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How to Create an Aged Mirror

Paint glass to create vintage style mirrors from old picture frames

Of course I love the look of old mercury glass but they are now hard to find and authentic ones can get quite expensive!  Unless you've kept all of your grandma's scratched and chipped and predicted that they would come into style, most of us tossed them in the rubbish.  You just couldn't tease that 80's hair and apply the make up with such a low quality image....It is only recently that they have acquired new interest and appreciation.  But instead of crying over spilled milk, here is an easy way to create your own by using salvaged picture frames or windows.

Here's what you need:

-special spray paint found in most hardware stores and art stores.  I have used both Krylon Looking Glass and Rustoleum Mirror Effects and both work really well.

-spray bottle
-soft moistened rag
-paper towels

For the project I am about to show you I used a gilded picture frame that I had either picked up at my local second hand store or found somewhere-I don't really remember (I have of habit of picking stuff up for later use sometimes) and since it didn't have the glass in it, I cut a piece of old glass that I removed from old window panes.

It is important to clean your glass thoroughly before painting and if you wish to use commercial window cleaners make sure that all streaks are wiped out otherwise those streaks will show up when you paint.  Trust me-been there, done that and had the painstaking task of scraping off the paint on this gigantic old window that I had planned to turn into a mirror.  Unfortunately, that big window is back in my shed awaiting future interest.

For this project I used Kyrlon Looking Glass and here in Canada it is not always easy to find.  I got this batch from my local art store which they ordered for me but Rustoleum Mirror Effects also does the job really well.  Both, I might add, are extremely liquid and it is best to work on a flat surface to avoid runs and drips which totally defeats the purpose of attaining an "antique" look.

Shake your paint well and start with a light coat-don't rush.  As I've said,  the paint, when sprayed on comes out very liquid.  The paint dries quickly but spraying on too much will create pooling and potential runs.  You want this to look as authentic as possible.
After a few minutes, you'll see the paint dry as it will turn a dull silver.

The side you are painting on is the back of the mirror and if you flip it you will start to see a "mirror".  Spray on another light coat and continue this until you get the desired effect on your "mirror" side.  What's good about this paint is that it dries really quickly so it does not become a time consuming project that lasts for days on end.  An "antique" mirror can be created in less than an afternoon

Once you've achieved the mirror you want, it is now time to distress the paint and create that old chippy look.  With your spray bottle containing half vinegar and half water spray the backside of your mirror and wait a few minutes.  The vinegar will start to eat away at the paint.  Take a paper towel or a soft rag and dampen it with the vinegar solution and dab the vinegar on your mirror up and down gently so you don't accidentally remove big chunks of paint.  You should see the paint removing.  If you've left your paint dry longer, it might take more rubbing to remove the paint.

Continue this until you achieve the desired look.  Once that is done you can either add a couple more coats  to lightly cover your chips or you can, like I prefer, paint the backside a flat black which I find emphasizes the chips and scratches.

The one I made here is quite subtle.  First of all I only sprayed on 3 coats so the distressing of the paint isn't as apparent compared to if I had sprayed on double the amount like the window frame shown below so basically if you want a more dramatic effect, your surface needs to be more opaque-more paint!


Let me know how yours turned out and have fun!

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