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4 Thrifted Frames, 1 Easy Distress Technique

How to easily distress anything – plastic, wood, glass, resin – for an authentic looking antique finish using just paint and Vaseline.

Hey y’all! I think I’m finally getting back into my groove after last week’s Myrtle Beach trip.
This project I’m sharing with you guys today is really a little teaser for what’s to come.
Remember my mash up of gallery wall inspirations that made my head swirl with ideas? I have figured out my direction and I’m so excited for our naked stairway wall to have some bling on it! And by bling I mean distressed vintage-inspired awesomeness. If you have any picture frames lying around waiting to be jazzed up, this project is perfect.
Over the course of several months, I’ve had a little collection going of random frames I’ve discovered in thrift stores or craft stores that I thought had interesting details.
I knew I wanted to eventually do a gallery wall. Some were as cheap as 99 cents (poppin’ tags yo) and some I paid a little more at around $10. I always always check the frame section of thrift stores when I visit. I chose 6 total to distress for our wall- 4 thrifted and 2 from Hobby Lobby.

 Okay, they’re really not too bad. And I originally thought they would be pretty in Olivia’s ballet theme room, but I swiped them for our living room instead…I know, shame on me…so greedy.

The other two of the 6 were this brassy gold plastic, which, unfortunately, I forgot to snap a before shot of (bad blogger!).

Believe it or not, I have never done a chalk paint project. (Say whaaat?)  I had always wanted to! And, y’all, I gotta say, I have found the elixer of life. Okay, I exaggerate. But it’s amazing stuff.

From this point on, if you stand still long enough, I might slather you with a layer of chalk paint. I think I shyed away from it before because I was so scared of ruining a paint project and ending up with wasted funds. That stuff ain’t cheap! Annie Sloan projects are beautiful, but I can’t swing over $22 for 8 ounces and potentially mess it up. (Update:  I finally did it, and it was SUPER easy! I had no reason to be scared. And I discovered a little of that paint goes a long way. See my beginner’s guide to chalk paint here.)

BUT I found a super cheap alternative.

I’m loving this Plaid brand, Folk Art Home Decor Chalk Paint,  so if you’re a beginner at chalk paint, like me, I highly suggest trying it out.
So back to the frames.
Supplies I used:  (Affiliate links are provided below for convenience. For more info, see my full disclosure here.)
  • 2 colors of chalk paint (I used Folk Art paint in Java and Parisian Grey.)
  • Vaseline
  • A clean, dry rag
  • Paper towels
  • 2-3 large artist brushes

Step 1.  Paint frames with a coat of your base color (the shade that will show underneath the distress finish). I used the Folk Art Chalk Paint in Java on four of the frames, and I used Rustoleum Oil Rubbed Bronze  on the other two just to see if there would be a major difference. Both came out great. You can really use anything.

Step 2.  After the paint is dry, rub Vaseline onto various spots on the frame.
I focused mainly on the corners and edges where normal wear and tear would occur. And, hey, I got a little skin softening treatment in the process. 🙂
Step 3.  Paint on a layer of your top coat color of chalk paint. Don’t worry about painting into every cranny and crevice of your detail as that adds to the distressing. You can apply the paint immediately after rubbing on the Vaseline. Spray paint would even work too if you didn’t have chalk paint. This part is where it gets really fun! You can immediately see the distressed places. For my top coat color, I used the Folk Art Chalk Paint in Parisian Grey.
Step 4. Once the top coat of paint is dry, use a clean, dry rag to wipe away the Vaseline.
Then, (optional) dry brush your frame. I chose to use the Java color again leftover from my base coat. To dry brush, dip an artist brush into the paint, and swipe off the paint onto a paper towel until the bristles are dry. Brush it on your frame, focusing on the detail work of the frame if you have any.
As you dry brush, you’ll see the color very faintly to add more dimension to the distressed finish.
And that’s it! It took longer for the paint between coats to dry than the actual distressing steps themselves. It was super easy! And the best part is you can do this finish on practically anything since there isn’t any sanding required. Two of my frames were plastic (like the one pictured below), and they ended up looking like distressed painted wood when I was finished.
Now they’re ready to be hung up for the gallery wall! I have other frames that I spray painted a darker color to add some contrast. I can’t wait to see what it all looks like.
Update:  You can see the full gallery wall reveal here plus tips to make hanging gallery walls incredibly easy.
What distressing projects have y’all done lately?



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    1. Thanks girl! I still use this trick constantly and it’s so much easier than sanding until your arm is ready to fall off. Haha

  1. Lauren,

    I don’t know how I found you, but I’m glad I did. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have an old table that I’ve inherited and want to attempt my first chalk painting on it. Thanks for the wonderful tutorial, and alternative to the ASCP price. Love your site and all the hard work you do! So creative. Brandi

    1. Aw thank you so much, Brandi! I will say since I’ve started using ASCP quite a bit now that one quart goes a long way. I’ve used one quart on a huge coffee table trunk and four dining chairs and still have half a quart left. It’s crazy. The Folk Art kind definitely seemed to take more than that. But I still liked the results of that one too. Hope your table turns out awesome!

  2. Love your frames! I always have my “frame radar” on when at Goodwill, yard sales,etc. You really should try making your own chalk paint with plaster of Paris and latex paint. You can pick up “oops” paint at Home Depot and Lowes and also 8oz pots of awesome colors at Lowes!