Create vintage Easter decor out of old picture frames. This tutorial will guide you through the steps of making a keepsake — something that you will want to hang on your wall, year after year. And we’ll do it using old frames, either laying around the house or acquired second-hand. Rescue some unwanted items and introduce these adorable, fluffy bunnies to your Easter (or spring) decorating this year!
The Renewing Power of Spring
We are mere weeks away from the first day of spring, and not too far distant is the Easter holiday. There’s something extremely comforting in the idea of fluffy baby animals (chicks, bunnies, ducks, and lambs). Maybe it’s because of the miracle of new life that never ceases to occur. Every spring, the arrival of these precious babies is a testament that God still trusts humanity. And that life will go on, despite the troubles and conflict around us. I’m reminded that we all have the opportunity to renew ourselves, to recommit to those things that are most important, and to reaffirm our faith in God and in humanity. There is still good in the world.
Vintage Easter Decor with Meaning and Purpose
Not only do I hope to invoke the inspiring feelings of spring/Easter with this project, but I hope to invite the sentiments of bygone eras with vintage finishes. We will be taking great pains to create something that looks like it’s been around for ages and has a great story to tell. I will be using very specific products to create some of these finishes. If there is a more common substitute, I will try to mention it. But the reason I’m using certain products is because there isn’t another way (that I know of) to produce the results I’m looking for. So, please know that I do not benefit in any way if you purchase these items. I just use them because they are quality products that create desired outcomes.
Materials for Vintage Easter Bunny Decor
If you are ready to embark on this adventure called Vintage Easter Bunny Decor, then let’s get to it! As I mentioned earlier, this project will require many, many layers and lots of steps to create that beautifully aged, worn look that we desire. The materials list is….uh…a bit daunting. But many of these products will be used again for future projects. So, if you’re planning on sticking around with me, it will be worth the investment. I’d love to have the company!
- Two 8×10 Picture Frames (size can be variable, but something more ornate is desirable)
- Waverly “Celery” Chalk Paint
- The following items from the Amy Howard Collection:
- “My Herb Garden” Milk Paint (or green color of your choice)
- “Provincial Yellow” Mineral Pigment (optional)
- “Bauhaus” One-Step Paint (can use a substitute, but cannot be milk or chalk paint)
- Cracked Gesso (no substitute)
- Antiquing Glaze (no substitute)
- Light Puck Wax (can use a substitute, but it must be in puck form)
- Dark Puck Wax (can use a substitute, but it must be in puck form)
- Dust of the Ages (no substitute)
- Dropcloth for Painting (or similar fabric, maybe burlap or canvas)
- Bunny rabbit silhouette (downloaded from google and printed)
- Floral scrapbook paper
- Rub’n Buff “European Gold”
- Off-white or flecked yarn
- Mod Podge Matte
- Acetone (Nail Polish Remover)
- Baking Soda
- Sea Sponge
- Paint Brushes
- Hot glue gun and glue sticks
- Cardboard (old cereal box or the back of a writing pad)
- White or gray spray paint (optional: see Step #1 for details)
- Exacto Knife
- Glass Cleaner
Step #1: Prepping and Painting Frames
This project requires picture frames with glass. You can decide whether you want to make one frame, or a two frame set, or three, or four — it’s up to you. Dimension only matters because most home printers cannot print larger than 8.5″ x 11″, so I wouldn’t go much larger than an 8×10 frame. Choose to create a matched (two of the same size) or mismatched set (three or four varying sizes). Any of these decisions will result in a good design. It all depends on what you have on hand to use and what you want to achieve.
I would recommend that you find frames with lots of texture and ornate designs. For this Vintage Easter Bunny tutorial we will be creating a two frame set with 8×10 frames found at a second-hand store for $1/each.
- Make sure the frames are clean & dry and the glass and backing have been removed. If you do not want the original color of the frame peeking through the project then I suggest giving them a quick coat of white or gray spray paint. I didn’t mind if my original color came through so I left it alone.
- In a bowl, mix approximately 1:1 parts of Waverly “Celery” Chalk Paint and baking soda. Mix very well, smoothing out all of the lumps. It should have the consistency of whipped sour cream. You can always start with a little less baking soda and add as you need. The purpose of the baking soda is to add thickness, depth, and texture to the frame.
- Apply the celery paint to the frame. Be very careful not to let the thick paint puddle or pool into the crevices of the detailing on your frames. You don’t want to loose that dimension. Allow to dry completely.
- Brush on a second coat of celery paint to the frame. Let dry.
Step #2: Adding Another Layer of Paint
Remember, the key to creating age and depth is layers. So, we’re going to add another layer of paint, but in a darker tone to add dimension. In the photo below you will see that I have two different colors of milk paint. Originally, I mixed the two colors, but then later decided to only use “My Herb Garden” to get the darker color that I needed. Then, I ended up adding a pinch of a Amy Howard “Provincial Yellow” pigment. My goal was to create a very earthy, dark green. Feel free to mix colors as needed to get the desired effect. But, the “Herb Garden” should be sufficient if you don’t have other milk paints on hand for mixing.
Mixing the Milk Paint
- Follow the directions on the package for mixing the “Herb Garden” milk paint. You will need very little paint for this coat, but you’ll also need paint for the bunny later in the project. So maybe mix up 3-4 spoonfuls. I’m going to be honest, I didn’t leave my mixture in the fridge like the instructions suggest. I left it at room temperature for about 30 minutes and it performed great. So, if you weren’t aware of that little hiccup you should be able to get around waiting overnight to continue with the project. But I’m always getting teased by my husband for not following directions very well. So, maybe don’t be like me. 🙂
Applying the Milk Paint
- Now, use a moistened sea sponge. Dip it into the bowl of green milk paint and squeeze off the excess paint into the bowl. You may want to offload the sponge a little (dab excess paint lightly onto a piece of paper), so you don’t get too much paint on that first application. Then gently dab the darker green paint around the frame, only adding small areas of coverage. Do not cover the whole frame. You want to leave some of the celery paint exposed and visible. (You can see I’m covering a lot of area in the photo below and if I were to do this project again I would add a lot less.) Be aware, the moisture from the sea sponge will activate the celery paint below. It may even lift off the frame a little, exposing that original color (or the spray paint). This is adding more depth, so it’s okay. But please be gentle, you only want small, tiny peeks at the original frame, not to undo the whole paint job.
- Let dry thoroughly.
Step #3: Adding a Vintage Touch of Gold
This is the part of the process that always excites me: adding the gold touches. This small detail makes such a world of difference when creating something “old”. We are going to make all of those decorative elements on the frame pop and come alive.
- Add a small amount of acetone (nail polish remover) to a cup or bowl. Squeeze a small amount of Rub’n Buff European Gold onto a paper plate or piece of cardboard. A little goes a long way. (The photo below shows “Antique Gold” which would also work beautifully.)
- Gently dab your brush into the acetone and offload (remove as much excess as possible). You want very little acetone on the brush or it will dilute the gold color too much and start removing your paint job. The acetone helps the gold go on smoother, so it’s a necessary evil. Just use it conservatively. Rub the brush into the gold, mixing in the acetone well. And gently apply to the highest points of the decorative elements. When you find the Rub’n Buff thick and difficult to work with, repeat mixing in the acetone. Continue highlighting the elements on the frame until you have the desired effect.
- Let the gold dry.
Step #4: Here Come the Waxes and Dust of Ages
You may have noticed that the frame looks pretty muted in color right now. This next step will help remedy that problem: adding waxes. I’ve taken some old world painting technique classes and these next steps are crucial details to creating that aged look and feel. It’s possible for you to substitute the Amy Howard brand of waxes (but they must be in puck form) for something you have on hand but you will have to acquire the “Dust of Ages” product. You can skip that step but I’m going to reaffirm the importance of small details when creating vintage projects. Like I said in the beginning of this post, I do not benefit in any way from you purchasing these products. I’m just sharing my knowledge with you.
The light and dark waxes work complementary to each other. But they cannot be applied at the same time or you will essentially create a third color. Apply only one wax at a time and allow them to come to tack before applying the next.
Applying the Light Wax
- Apply the Amy Howard Light Wax (puck) to the frame using a bristle brush. You can be somewhat generous with the light wax but don’t overdo it. It’s okay to leave crevices without wax because it will create more depth of color. Now you can see that color come to life. Allow to come to tack before applying the dark wax.
- WHAT DOES “COME TO TACK” MEAN? The wax has come to tack when you place your ring finger on the frame and it gently tugs. It should not feel wet.
Applying the Dark Wax
- Apply the Amy Howard Dark Wax (puck) with a CLEAN, DRY BRUSH. Do not use the same brush as the light wax. Be very sparing when using the dark wax. Do not dab or push the wax into the crevices. Gently brush around the edges and highlights of the frame. As Amy Howard says, “you can quickly ruin a piece by applying too much dark wax”.
Adding the Dust of Ages
- When the wax comes to tack, it’s time to add the Dust of Ages. This product produces the appearance of great age. Using a clean bristle brush, dip into the container of dust. Gently tap off the excess and then dab it onto the frame. Be a little bit generous with the dust, but not wasteful. Work your way around the frame with the dust.
- Pick up the frame and tap off the excess dust. Then use a lint-free cloth to buff the frame, removing the dust from all the high points but leaving it in the crevices of the decorative elements. You can buff off any area that you feel is “too much”. The result should be subtle.
Now, you’re frame is done! You’re halfway to a finished vintage Easter bunny decor. You are welcome to add a spray of matte sealer, if you choose. But with the wax application, you should be fine.
Step #5: Beginning Work on the Vintage Easter Bunny
We will now be using the glass that was removed from the frame earlier. Make sure it’s clean and dry.
- Lay the glass on top of the floral scrapbook paper and trace around the edges. Remove the glass and cut out the paper along the lines.
- Using mod podge, brush the glue onto one side of the glass. Carefully lay the glass (glue side down) onto the right side of the paper. Turn over to the back side of the paper and press and smooth firmly, removing all ridges and bubbles. Let dry.
Step #6: Creating the Vintage Easter Bunnies
This step will require a quick Google search to find a bunny silhouette. Because I don’t own the copyright I can’t offer the one I used here for download. But I think it took me less then 10 minutes to research, download, resize, and print a silhouette. If you are making multiple, or mismatched frames, you may want to think about having different angles and profiles of bunnies for each frame. That would be a very cute variation.
- When you have a printed bunny silhouette, cut it out and lay it down on your fabric. I’m using some leftover dropcloth purchased from Walmart for $10. You could try burlap, canvas, or some other heavy material that has lots of texture.
- Trace around the silhouette onto the fabric.
- Cut out the fabric bunny following the traced lines.
- Apply Mod Podge directly to the glass in the general area where the bunny will be placed. Then apply the bunny to the glass. Once you have the bunny placed exactly as you want it, apply a generous coat of Mod Podge. The bunny should be saturated and all the edges glued down firmly. Let dry thoroughly.
- Once the bunny has dried, use a light sandpaper to sand down all of the roughness.
Step #7: Preparing the Bunny for Vintage Effects
We are going to be layering once more to create an old, vintage look. The products I’m using all work together to create a certain look. So, you can try to use substitutes (I’m all about using what you have), but I can’t guarantee that you’ll get the same results. The base layer of paint will peek through all of the layers in the end, so make sure it’s a color you want to show. I wanted my bunnies to have a classic white color peeking through so I chose to use Amy Howard’s “Bauhaus” One-Step Paint. Whatever paint you choose to use for this layer cannot be a milk or chalk based paint. It must act as a foundation and not activate when coming into contact with moisture.
Adding the Base Coat to the Bunny
- Apply two coats of Amy Howard’s “Bauhaus” One-Step Paint (or non-milk, non-chalk paint of your choice), allowing to dry in between coats. This is your base layer.
Mixing the Cracked Gesso
- Next, place 1-2 spoonfuls of Amy Howard’s Cracked Gesso into a bowl. Add water (follow directions on package). Then stir thoroughly, smoothing out lumps.
- With a brush, apply the cracked gesso to the bunny. Be sure to get thorough coverage. Let dry and apply a second coat. Dry thoroughly. The cracked gesso creates a super yummy “old world” layering effect when everything is finished.
Adding Green Milk Paint
- You can use the “My Herb Garden” milk paint mixed up earlier for the picture frame or make a new batch. You won’t need much. Apply two coats of green milk paint, allowing to dry in between applications.
For anyone who is curious this photo shows which yellow pigment I added to the “Herb Garden” to create my green color. It is called “Provencial Yellow” Pigment Powder. I used two spoons of green and a large pinch of yellow.
Step #8: Antiquing the Bunnies
Hopefully, at this point you can see this Vintage Easter Bunny coming together. We have a few steps left and we’ll be at the finish line. Here is where that cracked gesso will come into play. As we apply the antiquing solution it will start to lift away the green milk paint to expose the “Bauhaus” base paint on the bottom. This creates a beautiful patina that you’d find on a truly antique piece.
- Once the green milk paint has dried on the bunnies, it’s time to apply the Amy Howard Antiquing Glaze. Pour a small amount in a bowl and dip a moistened sea sponge into the solution. Squeeze out the excess and then gently dab the solution around the bunny. Right now you’re just worried about coverage and activating the paint.
- On the second pass, add a lifting movement to the dabbing and start gently pulling away the green paint. It’s up to your preference where, and how much, you lift away.
- When you feel like you’ve finished, gently wipe away any excess pooling from the bunny and glass with a cloth. Let dry.
Creating the Perfect Patina
What I love about the Antiquing Glaze is it creates a beautiful illusion of the paint wearing away over the years. While also adding that worn, antiqued appearance that we try to achieve with sanding and lots of dark wax. There is no sanding or distressing here. Just chemical reactions. It looks a lot more natural to me, which is why I love these products. I know I sound like a commercial right now but that’s not my intent. I feel like Amy Howard is really onto something here. Her products really made my Vintage Easter Bunny a success.
Step #9: Another Round of Waxes and a Bit of Yarn
We’re going to apply the light and dark waxes just like we did with the picture frames. I’m not going to repeat all of the instructions here because this is getting quite long and I’m tired of typing. Haha! But really, if you have forgotten how to go about it please refer to Step #4.
- Apply light wax. Wait for it to come to tack.
- Lightly brush on dark wax. Wait for it to come to tack.
Now we will create that super cute, fluffy tail made from yarn. I had never made a pom pom before so I sought out a youtube video. The youtuber did such a fantastic job that I’m going to refer you to that link to create your pom pom. It’s much better than me going on and on about it. But first let me talk about yarn. You can see in the photo below that I purchased an ivory, flecked yarn from Joanns. I wanted something super fluffy, so I opted for a thicker strand. You can do the same, or use something else of your choice.
Here is the YouTube Video link: Instructions for Making Poms Poms
Step#10: Finishing Touches on the Vintage Easter Bunny
Now that you have successfully made some beautiful pom pom tails, we’re going to affix them to the bunnies. We will also be adding a button eye. I found mine at Joanns (see photo below).
- With a heated glue gun, place a generous amount of glue on the bottom of the pom pom. Press the pom pom firmly to the bunny. Now you have a fluffy tail!
- Next, add glue to the vintage button and fix firmly to the bunny. Now you have an adorable eye!
- With an exacto knife or a sharp blade, scrape off all the gunk and debris that has collected on the glass around the bunny. Use glass cleaner and Q-tips to clean off smudges.
- Carefully place the glass inside the the picture frame, replace any padding, and secure the backing.
You are finished with your Vintage Easter Bunny Decoration! Congratulations! That was no small feat with so. many. layers!
We’re Finished with the Vintage Easter Bunny Project
This was quite the journey! Thank you for coming along with me. I love sharing what I have learned and created with you. I’m learning everyday from other people who are so generous with sharing their skills and knowledge. It’s a huge blessing, that through technology we can connect and share with one another.
Final Thoughts on the Vintage Easter Bunny Project
Easter is the time to celebrate unconditional love and redemption. Our world is so riddled with worry and burdened with trouble. Wouldn’t it be great if humanity were to get a fresh start? That might be quite a tall order at the moment, but what we do have within our power is the chance to impact our personal spheres. I hope we take that opportunity for a fresh start this Easter, even if it’s as simple as having a renewed hope for the future, reaffirming our faith in God and each other, or bringing more positivity into our sphere of influence. We need to feel empowered and confident in our ability to make a difference.
I wish you all a beautiful spring and Easter holiday. There’s still some snow left on the ground here but spring is so close. I’m so excited to get out into the garden and work in the soil. In the meantime I will be adding a few new Easter projects to go along with the Vintage Easter Bunny. See you next time! — Jayme