Monday, November 29, 2021

Tutorial - Miniature Faux Carved Gilded Frames

 Many years ago I purchased a collection of framed prints in an auction.  They were nicely scaled and finished, even covered on the back with nice wallpaper and signed “Bob von Fliss”.  Much later I learned Bob von Fliss was one of the original founders of NAME and the first Editor of the N.A.M.E. Gazette (so this is part tutorial, part miniatures history lesson!).  You can download the first issue of the Gazette from the NAME website and see him listed there.

I loved the antique carved ‘gilded’ look and wondered how he did it.  The faux carved look is from embossed foil called “Dresden” foil which you can find on Etsy. [click the keyword "faux carving" in the sidebar for my other posts on that topic]. The trim I used to replicate the Von Fliss frame (Napoleon, upper right of photo above) has a grape leaf or grapevine design but there are lots of Dresden foil borders which would work well for miniature frames.

To find the foil trim, search the words "Dresden foil border" on Etsy or Ebay.


  • Wood trim for frame, 1/16th  inch thick by ¼ inch wide – or however wide you want your frame
  • Wood trim narrower than frame, also 1/16th inch thick or thinner
  • Index card
  • Dresden Foil Border trim –see photo below for the designs I used
  • Picture or art piece to frame
  • Gold acrylic paint (I used DecoArt Dazzling Metallics “Splendid Gold”)
  • Antiquing Medium (I used Plaid brand Antiquing Medium in “Cocoa Bean”)
  • Paintbrush and paper towels
  • X-Acto knife
  • Wood glue

Close up of Foil Border Grapevine Leaf Pattern and Scallop

Here are the instructions for making your own faux gilded frame.
  1. Cut main frame pieces to fit your art piece.  I didn’t miter the wood since the foil will cover it but Bob probably mitered his.  I just butted the pieces together.  Glue them together with wood glue

  2. For extra support, trace around the frame on index card.  Cut out and glue it to the back of the frame.  The photo below shows the back with the index card and the art piece I wanted to frame. Below I am tracing around the art piece so I know how big to make my liner frame (step 7).

  3. Paint the front wood and edges with gold acrylic paint making sure to paint the raw edges of the index card too (I forgot to do this before I glued the first 2 pieces of foil on but it will help if you do it before gluing on the foil).
  4. Line up the outer edge of the foil border with the outer edge of the frame.  Use the X-acto to miter the corners of the foil at the corners of the frame.

  5. Glue foil piece to frame.  Flip frame over and trim off gold foil from the back where it extends to the center of the frame. 

  6. Repeat for the other three frame sides so you have all 4 sides covered with the foil.

  7. If desired, add another narrow edge of trim to finish the inside edge of the frame.  I trimmed a very tiny edge off of a different border, a scalloped border.

  8. Cut another 4 wood strips, (narrower strips this time) to support the back of the frame.  These should be set back from the inside edge of the frame and should be the right size to fit whatever art piece you want to frame.  Again, these don’t have to be mitered.

  9. Paint the entire front and back of the frame with the gold metallic paint.

  10. Add a hanging cord made from thread.  I just cut a piece of thread and glued it against the narrow trim on the back of the frame, let it drape across the opening and glue it again to the opposite side.  Allow enough slack so it will be above the center of the frame when hung.  This makes it easy to hang on a small sequin pin pushed into your wall with very tiny hole and makes it removable.   The thread is kind of hard to see in this photo.

  11. When dry, brush on some Antiquing Glaze then wipe off immediately for an antique look.

  12. Let dry and slip your art work between the frame and thread hanger.  Here are both the new frame (left) and the original by Bob von Fliss (right). The painting I framed was by Lynn Trenary.
Below is my finished frame hung above a fireplace.  Sometime in a later blog I will finish that room (I call it the "Guys from Texas Room").  I think the gold foil makes a very nice hand-made frame and nicely scaled.  It amazes me sometimes what nicely scaled items those early miniaturists could make by hand without access to Ebay,  miniature shops and the abundance of commercially made items available to us now.  There is a lot of charm in those vintage 1970s miniatures and we can learn a lot from them!

Until next month...Yikes!  Christmas is almost here!