fix it, beautify it ourselves, by God, we won’t pay someone else to do it for us.  It is the challenge and the opportunity to flex our creative muscles that keep us thrifting.  It’s fun.

This is going to be a rather short post but in the spirit of a true thrifter, I had something that needed to be shared.  Reverse framing.

 Empty Frames

 To this creative couple, a frame can be almost as important as the piece that it surrounds.  Frames are works of art in themselves and if we are open to it, we can find unbelievable frames for very little money.  So, reverse framing is exactly what you might think.  We look for frames that are unusual, inexpensive and artistic, we snatch them up and then we create an artwork that is appropriate to the frame.   Most people have the object that needs to be framed and will go out and buy a frame to suit, often paying top dollar.  Not this creative couple.  First of all, you will pass up some wonderful deals, but, more importantly, you will miss some wonderful opportunities for artistic expression.

An example –  Cathy purchased these three lovely frames from a yard sale for $3.  There were some really dated and unappealing prints in them that were laminated to a masonite backing.  I scraped off the old prints and painted a flower right over the old laminate.  The result is a lovely triptych that is beautiful when grouped together.

Set of Floral Paintings


Cathy picked up the frames because she liked them.  We painted and distressed them and I added a little artwork.  If you aren’t a painter there are plenty of other things that could go in there.  These would make lovely frames for old prints that could be scanned from an old magazine or graphics printed from the Internet.  Let your imagination run wild.

Another example.  I saw this frame in a thrift shop for $8 and I could not pass it up.

 Round Frame


I imagine that it originally held a mirror but I’m not sure.  Some of the detail was broken off and the finish was really bad.  Someone tried to fix the original gilt with some tacky gold paint and it looked really awful.  I didn’t care because I was going to distress it anyway.  Someone just helped it along.  I just know that I had to have it because it was lovely, unusual and inexpensive.  Score.   It sat in our stash for a couple of years until it was time to do something with it.  My friend David, cut a round panel for me to use as a canvas.  Now, what should I do?  What was the old frame telling me?

Round disc

I knew I wanted to paint florals but I also knew that a painting on a light background with pastel colored flowers would not work.  I needed the look and feel of age.  I wanted the artwork to work with the frame, not against it.  I decided on a background of browns and toned white using Raw Umber as a base color.  I also used this color to distress the frame adding unity to the whole.  I wanted the painting to look as if it always went with this old frame and this is where I ended up.


Rose Painting in Oval Frame
Floral Painting Close Up

To me, the frame is an equal player with the painting.  I went in a reverse process by finding the frame first and deciding what to put in to the frame next.  It gives us the opportunity to add some beautiful old and valuable frames to our collections.   Additionally, our customers love pieces that are framed well.  It makes such a difference.

For all of the non painters that are reading this, what could you have done with this frame?  How about a lovely wedding gift with a picture of the couple done in sepia tones  in this frame.  Wow.  Any of the large stores will print out large poster size pictures for relatively little money.  Try Staples, Costco etc.  I might also add this frame to my stash and look for a wonderful old print that would fit it perfectly.  They are out there crying to be displayed.  Again, let your creativity be your guide and think out of the box.  The results are beautiful and unusual.

Please come back and visit us soon,

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