Altered Vintage Crackled Photo Frame

Altered Vintage Crackled Photo Frame

Posted by DecoArt on Jul 22nd 2015

Have you often wondered what the difference is between DecoArt’s Media Crackle Paint, Crackle Paste and Crackle Glaze? While each of the products crackles, each has its own very distinct look and can be combined to create some really lovely, very vintage looking pieces.

This tutorial and the “Faux Aged Glass Tutorial” recently featured on DecoArt’s Mixed Media Blog will teach you the differences in the Media Crackle products as they are applied in this lovely vintage style photo frame.

The DecoArt Media Crackle Glaze is the thinnest, most transparent of the three crackles. It produces delicate porcelain like cracks. Next is DecoArt Media Crackle Paint. It is white, more opaque and an acrylic paint consistency. It produces a deeper crackle and a different texture than the Crackle Glaze. DecoArt Crackle Paste is the thickest of the crackle family, the most opaque and produces the largest, deepest cracks. It is recommended that all crackles are allowed to air dry rather than risking potential damage that could occur to the crackling if heat set.

Once you learn the characteristics of DecoArt’s Crackle products, there isn’t anything you can’t create! So let’s begin with a very ho-hum, plain wooden photo frame in need of a “face lift”.

Items Needed:


Begin with a photo frame that has width to the sides. In this case, the photo frame was a wooden frame whose four sides measure 1 ½” wide. This allows room for stenciling the leaves.

Instruction Image #1

To give the Crackle Mediums that will be used on this frame something to better adhere to, I first covered the frame with a coat of DecoArt Media White Gesso. Allow the Gesso to air dry or gently heat set it dry.

Instruction Image #2

Brush a coat of DecoArt Media Crackle Paint over the entire surface of the frame. The heavier the application of paint, the larger the cracks. The lighter the amount of paint, the smaller the cracks. Allow to air dry. 

Instruction Image #3

To prevent any of the delicate crackles from DecoArt Media Crackle Paint from flaking off during the rest of the altering of this frame, I added a light coat of DecoArt Media Soft Touch Varnish to protect the surface. You can also use DecoArt Media Ultra Matte Varnish or even DecoArt Media Matte Medium. Let air dry.

Instruction Image #4

Tape the Leaves Stencil to the side of the frame and using a palette knife or your finger, scrape DecoArt Media Crackle Paste over the stencil. Carefully lift the tape and remove the stencil, revealing the embossed leaves now adorning the side of the frame. Repeat for the other side of the frame. Immediately clean off the stencil with soap and water. Using a paint brush, apply fairly thick areas of DecoArt Media Crackle Paste randomly over the frame, particularly around the perimeter of the frame and of the cut out area for the photograph. Feather the outer edges of the thicker Crackle Paste to blend in with the more delicate crackles already on the frame surface. Allow the DecoArt Media Crackle Paste to naturally air dry, just as you did with the Crackle Paint. This usually only takes about 15-20 minutes, depending on how thick you’ve applied the Crackle Paste.

Instruction Image #5

In this photograph, you can clearly see the difference in the crackling between the DecoArt Media Crackle Paint on the surface of the wooden frame and the added stenciled leaves and random globs of DecoArt Media Crackle Paste. The cracks are smaller and more delicate from the Crackle Paint and deeper, more pronounced from the Crackle Paste.

Instruction Image #6

Brush a coat of DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylic Hansa Yellow Medium over the entire surface of the frame. Remove as much of the yellow from the stenciled leaves as possible using a damp Q-Tip. This is done so that when the green color is applied to the leaves, they will remain more of a true green color. 

Instruction Image #7

To tone down the very bright yellow and give the frame more of an aged, antique feeling, apply a coat of DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylic Transparent Yellow Iron Oxide over the Hansa Yellow Medium. Transparent Yellow Iron Oxide gives a lovely sepia-golden tone to the yellow, calms it down and yet provides that beautiful yellow color to still emerge. Be sure to remove the Transparent Yellow Iron Oxide from the embossed leaves as well.

Instruction Image #8

Create an antiquing mixture of DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylic Burnt Umber, Quinacridone Gold and just a touch of water. The combination should be about–65% Quinacridone Gold and 35% Burnt Umber. Gently DRY BRUSH this combination onto the areas of the frame that you want to look much more worn, aged and shadowed. This would include randomly around the perimeter of the frame and the cut out area where the photo will be placed.

Instruction Image #9

Create a semi transparent green color to be brushed on the leaves by mixing DecoArt Media Soft Touch Varnish and DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylic Blue Green Hue. Combine about 65% Blue Green Hue and 35% Soft Touch Varnish. Carefully brush the green over the embossed leaves. Repeat as many times as necessary to achieve the desired depth of the green coverage. I added more Blue Green Hue and less Soft Touch Varnish to some areas of the leaves so that they would not be a uniform color of green. I also added green around the interior recessed area of the frame to “pop” the green color a bit more and also draw the eye inward toward where the photograph will be placed. Let air dry or gently heat set. 

Instruction Image #10

Gently apply DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylic Burnt Umber in the crevasses of the frame to further shadow and age recessed areas. In this photo, you can clearly see the porcelain crackles under the three different colors of paint used on this frame. You can also see the different hues that the Transparent Yellow Iron Oxide, dry brushing of Quinacridone Gold and Burnt Umber and this light coat of Burnt Umber provide.

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To give a bit of dimension to the top and bottom of the frame, tape a script stencil (in this case, this is a Crafter’s Workshop Stencil) to the top of the frame, being sure to line it up straight with the edge of the frame. Combine DecoArt Media Modeling Paste and a small amount of DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics Carbon Black and Burnt Umber to create a deep brown color of Modeling Paste. Using your finger, scrape the colored Modeling Paste over the stencil, being sure to cover all of the intricate letters. Gently remove the tape and remove the stencil. Wash the stencil immediately with soap and water to clean. Gently heat set the Modeling Paste or allow it to air dry as you repeat this step on the lower half of the frame. I chose random sections of the stencil to create my sentiment, “Art is just another way of expressing our innermost thoughts, feelings and experiences on surfaces of all kinds.”

Instruction Image #12

To make everything seem to meld together, apply a light coat of DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylic Quinacridone Gold and a touch of water over the entire surface of the frame. Wipe off any excess. The Quinacridone Gold gives such a subtle warmth and luster to the frame. Allow to air dry or gently heat set.

Instruction Image #13

Finally, to really emphasize the crackles, brush DecoArt Media Antiquing Cream Raw Umber over the entire frame and allow it to dry. The Antiquing Cream is water based and will gently wipe off using a damp cloth. Remove the cream from areas you do not want to retain that brown, aged look. Reapply the Antiquing Cream in areas you want to darken even more and gently wipe away the excess. I even like to take my finger and add bits of the cream here and there and gently wipe away the excess while the cream is still damp.

Instruction Image #14

In this photo, you can see how the DecoArt Antiquing Cream works its way down into those fine porcelain cracks produced from DecoArt’s Media Crackle Paint as well as the deeper more pronounced cracks of the DecoArt Media Crackle Paste. The sides of the frame have almost taken on the appearance of tree bark, which I think is very cool since this is a wooden frame. Almost as if the paint has worn away with age.

Instruction Image #15

At this point, the frame is complete. One final coat of DecoArt Soft Varnish can be applied over the entire frame for added protection. 

The colorized photograph and “faux” aged glass from the “Faux Aged Glass Tutorial” recently featured on DecoArt’s Mixed Media Blog are added and this completely altered, vintage crackled frame is ready to be displayed.

Instruction Image #16