Naturally weathered and distressed picture frames are probably my favorite frame style.. For me, nothing matches the unpretentious character, neutrality, and natural beauty of a weathered gray wood patina. A great look for modern or traditional styles.
My “seasoned” frames spend no less than 2 years exposed to California sun and rain, shedding their refined finishes and exposing their skins to time and the elements. Only about half survive the harsh treatment, with the rest spitting, cracking and warping beyond use.
Of course my most coveted frames are those which come to me already 20-40 or more years old. Their wood is more varied in type, and often shows deeper grain patterns. Little exposure to the elements, if any, is required to get them where they need to be.
After seasoning, sometimes I wire brush the wood to enhance the grain pattern, softer woods get a soft velvety texture. Then I might stain with rusty water or even wine for a subtle colored wash, and then mabey season a little more to mellow it out a bit.
Woods that once had painted finishes often leave metallic residue in the grain, some salt or bleach creates a wonderfully subtle green patina cast on the wood.
For weathered metallic leaf finishes, I scrub off any remaining protective lacquer coating (hopefully leaving some metallic leaf in tact!) , then add some bleach and or salt and leave outside untill oxidation produces wonderful color variation, blue-green patina.
The goal is to keep it natural looking, and to avoid typical faux weathering and aging techniques. I try to let nature do most of the work, with only a little guidance now and then.