It all started with my looking for a different size of an art print I have.
I love the piece — her arresting eyes fascinated me at the museum I saw the piece in, so I was delighted when I found it in the gift shop — but it’s a strange size, meaning that finding a pre-cut mat for it is well-night impossible. And given that I can’t draw or cut a straight line to save my life, I was hoping to throw a little money at the problem and find a more frame-able version.
Fun fact: The various art sites seem to have a print of almost every Julio Romero de Torres painting except that one. And if you’re wondering, yes just about all of them have women with similarly smoldering eyes.
But alas, my search for that exact one came up empty. However, for reasons unclear to me, AllPosters showed me a different artist’s work in the search results.
I absolutely fell in love with it. Which is strange, really, since normally I don’t go for meek colors. Most everything I buy has at least some vivid or deep hues in it. But this… This spoke to me for some reason.
The print itself was affordable — $20 during a 50% off sale. But I’d been playing with the design tool, trying to figure out what I’d do for a frame or mat. And I found a look I really liked:
But — even at 50% off — the frame added $84. (Eek!) And the closest approximations on Amazon weren’t much cheaper.
And my brain quickly and firmly shut down at the idea of paying that much for a piece of art.
Thankfully, frugality makes you a good bargainer — even when it’s with yourself. What, asked my inner bargainer, if I could approximate the frame look? Then could I buy the $20 art print?
Yes, apparently that would be acceptable.
Incidentally, I call this a tale of strange frugality logic because I’ve absolutely paid more than that for framed art before. Five-ish years ago, I went on Art.com and chose frames for some pieces that put their costs not much less (and in some cases more) than what I was looking at on AllPosters.
Moreover, I have the money to spend $104 on a piece of art I really like. But for whatever reason, that night it was a no-go.
My best guess is that it’s because even as I placed the order, the Art.com purchase was seen as a one-time splurge to get some better art for the walls. As a one-time splurge, okay.
But now that I’m single — meaning I don’t have to worry about anyone else’s aesthetic — I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I love art and will probably always be eyeing some piece or another. So maybe my brain just didn’t want to set a precedent? I dunno. Brains are dumb.
Anyway, I’ll go through my DIY process below. But I know we’ve all had our the frugal parts of our brains slam shut completely arbitrarily over some expense. So let’s hear yours!
Okay, for anyone who likes a good DIY decorating tale, here ya go:
One $6.49 gold Goodwill frame — not quite as little texture as the one I’d looked at, but it seemed like it would give a similar effect — plus a $2.50 tube of bronze paint from Michael’s plus a $4 sample paint jar from Home Depot, and I was set.
Naturally, I forgot to take a proper “before” picture until the frame was mostly painted black. But here’s a glimpse of what it looked like in gold.
The problem with texture (especially grooves) is it meant that the paint just didn’t reach some areas. So I took a flashlight and stabbed the paintbrush into the missed areas. I had to do that twice, but eventually I had it all covered.
Once all the touch-ups were dry, I started applying the bronze. I’d pour a small bit of bronze out, wrap a rag around my index finger, dab into the bronze and blot it on. I did do some more work with a thin paintbrush I had from some other project.
I took a shot after my first attempt:
If you think the bronze looks subtle there, know this was with me shining a flashlight on the area.
I realized that while the bronze was pretty subtle in frame I was trying to duplicate, that wouldn’t work for my house, since I don’t exactly have the best overhead lighting.
So the bronze had to be a bit more bold.
So I went back in and used the paintbrush to dab on a second coat — and to paint the part around the opening full bronze, plus the beads around that part.
The end result:
Definitely not quite the frame in the picture. For reference:
But I think the effect is the same. And that it’ll look pretty stellar. Once the next sale happens.