Often valuable works of art in their own right, picture frames are essential to the wow factor of a painting. Gilding them was traditionally a way of enhancing the light on the painting. Most gilded frames are made from wood with relief decoration formed from carved wood or applied moulded decoration. On gilded frames, the wood is typically covered in a white chalky base known as gesso, before a coloured ground made from clay (bole), paint or varnish and then gold leaf are applied. Heat, humidity and movement can damage picture frames, causing joints to open, decoration to chip or the gilded surface to deteriorate. Seek professional advice if there is serious damage to an elaborate frame. But it isn’t hard to find attractive, inexpensive vintage frames languishing in junk shops, auctions and boot fairs. Once dirt and minor damage have been dealt with, they can easily be reused.