I have been saving this brown frame since 1977 (the year my friends moved to California and I took up residence in their apartment).
I’ve lugged this old frame around for almost 40 years.
It’s beautifully carved wood. At one time the corners had been gessoed.
The frame had broken corner medallions.
After I removed the broken corners I realized that most of the gold leaf had worn off over the years.
Using a light hand and a small chisel I removed the gesso from the corners.
Using my mother’s go-to technique for cleaning old wood, I used mineral spirits on a rag and began to wipe the surface dirt from the frame.
Remarkably the gold was still in tact under the dirt.
Aha! The gold leaf was still there, just covered by decades of DIRT. After just one layer of cleaning in the above photo there is a distinctive difference between the dirty frame (on the left) and the clean frame (on the right). After going over the entire frame about six times with mineral spirits and changing to clean rags, it began to look downright “Belle Époque”.
Corner with gesso removed is bare woodtone.
I knew I couldn’t repair the corners like new so I worked up a not-quite-perfect but close-enough-for jazz method with materials I have on hand.
Clear Briwax and a small pot of Florentine gold wax.
I mixed gold Florentine wax (which had almost dried to a solid) with clear Bri-wax.
I mixed the gold wax with Briwax on a paper plate with a plastic spoon.
I rubbed this paste onto the corners with a latex-gloved finger.
The gold is not as beautiful as the gold leaf but it will suffice.
After letting it dry a bit I buffed the corners and the entire frame with a soft cotton rag.
A beautiful refurbished frame.
Et voila, a beautiful frame for a new project in the kitchen.
Before and after
Lately I’ve been using a lot of old things that I’ve held onto for eons. How about you?
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