Dot Photo Frame Refresher

Arts & Crafts, DIY, Leveling Up

Many people in my social bubble have turned to handcrafts during the covid-19 pandemic as a way to pass the time and provide comfort. I’ve seen such a wide spread of projects and patterns and inspiration as a consequence, and enjoyed every one. Here’s a project of my own.

I’ll share what I thought would be a quick photo frame refresher but turned out to be anything but. The results are worth the effort, though, so all’s well that ends well. 🙂

I wanted to make over two older, uber-cheap 5”x7” wooden photo frames. They’re made from pine (I think) that had yellowed over the years, and I was quite tired of the darkened wood. I’ll first give the short version and the before and after photos, and after that the full saga.

Here’s a frame after the complete refresher: white wax, faux nailhead trim done with paint, and permanent marker polka dots.

Dot Photo Frame with Pens

Dot Photo Frame After

Apparently I didn’t take a before photo, but here’s a photo of similar untreated frames:

Walmart Wallniture Unfinished Wood Photo Frames

Walmart

The only difference is my frames were much more yellowed. (Oh, boy, how much more!) Here’s a frame in the middle of the transformation:

Dot Photo Frame Middle Closeup

I originally intended to try whitewaxing the frames. It’s a new-to-me technique I found via Cami at Tidbits. (I like her clear tutorial and whitewaxing projects; please visit her site if interested.)

However, I accidentally bought clear wax instead of white. (I worked on this just before and during some of the worst covid-19 panic in Massachusetts; I guess I had a coronabrain on.) Even while working on the frames I didn’t notice, because the clear wax looks white in the jar. Only after applying a couple of layers did I start wondering why the frames don’t seem to be gaining the lovely transparent white surface I expected… D’oh!

After some thought and more research I tried adding white acrylic crafts paint into the wax and wiping that on with a rag. Either I didn’t mix it properly or the rag wasn’t the best tool, for the surface came out quite uneven. You can see some of the effect in the photo above. However, it was much closer to what I had envisioned.

Perhaps I should’ve left well enough alone – indeed, in hindsight I think I would be quite happy with the improvised faux white wax – but at the time I was disappointed and wanted something else to “improve” the frames. I had an idea of trying to mimic nailhead trim with paint.

Dot Photo Frame Middle

I used an eraser at the end of a pencil and blue acrylic paint. Unfortunately, that made it worse. I’ve never been a polka dot person, and apparently this faux nailhead trim is close enough not to appeal to me. Plus, the eraser was a bit difficult to load with paint and use, even though I started with a clear expectation that the result wouldn’t necessarily be very even.

At this point I had to set the frames aside and chew the matter some more. Eventually, while looking for something else, I ran into two permanent marker tutorials. One is by Jessica from Cutesy Crafts (posted at DIY Candy), and the other by Tasha at Kaleidoscope Living. Both used letter stickers to mask off an area and applied small permanent marker dots all around them, spaced very tight close to the stickers, and wider and wider apart the further you went.

Bingo! I adapted the idea and used markers in five different colors. First I had to make a few dry runs on paper to see what kind of dot distancing and which color combinations I liked best.

Dot Photo Frame with Pens

I ended up starting with a few small brown spots here and there (maybe 4-8 in an inch of frame). Then I added dark blue and green dots, increasing the density slightly. Next, a few more spots of turquoise. Finally, I filled almost all remaining gaps between the blue “nailhead trim” and the rest of the marker dots with lime green.

Here’s the after photo again:

Dot Photo Frame After

…and a closeup:

Dot Photo Frame After Closeup

And only very, very belatedly did I notice that I completely forgot to wax-treat the inner edge of the frame, the one closest to the photo. Fortunately at that point I was able just to laugh at my poor coronabrain project!

And it actually doesn’t look that odd in the end. Live and learn! After all of the rigamarole, I was definitely able to earn a number of experience points from this project.

One thought on “Dot Photo Frame Refresher

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