How to: Polishing old metal frames

One of my most popular items at The Secret Rose is embroidered wall art in upcycled vintage frames. I get lots of people asking me where I source these and how I treat them, so I thought it high time to share the method I’ve developed through the years. Hope it can be of use to someone 🙂

I source the frames I use from all sorts of places – mainly flea markets and charity shops, while also getting the odd donation from friends or family who have old frames that are a little worse for wear. Once I find a frame, there is a process it goes through before I can use it for a project.


I start by removing the image and, where present, old foam. On most of these metal frames, this means removing the nails holding the back. Whether I recycle the cork, wood or cardboard back depends on its condition, but more often than not, it’s good enough to be reused.


Next I soak them in a bath of white vinegar. This step takes a few minutes – leaving them for much longer will scrape away their colouring entirely, leaving you with an unattractive raw metal.



After they’ve fizzed away in the vinegar for a little while, I remove them and start the next step – a good scrub. By now, the vinegar would have softened the majority of the dirt and discolouration, so a good sponge and regular washing up liquid in water are all you need. You should now start to see the frame shine.



Finally, the last step is drying. Use an old t-shirt or rag to rub and polish the frame as dry as you can. Voila, polished metal frame!




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