Today I’m going to show you how easy it is to turn an unloved picture frame into a distressed and much loved one using the Peeling Paint Technique – an easy way to get a weathered paint finish. The possibilities and results are endless with this technique, depending on color combinations and how much (or how little) of your frame gets covered in petroleum jelly.
Petroleum jelly? Yep, that’s what I said!
Once you try this on a picture frame, you can then apply this to larger items including furniture!
The colors I’m using today are mustard yellow and brown. How did I end up choosing this color combo? It all started with this very cool vintage postcard I found on Etsy . . .
This is a pin cushion leg Victorian postcard. The seller said it’s either Dutch or German from the early 1900s. This postcard has writing and a 1-cent stamp on the back, and is a bit beat up, but I absolutely love it! Naturally I wanted a frame to match, so that’s how the mustard and brown combination came to be.
Acrylic paints – two colors of your choice
Sand paper or a sanding block
Picture frame – used or from the dollar store
1. Sand the frame. In my case, the frame I was using had black paint with a sheen on it already, so I did lots of sanding. Wipe the frame with a cloth to get all the dust off.
2. Paint your base color. You may need to do a few coats. I didn’t start with any primer or gesso as a base, so I ended up needing 3 coats of the Mustard color. Let paint dry in between each coat.
3. Distress the frame with some scrapes, nicks, and gouges. Once you’re satisfied with the base color, and the frame is completely dry (I waited overnight), take the edge of your sanding grip and add some scrapes, nicks, and gouges to the frame for a distressed finish. (This will relieve you of any minor stress – it feels good! Hah!)
You could stop here at this point if you wanted to, and you’ll have a frame that looks old and vintage.
4. Add petroleum jelly. With your finger, add petroleum jelly to your frame in different spots, keeping in mind where you want – and don’t want – the base color to show.
Petroleum jelly acts as a resist, so any paint that is applied over the petroleum jelly will not adhere to the frame, thus showing off the base color instead. This is the essence of the Peeling Paint technique, so I’m going to repeat it:
Petroleum jelly acts as a resist, so any paint that is applied over the petroleum jelly will not adhere to the frame, thus showing off the base color instead.
Don’t apply the petroleum jelly too thin, but also don’t use large chunks of it. The ideal amount is somewhere in between.
And remember: there’s actually no wrong way to do this technique!
5. Paint the top coat over the entire frame. You will see right away that the jelly begins to resist this top coat.
6. Allow the top coat to dry. I let it dry overnight.
7. Wipe off the paint and petroleum jelly with paper towels. The top coat of paint that sits on the spots of petroleum jelly will easily come off. This step is messy yet satisfying as you begin to see results immediately!
Once you are satisfied with how your frame looks, you will need to remove the grease left over from the petroleum jelly. I used a baby wipe all over the frame which worked great.
To finish off the peeled paint frame, I added vintage lace seam binding. I wrapped the seam binding around (and through) the bottom of the frame and tied it into a bow.
I hope you’ll try the peeling paint technique: it’s a very satisfying way to achieve a distressed paint finish without a lot of effort!