Skillz: Picture Framing

We inherited most of the furniture and art in our house, which means that it’s all old and sentimental. Actually, that could be said of our house itself. Hm.

Anyhoo, we have a lot of framed art that is starting to show its age. Among these are four watercolors of the beach painted by Jacksonville artist Eula Bull. Her daughter was friends with my mom, and Ms. Bull gave my mother the watercolors in the late 1960s or early 1970s. They hung in the hall near my bedroom in my childhood home. When we moved them here, I hung them in our bedroom. They helped with the serene feel and watercolor palette I was hoping to cultivate. (<— That statement was 90% fancier than reality.)

The pictures were soothing, the frames were fine, but the mats were looking a little decrepit.

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At first I considered caving to the barrage of Framebridge ads and having the pieces re-framed in a quasi-professional manner. But a simple frame and mat was estimated to cost $70, times four, and I am not in the mood to pay $280 to change the mats on free watercolors.

Many, many Pinterest posts encourage a DIY enthusiast to “pick up frames at Goodwill” for re-purposing. But most of these projects turn the frame into something else – a tray, or a chalkboard thingy, or a photo display. I could not find a tutorial on re-using a picture frame….as a picture frame.

I decided to roll up my sleeves and take a crack at it. WITHOUT A PINTEREST TUTORIAL. I know.

Here’s my arsenal of re-framing tools:

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Self-healing mat & ruler, pliers, glass cleaner, razor knife, pencil, and tape.

First I unwound the hanging wire from one side of the frame, and laid it to the side.

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Next, I cut away the paper backing on the frame. Using a razor knife, I (carefully!) slashed the paper along the edges and pulled it away. This was the only part of the frame I did not re-use.

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This was underneath. It’s a layer of cardboard held in place by little metal teeth. I pulled the cardboard out next.

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Under that was a piece of mat board, the watercolor, and two more mat boards. I removed each layer.

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To get the glass out, I had to remove the little metal teeth with pliers. It turned out they were diamond-shaped pieces of metal that were wedged into the wood frame. I’m sure they have a fancy name, but I shall continue to call them teeth. I took out the teeth on the top and sides of the frame, and put them aside.

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I pulled the glass out and cleaned it. Then I got to work on the new mat.

I purchased a 32″ x 40″ piece of off-white mat board for $8.00. NATURALLY, the mats I needed were 16.5″ x 20.5″, which means instead of getting four mats out of one board, I could only get two. Grrrr.

Using the old mat as a template, I cut out my pieces. Then I measured the inside of the old inner (blue) mat to get the opening, which was 10.5″ x 14.5″. I marked the lines on the back of the new mat, using my fancy ruler and a pencil, then used the razor knife to slowly cut the mat board. Straight lines are stressful! It took me three passes to get through the mat board.

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Moment of truth: I put the old mat on top of the new one, to show how dingy it had gotten over the last 50 years. Bear in mind that the new mat is not white, but cream-colored! Yikes!

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With the new mat cut, it was time for re-assembly.

First the sparkly clean glass went in.

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Next, I taped the watercolor to the back of the new mat board and put that in.

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Then the cardboard, to make sure everything was secure.

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I couldn’t get a picture of the next step,  because it required two hands, but I re-inserted some of the metal teeth along the sides and top. Last, I re-strung the wire and hung it back on the wall.

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A watercolor with the original mat is on top; mine is on the bottom. So much fresher! And cleaner-looking!

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I re-matted a second picture the following day, and (no surprise here) the process took about half the time.

It will cost me $16.00 and a couple of hours to re-do all four, and I’ll have plenty of extra mat board to frame (or re-frame) other art. VICTORY IN OUR TIME.

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Skillz: Picture Framing

  1. I’ve heard of things called “glazing points” and I wonder if your little metal teeth are those.

    • Windy Taylor

      A quick Google search confirms that similar pieces are called “glazing points” or “glazier’s points,” but mine are shaped differently than others I’ve seen. They’re flat and diamond-shaped. Good to know!

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