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Monday, February 28, 2011

{Tutorial}: Vintage Wood: How to Distress

Vintage is in.  Everywhere you look, you will see vintage-inspired items. {I say "inspired" because most of it is not actually vintage ~ it just looks vintage}.  From frames and furniture to jewelry and hair accessories, it. is. everywhere.  Now, what precisely do I mean by vintage?  Old.  Worn. Weathered.  Beautiful.

So, I've been perusing stores to see what I can find in this realm {by the way, there is a fantastic store in the Phoenix Metro area if you're local ~ it's called "Potato Barn."  If you live here, be sure to check it out if you're looking for old, farm-style, vintage-inspired pieces!}.  Most of it is fairly expensive...and unfortunately I have not come across many cool, urban antique-y stores around here {with the exception of the aforementioned one; so if you know of any, please do share!}.  At this point I've been mostly just looking because I'm not exactly sure how to implement some of it into our home...not sure how far I want to go with it, ya know?  If I would have thought of this a year and a half ago, I would have done a vintage-inspired French baby nursery...but too little too late there.  However, I think I'll use that same theme to redo Baby K's room in another year once she's outgrown her nursery.

Here is some inspiration for that room makeover....more than a year away, of course, but it doesn't hurt to start looking early!

french vintage postcard
handpainted telephone
french vintage collage
french vintage postcard
vintage-inspired - love the doilies and jars

vintage dress forms
vintage-inspired necklace I got yesterday...loving it!
love these rings!
So now that you're inspired to add some vintage into your home, too, let's get started!  As far as doing it yourself goes, distressing wood is a great way to begin adding that vintage feel to your home.  For my first project, I started small with picture frames.  But I'd love to try this same technique with an old wooden dresser or table...add some vintage-inspired glass knobs, and I be it'd be beautiful!

First I took 2 wooden picture frames I already had that were originally a medium brown hue.  I started with some sandpaper and just rubbed them down all over.  {You really should *not* skip this step if your frame/furniture surface has a shiny finish, or else your new paint will have a hard time sticking to the wood}.

Then you just need to take a soft cloth and wipe off all the debris you made from sand-papering.

Now the color.  I chose an ivory spray paint {satin finish - indoor/outdoor use} and sprayed one coat onto the frames.  {I know the spray paint can will tell you to hold like 12 inches away and do thin coats, but I chose to do thicker layers of paint, as I really wanted to get some funky textures}.

After the paint dried about 30 minutes, I did another coat...and then another after that one had dried.  {And you can keep repeating this process as much as you like. Of course, as we're looking to distress {that is, age} it, I probably wouldn't recommend more than, say 3-4 coats, because you do eventually want to get back to the original frame color on some parts of the frame, which I'll get to later}.

Once it was dried, I took my sandpaper and start rubbing off some of the paint I just put on.  I tried to do parts that would normally wear by themselves, like edges and corners.  But feel free to add your own artistic touches, of course! Then use your dry cloth to wipe off all the debris again when done.

That is all I did with the first frame!  Interestingly enough, with this one, I ended up getting a dimpled surface.  For a split second, I cringed...but then it dawned on me that this was perfect for the vintage feel I wanted!  Here's the kicker:  I couldn't duplicate the effect with the second frame.  I was soooooo bummed!!!  I originally thought it was due to my thick layers of paint drying funny, but obviously there was more to it because that same process didn't work the second time around.  I'm now thinking it must have had something to do with the heavy layers and the temperature of the air.  I'm thinking the dimples occurred at night with colder temperatures perhaps?  {If you know the answer to this, let the rest of us know!!} That being said, I do have an answer for you!  There are all kinds of crackle and antique-producing varnishes out there that you could apply to your frame surface afterwards to achieve similar results.

dimpled effect from first frame

With my second frame, I did the same initial sanding and spray painting, but I also used a paper towel and dabbed it in certain spots of the frame when the paint was still wet to texturize it.  After it had dried, I used my sandpaper on it to get some worn edges, and then I took a hammer and added some pinhole areas to certain parts of the frame.  You could also use a wedge to cut deep grooves or a chain to whip at the frame, which will yield oval-shaped divots.  Basically, there's no wrong way to do this ~ if you can find a tool to manipulate and change the appearance somehow, then go for it!
close up of second frame...notice the pin-sized nail holes

Here are the before and afters:

Now that my frames are done, I'm loving the look!  So now I'm pumped to find more items to bring into our decor...and of course more things to distress with my own hands!  Ahhh, the life of a crafter!

Have you done a similar project?  Have some other tips for distressing or achieving vintage-style results in the home?  Please share! We'd love to hear about what you've found and done yourself!  Happy distressing, everyone!

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jamie said...

Love these frames!
How did you achieve the cracked looked from on the first frame? I like that is does not look sanded.