Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How to Repair Old Plaster Frames

I like to buy antique frames but alot of the time they are damaged, with parts of the plaster detail missing. Usually, I don't mind. It adds character to the piece. Recently, I purchased this nice old mirror. It had only a couple of bits missing from the frame so I thought I'd try my hand at an easy repair.

I went to my son's stash of modeling clay for a couple of blobs of Sculpey. (I use this for lots of cosmetic repairs on china and ceramics.)
There was a rope-like piece of plaster missing from around the edge of the frame so I took the blue Sculpey and pressed it into an existing part of the rope making a mold. (It doesn't matter what color Sculpey you use. I just used contrasting colors for the purpose of this demonstration.)

Then I baked it to make it hard. Sculpey bakes at 200 degrees, 15 min per 1/4" thickness. This tiny piece (and the others that follow) took about 20 min.
When it was cooled, I took a piece of soft red Sculpey and pressed it into the now hard blue mold.
I carefully lifted it out and, using a scissors, I trimmed it to fit the void in the frame.

Then it was time for this piece to bake.
When it was cooled, I glued it into place with Tacky Glue.

I let it dry overnight.

The next day I got out my paints and set out to make it all blend in....
I used to be a photo-retoucher back in the days before PhotoShop, so I'm pretty good with color matching....

At the same time, I replaced a larger piece missing from the scroll-work at the top of the mirror. Here, you can see the brown base color before I added the top layer of gold paint. (This piece had to be molded by hand because the corresponding scroll on the opposite side would have molded backwards...I learned this through trial and error! My dyslexic mind couldn't figure that out until I tried to make the mold!)
After the brown base color had dried, I lightly brushed some gold tone paint over it to blend in with the rest.
It wasn't a perfect match, but from a distance, it will do!
Here is the larger patch getting the "Midas touch."

Here you can clearly see the patch but when I got the mirror hung, it was virtually invisible. You couldn't find it unless you were looking for it.
(See arrow)

This is the first time I've tried this and it really was a simple fix. I am pleased with the results. The only thing I would do differently is to blend the patches a little better.
Good luck with your own attempt! It really was easy with Sculpey!


Emily said...

Awesome tip!!! I will definitely keep this in mind now while I am out at flea markets and estate sales!!


Miss Rhea said...

I have made the molds from the clay before and used plaster to fill them. I like your way much better !! Thanks for sharing !! :)

The Queen of Fifty Cents said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog, you really cracked me up!!

And I'm way impressed with your patching skills.

Kathy said...

We use Scupley at Preschool but I never thought to use it for a patch! Great tip, thanks!! I love that mirror by the way. Kathy

Heidi Ann said...

That is completely fabulous, and I am VERY impressed!

Rachel said...

What a great way to fix an old frame or mirror. I have a frame that the plaster needs repaired and I will definitely give this a try. thanks!

Boat Wench said...

This is a skill that I am happy to know. I appreciate you sharing this great tip!!

Unknown said...

Its really awesome to see such an easier way to repair the old plaster. At first place it may look bit difficult but actually plastering such small part of a frame is an easy to do task. Thank you for the tips.

SueCee said...

Who knew? Thanks for the tip n tutorial!