distressed photo art - how to

One of the things I like best about decorating is, that even though there are "rules," you don't have to follow them (or maybe you do, but I don't...either way...whatever)...

Anyway, I love the way rough, worn, textured pieces look with elegant, shiny, pretty pieces - like Shabby Chic on steroids...here are some of my favorite examples...

As I mentioned yesterday, Kate's room is almost done...and Ultra Shabby Chic is kind of the look we're (OK, I'M) going for in there. Here's a fun little piece I finished yesterday...

Easy & cheap. Just the way I like 'em.

I started with:

*A bare wood frame from Hobby Lobby (mine was 12"x24" and cost $24.99, but it was 50% off) - no glass, no nothing...just the frame.
*Two 8x10 black&white photos of my darling girl
*DecoArt Americana Acrylic Paint in Snow (Titanium) White
*a sponge brush
*steel wool
*Sticky Tak
*Washi Tape

First I dry-brushed the frame with the paint & sponge brush. If you've never dry-brushed before, here are some tips that work for me...

*make sure you use just a little bit of paint

*after you get it on your sponge, dab in on paper or something similar (see my lid up there?), until almost all of the paint is gone - make sure that you dab the entire end of the sponge, so that paint ends up along the whole end...

*brush your item in long easy strokes and try continue to brush on until all of the paint is gone from the brush.

*repeat these steps until you get the look you want.

I used about a dime-sized amount of paint to do my entire frame.

Next, I took my photos and dry-brushed those, staying mainly on the outside inch or so of the paper.

To get the feathered look around the edges, simply dip your sponge in the paint, blot to remove the excess and pull your sponge down the edge from top to bottom (instead of along the edge). This will give you a small, faded-looking line around the photo. Cover the corner edges with a little triangle of paint (does that make sense?).

When that paint dries (usually in about a minute or so), take your steel wool and rub it along the photo - again paying closer attention to the outer edges so that you don't obsure your subject too much. Rub the wool up and down and back and forth (you can do it in circles and diagonally, too, if you like, I'm just not a huge fan of the look it produces). Some of the photo will be removed, leaving little copper-colored lines on your photo (There may a chemical reaction explanation for this, but I'm not sure what it is...).

You will be left with photos that look like they've been shuffled through, looked at, handled, shoved in drawers, and appreciated for years...

When you have your photos & your frame looking just the way you want them to, go hang your frame. I use Command products to hang most of my lighter-weight art...especially in the kids' room...we seem to change things up in there so often...

After your frame is hung, decide on the layout of your photos & hang them on the wall with Sticky Tak (again, our temporary-but-will-work-perfectly-for-as-long-as-we-need-it-to solution). 

Then, because I thought the photos needed just a little somethin' more, I decided to add a little washi tape to some of the edges (I used Tim Holtz' Tissue Tape).

I love the way this looks because the color of wall mimics a mat behind the photos...and the photos can be changed out or removed without any trouble (or mess) at all.

I love the way this looks...especially next to some of the other art we've added to her walls...(more on that later...).

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend! I'll be working on some more things around the house for the next few days...my little "weekend goals" sheet is all filled up...how about you? What's on your sheet?

Here's where I'm linking up! PLUS...



  1. I love the way this turned out!! I am looking forward to trying this.

    Katherine (harpsandollie.blogspot.com)

  2. Love it! I am Pinning this so I can come back when I have the stuff to make one!

  3. Oooooh, I love the look of this! I pinned it, too--I can't wait to try it out myself!

  4. Love the distressed photo. Thanks for the detailed instructions on how to get this effect.

    Happy to find your blog through the Linky Blog Hop! I'm a new Linky Follower! Hope you can swing by and visit me at www.dusty-mcrae.blogspot.com if you have a free moment. Blessings!

  5. This is so pretty Maggie!! I love the distressed look you did - I haven't ever distressed the photos too! I am going to have to try this! Thanks!

  6. Those photos look so cool with that frame! I've just got to get my hands on some washy tape. Totally uped the awesome factor :)

  7. Once again...love it! Was the frame already a grayish color and you just dry brushed the white? Very clever as well to use the wall color as a 'mat' for the pics!

  8. That washi tape is awesome! What a cool way to finish a picture. I love it!

  9. I love the weathered look. I call them "Faded Glories" on my Pinterest board.Also just finished distressing and giving 2 doors a rusted, weathered look. Lots of work!
    I found you on Lynky Followers and am following and would like you to follow me back at citicasita.blogspot.com. You are welcomed!

    Thanks for sharing,

  10. This looks great Maggie! I love the inspirational photos as well...thanks for sharing this at my party!

  11. I love the table in the first picture! Your frame is fantastic and so original..love it! Just stopping by from the Linky Party Hop. I hope you will visit www.laughterandgrace.com and follow back.


  12. cuuuuuute! I'm a midwestern girl, too, but I have yet to venture into the world of sewing :)

    I found you on the Laughter and Grace link up, feel free to follow me on Linky, too!

  13. So happy to find your blog through the Linky blog hop. I'm now a follower on Linky. Hope you can come check out my site, http://www.eccentricleopard.com. Thanks!

  14. This looks great!! I love the whole distressed look but I've always been scared to try it for fear of just ruining images. You make it seem so simple to do though!

  15. Great job! Thanks for sharing :)

  16. Love the way it turned out - thanks for the quick tutorial. I also love the wall color! May I ask what it is?

  17. I came over to say Hi--following the new Linky Follow tool. I hope you will come by www.ItsSoVeryCheri.com and follow me as well.

    I am also one of www.thediyclub.com gals and you should enter this into our monthly competition.


  18. LOVing the photo art. I stopped by to follow you on the Linky Party Hop. I hope that you get a chance to do the same! :-)


  19. Oh my gosh I love this!!! I'm a fan of anything and everything shabby chic and this project is perfection! :) I found your blog through the linky party hop and am a new linky follower! stop by if you get a chance!


  20. This is very nice!! I just pinned it so I can try it sometime this year! Thanks for the detailed instructions.

  21. Love the project. Thanks for the instructions. I have NEVER seen that tape. I've gotta find some and try that. It's a neat addition.

    Im new to blogland.......less than 2 weeks in, soooo, COME VISIT ME.

    And........beautiful daughter, by the way.

  22. Love it!!! the washi tape is a perfect touch to it! thanks for linking up to Make it Monday! I've shared it on the Brassy Apple FB page and I am now your newest like on FB as well!

  23. WOW! You did a great job! I would love for you stop by at my party and link up at ourdelightfulhome.blogspot.com

    Mrs. Delightful

  24. Love this Maggie. I'm with you, I love the pretty with the worn looking. Fabulous project!!! (and Kate is gorgeous, just like her Mama!!)

  25. That is absolutely gorgeous! Would love for you to stop by and link up to the Tuesday To Do Party (if you haven't already.) Also, the Pretty Packages Party is going on & I would love for you to share any creative gifts, packages or party favor ideas!




  26. These are so beautiful!! They turned out so great and I am totally putting these on my "to do" list! Stopping by from Oopsey Daisy.


  27. I love, love, love this! I have a map I'm getting ready to distress, so I will definitely be coming back to this tutorial. I'd love it if you'd share this at my Show & Tell party, going on now @ the Delectable Home.

  28. I love this and I'm sure her room is going to be beautiful! Please stop over and share this wonderful project at Mix it up Monday:


    I hope to see you soon :)

  29. I SO love this and want to do this at my house! You are amazing, Maggie and your photography is stunning! Thank for sharing at oopsey daisy!

  30. This is simply beautiful! I love how you transformed the photographs. I can't wait to try your techniques! Bonnie and I would be thrilled if you would share this at our weekly link party! I know our readers would love it!


  31. You are so talented, thank you for sharing this great project.

  32. This is beautiful shabby perfection!

  33. Love this-thanks for the tutorial!

  34. Featuring you tonight over on my blog! You were one of the top viewed links at last week's {wow me} wednesday party! Congrats! :)

    Ginger @ gingersnapcrafts.com


  35. Oh my goodness ! Love this project and can't wait to give it a try. I am glad I found your blog and am following you now. I'm curious. How did you get the reply thingy on your comments? Thanks!

  36. What a gorgeous shabby chic frame....my favourite out there by far! I love your blog! I am now your newest loyal follower! :) Cath
    Blog: Home is Where my Heart is

  37. @Susan@avintagefarmwife

    Thank you so much, Susan! This is the tutorial I used to get the "reply" button...


    But you can always just google "add a replay button to blog comments" to see more. Hope this helps! And thank you so so much for your comment!

  38. Oh Maggie I love this!!
    Thanks for linking up! I featured your post in my wrap up http://tidymom.net/2012/diy-for-the-house/
    Have a great weekend!

  39. Me encantó!!!! So so so beautiful!!!! Love the tip of "hang them on the wall with Sticky Tak"!!!!
    Just perfect!!!


    Mariana from Uruguay, South America!

  40. @Anonymous Mariana!!!
    Thank you so so so so much, you sweet girl...;)


Thank you so much for leaving me a comment! I so appreciate you taking the time to write...xoxo

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