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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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