Treasure in the Basement- Crafting Vintage Frames Part I

If I could write a whole post on my Super, I swear you would all be entertained for days, but alas this is a wedding blog so it wouldn’t make sense. I’ll just give you a quick bit of back-story.

My Super is a crazy-this-should-be-a-sitcom stereotype of a NYC super. She is a BIG lady who wears long skirts every single day with crazy mismatched sweaters and t-shirts, has a thick Polish accent, says things I can barely interpret, and is super protective of “her” building. She also hoards the crap people leave behind when they move and then sells it. So, there is ALWAYS something weird/old/used/potentially useful to buy when I trek down to the basement to do my laundry.

I walked downstairs one day and VOILA – two old ass HUGE frames.


Personal Photo

I asked her how much money she wanted for them, and she said 5 dollars (she thought I meant for one). I told her I wanted both so I gave her ten bucks and called it a day.

I was worried about spending too much on antiquey large frames. They are actually pretty pricey if you check out places like Etsy, and I’m not much into trekking around antique shops/craft stores to find the right frame. I’d rather spend my weekend going for unlimited mimosa brunches or vegging out with my DVR.

Now comes the hard part. How does an idiot crafter turn those puppies into something like this?


Image via Bella Fiori

I’m thinking of keeping the gold one as it is and spray painting the other one a charcoal color. The gold one has glass, but no back, and I’m contemplating using it for a seating chart. The charcoal one I will somehow turn into a chalkboard. Since I’m a crafting idiot I would love some suggestions on how I could best accomplish this. I’m thinking of buying something (plywood?) as the backer and painting it with chalkboard paint. Then do I attach the backer with wood glue? Nail it in? Will that crack the frame? I guess this will require taking measurements. Things involving numbers—not my fav.

Should be some interesting times ahead involving me cursing, muttering under my breath, and throwing things around. Any vintage frame crafters out there with fool-proof tips?


Mrs. Porcupine

NYC/Lancaster, PA
Wedding Date:
March 2012
Raise Your Glass - Booze and Bars
Centerpiece Mock-Ups
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  1. Member
    vintagemodernbride 437 posts, Helper bee @ 6:35 am

    those frames are great! can’t wait to see how your diy project turns out :)

  2. Guest Icon Guest
    Rachel G., Guest @ 6:37 am

    I would suggest masonite from Home Depot. Bring the frame there, explain to a sales associate what you’d like to do. They’ll help you measure the frame and then cut the masonite for you. Then prime the masonite (check the oops section if you don’t have any), spray it with a nice coat of chalkboard spray paint from Michaels. Use crazy glue or wood glue to attach it to the frame. Good luck!

  3. Member
    poelette13 75 posts, Worker bee @ 6:41 am

    Awesome frames, and your post could not be more timely for me!

    During last night’s bout of insomnia I made my escort card ribbon boards a la Martha Stewart ( using 2 old frames I’ve been saving for years. Like other bees, I opted for Elmer’s foam board, which was easily cut to size with an exacto knife. I just used wrapping paper to cover mine. I love your idea of the chalkboard paint/menu board. You could also use the frame with the glass as a dry-erase board, and just use the marker directly on the glass??

    Check the back of the frames – they may have some tacks in place to hold artwork in (mine did). If not, I’m sure the frame department in any craft store sells them.

    Can’t wait to see how things turn out for you!

  4. mspony Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 7:07 am

    We used plywood for one of our frames and it worked, but it wasn’t nearly as smooth as a regular chalkboard, just fyi. Great find on the frames!

  5. elk Member
    elk 320 posts, Helper bee @ 8:02 am

    i’m jealous these frames were so easy for you to find! I walked into my parents basement the other day and found NOTHING :( can’t wait to see the finished product, and unfortunately I have no advice

  6. ladyfingers Member
    ladyfingers 1257 posts, Bumble bee @ 8:16 am

    What a great find! I usually spray paint my antique frames crazy bright colors. A sin, I know… you should be able to find some great tutorials online, though!

  7. porcupine Member
    porcupine 633 posts, Busy bee @ 9:06 am

    @vintagemodernbride: Thanks! They were such a good find.
    @Rachel G.: Thanks for the tips! I didn’t even THINK of Home Depot.
    @poelette13: I love that Martha Stewart ribbon board! I am going to check out the Elmer’s Foam Board. Thank you!
    @Mrs. Pony: Ah, good to know. Thanks!
    @Miss Elk: My building’s basement is nuts. Never seen so much crap before. I guess that’s what happens when it’s a pre-war and the Super keeps EVERYTHING after the old ladies, er…. move on.
    @Miss Ladyfingers: I’ve been googling like mad- I just want it to magically be completed since I get overly frustrated quickly. lol.

  8. dalmatian Member
    dalmatian 592 posts, Busy bee @ 9:14 am

    Amazing find! I am planning on using chalkboard paint for a similar project but I have never used it before, so unfortunately I have no tips to share. Let us know how it goes!

  9. sunhat Member
    sunhat 1453 posts, Bumble bee @ 6:57 pm

    You were so lucky to find these! I’m still on the hunt for a good, big, funky frame to spray paint. Our Goodwill is yielding nothing so far!

  10. msfox Member
    msfox 1635 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:27 pm

    I would say you’re on the right track.. plywood, chalkboard paint. Maybe hot glue the plywood to the frame? It would def hold, so I wouldn’t be worried about that. I think you should hit up Home Depot or Lowes.. they actually have plywood type stuff that is smooth, so it may be easier to write on? (Love how specific I am? Hah.)

  11. Guest Icon Guest
    Elizabeth, Guest @ 6:05 pm

    I saw a post recently that answers this very question–

    Buy black foam board and cut it to fit the frame. Then, spray it with black chalkboard paint. Voila– an easy, quick, LIGHT chalkboard!

    (Trust me, the light part is important.)

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