Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

November 18, 2011

How to Frame a Vintage Brooch for Display

Frame a vintage brooch

I had a wee bit of an ebay addiction in my early twenties.  I spent many sleepless nights "sneaker-fishing" my way into senseless purchases.  I kicked my habit but have many reminders, including two fabulous, but un-wearably inconvenient, vintage Bakelite pins.  The solution to a collection of brooches I don't wear?  Frame them!

  • Cotton batting (I used leftovers from an upholstery project)
  • Silk (sourced from my fabric hoard)
  • Primer (leftover)
  • Paint (leftover from paper storage organizer I painted)
  • Small paint brush
  • Glue (Aleene's worked well!)
  • Vintage frames ($5.00 for pair at estate sale)
  • 2 Vintage brooches (try flea markets, yard sales and estate sales)
  • Sandpaper

How to re-paint wood frames:

I lightly sanded each frame, removing any sheen.  Then I gave the frames a quick wipe with a damp cloth.  Using a small brush I applied a coat of primer, let it dry overnight, then applied two coats of paint.  I used a smaller artist's brush to get the paint into the "carved" detail.  Spray paint with a built-in primer would make light work of this job!

Repurpose vintage frame

How to create a padded backing to display a brooch:

How to display brooches

I used the original "artwork" as my base - you can cut a piece of thin plywood/scrap plastic etc., if your frame is empty.  I cut a piece of batting and silk slightly larger than the backing and "upholstered" it.  I wrapped the fabric tightly, squeezed the backing back into the frame to check fit (and make sure the lines on my silk weren't woobly), and then glued the batting and fabric in place on the back.  I secured with tape while the glue dried (hot glue is faster, but I find that it doesn't always have as strong a hold as I would prefer).

Create an upholstered backing display

Putting it Together:

Working with finishing nails was a pain (it is aggravating to hammer something that tiny, super gently).  Instead, I stapled beside the backing so instead of the staples going through the backing (into the thinnest part of the frame), the staples hold the backing in a kind of friction fit:

Use staples to hold art into a frame

The finishes pieces combine my favorite things: a silhouette look (black on cream), turquoise, an ornate frame (I'm accidentally growing a collection), and making use of what I have. 

Now I just need to figure out where to hang them . . .

Frames bakelite brooch
Craft ideas using vintage jewellery
Framed bakelite brooch
Painted aqua frame


  1. This is beautiful! I love that you made a padded backing. And the broches are beautiful!

  2. Gorgeous! I love the colour you've painted the frame. It's so soft and beautiful, a wonderful way to showcase the brooches! I love it!

  3. Beautiful! I'm always attracted to brooches, but would never actually wear one - this is such a great way to be able to enjoy them! Thanks for sharing :)

  4. Tanya, these are gorgeous!! I would have no doubt that you could turn a tiny little brooch into a gorgeous piece of artwork. They are so simple and clean but make a huge statement.

  5. What a gorgeous way to showcase how it makes it into a work of art!

  6. Thanks for the shout-out. Sure love those brooches framed AND I LOVE those frames!

  7. I love everything about this: the color of the frame, the fabric, the brooch. My grandma gave me a beautiful aurora borealis crystal brooch that I don't wear often. I think I need to do something like this with it.

  8. Thanks, Ladies!

    Beth: I think your sparkly brooch would look fabulous framed! It is easy to take off if you still want to wear it for a night.

  9. I love this post because I have new fascination with vintage brooches--in part because they seem like little works of art to me. Framing was an idea I had also.

    I would encourage you to consider wearing them once in a while. You can do so much more with them than just put them on a jacket. Check this out:


    1. Hi Susan,

      Apologies - I somehow missed your comment! I just clicked the link and I love the look of brooches on a skirt. I have to try this look.

      Thanks :)


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