Saving Thrift Store Pictures

painted picture frames upcycle pictures

One of the saddest things that I see at the thrift store are vintage pictures and painting on some lonely bottom shelf stacked rudely on top of one another.  This arrangement not only hides the art from shoppers, but it usually damages or scratched it.  It makes me so sad to think about just tossing someone's work on a bottom shelf of a thrift store piled with other pictures.

I have made it my mission to save these pieces and help them find new homes.  (Don't I seem to do that with everything?)  Most of the time the art just needs a frame update and it is refreshed and ready for its new life.   I have included my step-by-step directions below. Maybe you can help me in my effort to save old art from bottom shelves.  If you need art for your walls you can find it usually under $5 at your local thrift store.  Paint the frame and it will look as nice, if not nicer, than what you can find in a chain store.  And it will be an original and uniques to only you.  If you are not the do-it-yourself type I always seem to have a bunch of these rehabbed pictures in my booth at Plaza Antiques & Collectibles Mall in Lincoln Park, MI.

Step 1 - Find a Picture

I love to save old paintings, even if it is a starving artist canvas.  I like that these pieces were painted by an artist, but lately, I have been expanding what I pick up.  I have found prints, pastels, drawings...pretty much anything I like.  I figure if I like it someone else will too.

Step 2 - Prep

I use DIY Paint and really it is no prep, but it is always a good idea to at least wipe down your treasures with a disinfectant wipe.  If it is really dirty Dawn dish soap and water works well or even a little Goo-Be-Gone.  Always good to start with a clean surface.  Need more help?  Check out my post on 5 Things to do Before You Paint.

You also want to protect the picture from paint.  If you can take it out of the frame that is best.  If not use painters tape to tape around it.

Step 3 - Paint

Time to paint.  I only use DIY Paint.  (Want to find out why I love it so?  Check out my blog on Why I Love DIY Paint.) DIY Paint is an all-natural clay-based paint that you can use on almost any surface.  It has a ton of colors and always a perfect color for every project that you want to do.  (Need help picking a color?  Read my post My Top 5 DIY Paint Colors.)

Step 4 Distress (optional)

The next step is optional.  Some people love to distress and some don't.  Distressing means that you remove some of the paint to reveal the layers of paper or surface underneath.  With DIY Paint you can use a wet wipe or a damp cloth to distress and lift the paint away.  If you lift too much or decide you don't like it you can just add more paint over it.

Step 5 - Wax

You need to seal the paint in some way and I find the easiest is with wax.  I used DIY Paint Clear wax as a base coat and follow with a colored wax if I want to.  IT is amazing to see how a different color wax can change the whole look of the piece.  Need more information on waxing?  Check out my post on How to Wax Furniture.

Don't forget to buff your frame after the wax has dried.  Using a cloth or a buffing brush really makes the frame shine.

Step 6 - Hang and Enjoy

After all your hard work is over it is time to enjoy your new updated piece of art.  I think if you save one picture you will be on the hunt for a new picture to save each time you visit the thrift store just like me.

Need step-by-step instructions?  Check out my video on Saving Thrift Store Pictures on YouTube.

Hope you can help me in my quest to save old pictures from thrift stores! Happy Painting!

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