Classic Paper Tole Art and Frame receive a Makeover

Old Frame and Paper Tole receive a Makeover

Paper tole art has been around for centuries, but the popularity of paper toling kits was super popular in the 80s and like macrame, its popularity waned.  As a result old paper toling like this one can be found in most thrift stores.  Macrame is making a bit of a comeback, so I when I saw this old frame I decided to try and work on it.

Originally I went to the thrift store looking for an old frame that I could add some plaster of paris flowers too, but this floral paper art drew me for some reason so  I changed my mind.


After sitting in a frame for decades the paper looked dusty. I took the frame. glass, mat and paper tole art apart and cleaned them.  Take note of how it is assembled so you can reverse the process to reassemble the frame later on.

.The first part is pretty typical cleaning.

Wash the frame and glass in hot sudsy water and let dry.

Give the matt a good scrub with a damp cloth.

Cleaning the Paper Craft

You will need a tiny bit of rubbing alcohol, a small paintbrush and a sheet of paper towel.

I was unhappily shocked to notice it smelled like old cigarette smoke.  Yuck.  It didn’t last too long, fortunately.

Dip the paintbrush into the alcohol, dab the brush on the paper towel to remove any excess and lightly brush the dust off the flowers.  Mine came out clean and very shiny.

Repeat the process until the paper tole art is clean.  I was surprised at how fast this process was, it only took ten minutes and the alcohol evaporated instantly so no drying time either.

My artwork had a very dingy background on it that I removed.  I suspect yours will as well.  You can really tell how smoke stained and dusty the old paper in the right was.

Using small scissors I cut the outline of the paper art and discarded the dirty paper. This was easy but took some patience and 20 minutes.  Once the dirty paper was discarded the smell disappeared.

Assemble the Paper Tole Art

Besides the tole art,  you will need a pretty piece of cardstock for backing and glue (I used spray on adhesive).

Using the frame as a guide, cut your cardstock to the appropriate size and then glue the paper tole art to the cardstock.

Paint the Frame and Picture Mat

Once the frame and mat are clean and dry.  Paint them using white chalk paint.

Paint the matt and frame with at least two coats to cover well.  Let the paint dry well between coats.

Reassemble Your Frame

My frame had three ledges, the first for the glass, the second for the paper tole backdrop that left enough space for the height of the paper tole art, and the third one for the backing.

I am thrilled with how my $5.00 paper tole art and frame turned out.

I think its feminine and because of the flowers and chalk paint, I think you could consider it farmhouse style.  Farmhouse or not I love it.  It turned out so well I am going to be looking for more paper tole art to makeover.


What do you think, would you hang this in your home?  I love it on my dresser.


  1. Wow, this is so beautiful, Leanna. I just love it framed! Your creativity always inspires me!

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you Carolann. The flowers are nice for Spring which I cannot wait for lol.

  2. LeannaForsythe says:

    Hi Nigel. I reassembled it just as it was, but the original frame did have a piece of cardboard in the back. I will think about the tutorial and add a line or two about that. Thanks for asking.

  3. Hi! Great tutorial. I was wondering if you could tell me if you added a piece of thin wood or cardboard on the back or you just leave it as it is.

  4. You’ve made it like new – it’s lovely. This will be one of the features over at Handmade Monday later today 🙂

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Wonderful, I am honoured and excited. I will pop by, to check it out.

  5. Robyn Wright says:

    That is gorgeous! I never knew you could clean paper with alcohol. Thank you for sharing that tip.
    PS: I found you through “The Interior Frugalista’s Talk of the Town”.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi Robyn, I tried the alcohol as it typically evaporates quickly and it worked very well. I am really happy with how it turned out. Marie from the Interior Frugalista is one of my favorite bloggers, I look to her blog for how to tutorials all the time. Love her blog

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi Sam, I was looking for frames and spotted it. I loved the florals and decided it was worth the try.

  6. Wow those flowers really cleaned up nice. I’ll have to look for paper tole on my next junkin trip. What a unique piece. Thank you for sharing on Merry Monday! Hope to see ya next week!

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Absolutely Kim, I enjoy participating in link parties. It helps me build relationships and share my posts.

  7. This is very cute – I am not at all familiar with paper tole art (but I DO remember macramé!). This turned out beautifully – you definitely took it from dingy to delightful!!! Pinned!!

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you for the comment and pin Kristine, keep an eye out at thrift stores I see the paper toll regularly with all kinds of different designs. Hope you’re doing well.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you very much for both comments, Laura. The hardest part of the man flowers post was fiddling around with the printable. I am glad you like it.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      It’s true that it’s a bit old-fashioned with the florals I think, but I love it. It’s so girly and feminine. Glad you like it, Debra.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.