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Repairing Antique Gilded Artwork Frames

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Many antique or older pieces of art were surrounded by highly ornate gilded frames. Over time, these frames can crumble, pieces can break off, or they can undergo damage from things like termites or being exposed to moist conditions. If you own a valuable piece of art and have a damaged frame, you can take it to a professional art restorer or attempt to make the repairs yourself. While repairing old frames may not restore them to their original condition, you can make the frame look whole again by following a few simple steps.

Make A Cast

Since most older frames were highly ornate, it may seem impossible to replace the intricate parts of the frame that are now missing or damaged. You can remedy this issue by pouring latex rubber over a matching section of the frame to create a mold that will recreate its original design. Once the rubber has dried, remove it from the frame and use this cast to rebuild the broken or missing areas. Pour plaster into the mold and let it dry, then take it out and carefully glue it back to the frame areas that need to be replaced. Let the glue dry completely before beginning the next step.


A process called gilding was often used to make art frames look opulent and elegant. While not all antique frames were covered with real gold or gold leaf, many were. This factor along with time and age can make matching the newly repaired section a bit difficult. You can apply gold leafing to the repaired sections, which can be found at most hobby or craft stores. Take special care when applying gold leaf to ensure that you're covering all of the nooks and crannies completely with the gold leaf. If you prefer, you can attempt to cover the repaired area with a matching gold colored paint. Be aware that the paint may not be an exact match to the original frame's color, but it will certainly be an improvement.

Protecting Your Frame

To keep your newly restored frame protected, consider covering the entire frame with a clear coat of paint or a clear epoxy. This will keep the frame together and keep dust and moisture away from the frame. Never store artwork in damp areas such as a basement or attic unless it's stored in a container designed to provide it with good air circulation and moisture protection. When hanging your artwork, consider inserting a thin piece of cork between the artwork and the frame. The cork will allow for some give when the art expands and contracts due to changing humidity levels and help the frame maintain its shape. If you own a valuable or sentimental piece of art with a beautiful frame, you can restore it to its original beauty so it can continue to be enjoyed for years to come.

For more information, contact It's Worth Framing does custom framing or a similar company.