Before and After: What a Difference a Frame Makes

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There’s good art and bad art, but sometimes that depends on the eye of the beholder and sometimes it depends on context. Sometimes good art can seem like bad art, in the wrong environment, or in this case in the wrong frame.

Buying original art can be expensive, which is one of the many reasons I love to look for vintage original art at flea markets, thrift stores, etc. But you have to be willing to look beyond the frame and concentrate on the art itself. I bought a number of vintage pieces for a client, a few pieces were good enough to go straight on the wall, but most needed reframing in order to be transformed.

Check out these two pastels in blond wood with matching colored mats.  They scream cheezy 80’s, but look at how each gets a complete makeover and is brought back to life with completely different approaches.

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What about this piece?  The frame wasn’t hideous, just a bit chipped, but the frame was so thick it made the piece feel so heavy.  With the new frame the art breathes.

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Lastly, here is a delicate watercolor I found at a salvage yard.  The frame and mat were actually in great condition, but the feel was so “granny”. By reframing the painting in a simple gilded frame we were able to elevate it to a chic painting which highlights the painter’s gentle brushstrokes.

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Wouldn’t you say these pieces were all completely transformed through framing?  So, next time you look at a pile of discarded art, concentrate on the art, not the frame.

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Kat Wachter - I am a huge fan of thrift store/ yard sale art! Everytime I’m at the thrift store, I check out the art. You’re absolutely right – look at the art, not the frame. I would add: you can also look at the frame and ignore the art. I’ve found great frames that I’ve recycled for other pieces. Basically I think you just need to look at the pieces individually, rather than as a whole.

I’ve also discovered that it’s really easy to take apart a piece of art, and change both the mat and the frame (spray paint!), to make a custom piece that works for you. I’ve spray painted so many mats and frames! It surprised me the first time I spray painted a mat (it was a bit of a why-not?), but they take paint really well.

isadorag - Hey Kat,
Thanks for stopping by. You’re so right, sometimes you can find great frames with bad art… or even frames with no art. I have a whole collection of vintage gilded frames in my garage waiting for an opportunity to be reused. Here’s to seeing through the ugly to find the hidden beauty.

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