Distressed Crackle Frame

  A great guy stopped in a while back with a special challenge. He wanted something unusual to display a group of posters – “Do you have frames made of old barn wood?” Well, not exactly, but what were you visualizing? As we discussed further I came to find out he is Chris Pastena, owner of Chop Bar in downtown Oakland. He has done great projects with local artisans in many areas of the restaurant – the reclaimed wood on the walls, the bar area itself  – all utilizing repurposed materials of all sorts. This is the kind of challenge we love! We brainstormed a bit more and landed on the idea of old windows. He has posters from the monthly pig roasts Chop Bar hosts in the Spring and Summer, so something quite sizable was in order.

  Chris went to a reuse center and found a wonderful long glassed door and pretty much said, “Go to town!”  Great!

window - before   base coat   crackling medium   crackle medium setting up  

  We started with the window – cleaned it up a bit and lightly sanded the painted frame. Then came the base coat for the crackle distressed finish we had decided upon. After the paint was dry, we applied a crackling medium which goes on very thick then settles itself into odd littel circles. When that was set-up and almost completely dry, the top coat went on – then the magic happens! It begins to crackle!

                      top coat      it's crackling!       successful crackle!

After about 24 hours, the cracks get even more pronounced. We used two related shades of paint and applied them oppositely on opposing legs of the frame – dark over light in one direction and light over dark in the other direction. We think it came out pretty darn great.

To finish it off, we painted the outside and inside edges black to give the whole piece a little more depth, then mounted the posters onto an oversized matboard backing with thumbtacks. The piece hangs horizontally from the hardware that was formerly it’s door hinges.

                              finished piece with mounted posters             completed frame & happy Chris

Chris was so delighted with the way it turned out, we had to take a photo of him with his new masterpiece!

You can now see it proudly displayed at Chop Bar, and you will not regret stopping in for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or happy hour! And know that you are supporting a local dining treasure that is hosted by people who support local artists, food producers,and  the local economy! Thank you Chris!

We love textiles!

And we know you do too. However, it’s impossible to enjoy them stashed away in a trunk or drawer. When was the last time you looked through your souvenir trove? If you have an empty nook in your home that you’d like to furnish with something eye-catching, fill it with memories from your adventures! Think of that Indian scarf, Chinese brocade, African raffia cloth, Indonesian batik, Croatian crewelwork, Navajo rug, or blocks from the quilt that Grandma never had time to complete. We can create presentations for (almost) anything – in a deep frame or just securely attached to a presentation mount.

Textiles, fabrics, and most items made from woven materials show very well against a fabric background. We take a solid substrate supported from the back with sturdy wooden slats, hand wrap this base with colorful silk, textural linen, or smooth satin and then attach your object so it is securely supported. It is ready to hang in this state and gives your textile a context and structure that makes it a striking work of art.


Our environments have a lot of dust & contaminants floating around and textiles are particularly vulnerable to attracting and absorbing these. In order to protect pieces of more importance a covering must be used. This can be inside a frame with glass or acrylic that is raised off the piece with varied spacing devices to create room for the object. Another option is to fabricate a plexibox that encloses the entire assembly. Each has it’s own advantages – a plexibox can look very modern and disappear completely, and of course a frame can be as simple or elaborate as you want, adding drama and impact to your pieces.

Use what you already have! You bought it – you already love it – and it will remind you of that beach, mountain or lake where you had the time of your life.

Frame Love

  More often than you might imagine, someone tells me they love their framed artwork. But this image captures a rare moment of framing rapture between Reesa Tansey & her antique Chinese infant wrap. Reesa is a commercial real estate maven with Collier’s International. She brings in treasures from her world travels, then kvells over the results.

She really loves her frame!


  Three-dimensional objects lend themselves ideally to shadowbox frames. The antique infant wrap from China was a delicate batiked and pieced fabric. The simple presentation includes a silk covered backing board to which the batik was hand tacked with small stitches, surrounded by a liner covered in the same color silk. The frame is a solid maple in a strong beveled profile, finished in a tone that echoes the creamy white in the artwork. Museum glass is the best glazing option for shadowboxes, as it affords an unobstructed view of the details in the objects. You can still appreciate the drape of the fabric and the holes in the corners where the bundle was secured.

unwrapping her finished piece"It's so great!"