The decorative frames that surround mirrors, photographs and paintings focus the eyes on something inside that is of great interest. Most often, however, the frame itself is an item of great beauty and interest. It is also an item which protects what it holds, but which itself can sustain damage. When a frame is damaged, that not only degrades its own appearance but also detracts from the beauty of the image it surrounds. It takes special skills to transform damaged frames so they can once again intensify the pleasure of seeing what is within.
Here we display a few examples of frames we have restored. Be forewarned, frame restoration is almost always costly. It is exacting and time consuming to carry out the detailed work required to bring these beautiful pieces back to life. However, we hope you also can see the value that is returned to these pieces once restoration is completed. If you have a decorative frame which is in need of a make over, we would love the opportunity to make it a piece to be admired once again.
The top photos left and right are the before photos. Unfortunately the focus and lighting on the photo to the right are not the greatest, but you get the idea--lots of damaged areas.
Below is an illustration of the repairs. The photo bottom left is the same part as in the photo immediate left. It is flipped upside down. In that bottom left photo, the damaged areas have all been filled with bondo and shaped to look correct. Immediately below you see the carving tools used to shape the bondo.
Bottom right is a photo of the frame with all the damaged parts colored to blend. Turned out well!
This was one of the more interesting frame restoration projects we have done. You can see at the bottom, the missing sections of this silvered frame. This was a very delicate section with a complex finish. Following are the steps we went through in restoring this frame. Not every frame restoration job is so involved, but when the details count, that's where we excel.
Here is the end result. The damaged area is at the top of this photo. In all the rest of the photos we display it at the bottom. Sorry to add confusion! However, we don't think there is anything confusing about the fact that this job turned out well!
Actually, there were numerous small areas on this frame which required restoration. We have chosen to document the major repair area alone.
Our first step was to remove the fractured sections of the decorative pattern and get to a point where the pattern repeated.
Next we glued blocks in place which would later support the decorative pattern. We also reproduced the line of the curve so that we would know where to cut off the excess blocking. This step is pictured above left.
The photo below left illustrates two steps. The first of those steps was to cut off the excess blocks at the line we marked out before. Next, relief holes in the blocking were cut out and then the wood platform was smoothed and readied for the decorative molding to be applied.
In the center of the lower left photo can be seen the bluish mold, above, and two sections of the decoration which were cast from that mold. We added silver flake to the casting medium so that the parts already are close to the final color needed.
Above right the new cast patterns have been set in place, very carefully so that there is not a discernable seam.
The final photo, below right, shows the frame with the final coloring and glazing completed. Ready to be used again!
The frame pictured here had been in a fire. When it got to us it was charred black in places and sooty all over. We cleaned off the soot and removed just enough of the charred areas without defacing the beautifully carved pattern. We then stained it overall with walnut crystals. This restored the original rich brown color. We went a bit darker actually, to disguise some of the remaining char. The final step in restoring this was to apply a few coats of shellac. For having been through a fire, this turned out looking very good again ad very much like it would have originally. One final note, the mirror is the original mirror, it had sustained no damage in the fire!
This is how this mirror frame came to us. It is hard to see all the damage. Lots of areas were weak, requiring re-gluing. The two tips upper left, also pictured to the right, had been filled previously but not shaped.
The first thing we did on these two prior repair attempts was to add to the filler to create a large enough area to carve back to the appropriate proportions. Then we did the coloring.
This is one of the many areas which had cracked. We first glued the crack solidly then filled and smoothed the crack before touching up the area to blend.
It is a bit difficult to see at first, but there is a section of the curve missing. It had been colored some time previously. We filled, shaped and recolored it. Can't tell it was ever missing.
Here is the mirror completed. Look closely and you can see the repaired areas illustrated on this page. You can see where the repairs were made, you just can't see the repairs!
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