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How-To: A Little Decoration Goes a Long Way


A Little Decoration Goes a Long Way

by Janean S. Thompson


Why settle for the same old photo frame or picture frame for your home or office? Why not create a great frame that will complement the photo or art and be unique? It is very easy to do whether you are a seasoned veteran with airbrushing or a beginner.

You will need to gather some basic materials in order to complete this project. Select a frame that is unfinished or has a finish that can be easily sanded to give the surface some “tooth” or grip for the painted surface. My choice for demonstration purposes is a small photo frame that has a dry, out-of-date finish.


This is perfect for the repeated layers of color that will be applied and the paint will grip nicely to this surface. (Photo 1) If you choose a frame that is already painted, use fine sandpaper to remove most of the paint or at least rough up the surface. Slick surfaces do not hold paint well and allow the finish to be easily damaged.

When you are ready for finish work, assemble the other items you will need. My faithful standby choice for airbrush and air supply are the Iwata Revolution HP-CR 4500 and Smart Jet Compressor; acrylic paints; cleaning station for quick color changes; and a flat bristle paint brush.


The frame should be elevated slightly above the work surface so that all sides and edges can be evenly painted. (Photo 2) Airbrushes have the unique ability to cover in a smooth, even layer so that no application marks or other texturing shows. This gives a perfect finish to any project you complete. Plan to use at least three light layers of paint. Final topical coloration for textures or ridges on the frame could be added with a flat bristle brush, if desired.

(Photo 3) After you have elevated the frame, apply your base coat and allow it to dry. Apply coats two and three, drying between each layer. When you are finished, you can add topical interest by dry brushing some textural elements along the outer edges. This can be done with a brightly contrasting color, a soft metallic tone or perhaps a complementary color. Since you are creating this frame you can choose what you want.


When tackling a larger frame, one tip is to work very cautiously, applying paint in very thin layers so that you do not over spray and create drips or runs. The look you are striving for will be built up, so don’t hurry the process. Again, you should plan on at least three coatings to achieve an even look.

Topical additions can be done in the same manner on large frames as on small ones. Textures really pop out when they are applied over a solid surface. Dry brushing these colors will yield great results. (Photo 4) If you have a heavily textured frame, you might want to try an antiquing technique. Do this by applying very fluid paint over the three base coats. While this color is still fluid, wipe off almost all of it. What remains in all crevices or patterns will add great interest to the frame.


Try this fun project soon and you’ll see how simple these frames are to complete. Whether you recycle old frames, buy new ones, or simply want to tie your frames and décor together, you can do it! When grouped on a wall or shelf, these look great. (Photo 5) They create a decorating center point and draw the eye. Because they are simple and fast to complete, they make great gifts for friends and family, too.

Reprinted with permission of ARTtalk.com


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Iwata Medea is the wholesale distributor of Iwata, Medea and Artool products in North and South America, and the UK, and does not sell directly to customers at this time. To purchase Iwata Medea or Artool products, please check our dealer pages for a reseller near you. Or call our customer service team at 503-253-7308 ext. 2000, and we’ll help you find a local reseller.