REPAIRING PLASTER FRAMES
A few simple repairs, a coat of fresh paint and a coat of sealer can restore a shabby old plaster picture frame to its former beauty.
Old picture frames are often thrown away because of a shabby finish or a damaged moulding, while all they require to restore them to their former glory is cleaning repainting and resealing. Even missing sections of moulding can be replaced. If, however, you suspect your frame is a valuable antique,
seek professional advice before you begin restoration - you could cause irreversible damage.
Junk hops and markets sell all kinds of frames. Gesso frames are common made from plaster of Paris mixed with animal glue, gesso is often built up to form elaborate effects on a simple wooden frame. It can be polished to give an ebonized finish, which can become dull and chipped.
Cracks can be filled and chipped edges built up using all-purpose filler. Colours are easily restored with artists' paints, and a clear sealer will give
Small sections of moulding can be replaced on even the most elaborate of
frames. Repairs are made using a plasticine mould and new gesso or finest quality plaster of Paris (both available from art and craft shops), or fine surface all-purpose filler.
Conventional gilding using real gold leaf is still carried out by top framers
working for art galleries but this is extremely expensive. A good alternative is to use modern metallic paints or waxes (sold in specialist art and craft shops), which are less expensive and easier to apply. Some of these
paints can be burnished, and when sealed, last for many years.
Always seal bare gesso and plaster surfaces before gilding. Some ranges of paints include their own special sealer, while others may need shellac or primer;
check that the sealer you use is compatible with your paint.