A DIY: Hand distressed painted picture frames

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about going to the Ruby Rhino Furniture painting workshop and all the inspiration and confidence it gave me to get on with a DIY painting project that I have in mind, (coming soon to the blog!) While we were there we also were allowed to paint a photo frame that we then took away with us to practice our technique and Hannah has very kindly allowed me to share a brief overview of what is involved. I’m pretty proud of mine!

I chose to ‘distress’ mine as it was my favourite look, but this was of course only 1 of several techniques we mastered on the day.

So here is how you could make something similar for your home, with thanks to Hannah and her Dad at Ruby Rhino for showing me the techniques.

1. First, take your chosen frame and give it a very light sand over to give the paint a ‘key’ (otherwise known as a bit of grip!) The paints we were using actually didn’t require this but I think it’s good advice for most projects, it certainly won’t do any harm.

When you are ‘distressing’ a piece, you remove a top layer of paint to show either a contrasting colour underneath, or perhaps to reveal the actual wood. In my case I wanted to have another paint colour coming through so I started with my base colour of mid-grey and gave it a single coat all over the frame.

2. After allowing it to dry, you then rub a piece of candle all over the frame, concentrating on the areas that would naturally get the most wear to make the distress look authentic – think about the corners and any raised parts of your frame. This is where your first coat of paint will eventually show through. Be liberal!

3. Next, apply a second coat of your contrasting paint – this will be the colour of the final piece and I chose a deep turquoise blue.

5. Once the top coat has dried, take a piece of light sand paper and start to buff off some of your top coat, gently revealing the colour underneath. This takes time and don’t go too heavily – or you’ll go straight through to the wood. Take it slowly and keep standing back to look at it and decide where it needs more distressing. Most importantly – know when to stop!

6-7. Once you are happy with the effect you have created, apply a layer of soft clear furniture wax all over the piece and allow to dry. Once dry, buff it off with a soft cloth, to seal your paint effect.

And voila!

The print you see here in the frame is by Brighton based photographer Cassia Beck on Etsy that Hannah sells in her shop. I decided to fill the frame there and then, as it’s often had to find something that suits once you get home and the photographs were beautiful – see more here.

Do let me know if you have any questions and thanks once again to Hannah from Ruby Rhino. I’d highly recommend the course if you have a project to plan, if only to give you the confidence to tackle to job!


Out and About: Ruby Rhino Furniture painting workshop

Edited 10.53: News just in! Hannah is offering an excluisve Florence Finds discount for readers booking the workshops at a special price of £95. (Normal price £110) Just mention Florence Finds when booking!

This weekend I headed down to Lichfield for the Ruby Rhino furniture painting workshop run by Hannah and her Dad. I had initially booked it because I’m always seeing courses that I think would be nice to go on with my Mum for a bit of a mother/daughter bonding, but they’re often on things I’m not really interested in. This however is something I love, I’m a firm believer in DIY as a tool for giving your home a really individual touch. I’ve also jazzed up a few bits at home myself already as when stencilling was all the rage my Mum and I painted quite a few bits of furniture using various techniques, so I thought I could bring my skills up to date.

The workshop was held in a little unit in The Heart of the Country shopping village and immediately set the tone, beautifully dressed with Ruby Rhino furniture pieces and other complimentary items for sale. There were only 6 of us on the course which was great, loads of time for questions and addressing individual concerns after we got to know each other over coffee and biscuits!

Hannah’s Dad has been using various paint techniques for most of his career and so shared the teaching with her. We started off talking about choosing your pieces, where to find them and what to look for, then how to prepare them and various finishes.

We all had pieces of wooden skirting board to practise the techniques on and used hairdryers to speed up the drying time so we could apply multiple layers and effects. We went through getting a fine flat finish and waxing to seal and finish the piece, then various decorative techniques including distressing, crackling, using colour washes and coloured waxes. All this was punctuated by lunch which was provided by Hannah’s Mum and some delicious brownies made by Hannah!

The final project was to paint a picture frame that we took home with us and I was so proud of mix – look out for the DIY how to coming soon on Florence Finds. (You can see my Mum proudly displaying hers in the picture above!)

I had such a great day and I would highly recommend it if you have a project in mind or just need some ideas, inspiration and encouragement to up cycle and redecorate your home on a budget.

Thanks Hannah!


For more information on the Ruby Rhino workshops including upcoming dates, please click the link.

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