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Project

Antique a Mirror

This romantic "antique" mirror is actually a clear piece of glass made softly reflective using eglomise, a glass-gilding technique popularized in the 18th century.

Introduction

To make a softly reflective mirror, use glass from a picture frame or have a piece cut to fit a favorite frame. Silver leaf, sold in booklets of 3-by-3-inch squares, is easy to work with, but very delicate (1,000 stacked sheets equal the thickness of a nickel). Remember these tips: Work in a draft-free room; do not get silver-leaf booklet wet, and do not pick up silver leaf with your hands. You'll also need gelatin sheets, distilled water, two 1- or 2-inch brushes, a gilder's-tip brush, a No. 12 brush, cotton balls, and acrylic clear coat.

Steps

  1. Step 1

    Place one gelatin sheet and 1 cup distilled water into a small metal pot. Slowly heat solution; stir with 1-inch brush until gelatin dissolves, forming sizing solution (this will adhere silver leaf to glass and enhance the leaf's reflective properties); keep in pot over low heat.

  2. Step 2

    Start at a corner of a clean, dry piece of glass; using same 1-inch brush, apply sizing to 3 1/2-inch area. Generate static on gilder's-tip brush by brushing it against your hair. Holding booklet at slightly downward angle, touch bristles of brush to edge of an exposed silver-leaf sheet; slide sheet about 1/2 inch over booklet edge.

  3. Step 3

    Touch edge of sheet to edge of wet glass. Quickly move hand away from edge; sheet will slide off booklet onto glass. Tilt glass to help wrinkles "fall out." (To redo, wipe off silver leaf with lint-free cloth.) Cover entire glass, laying silver leaf in rows, overlapping squares about 1/8 inch. Let dry 15 minutes. Fill in missed spots with sizing and No. 12 brush, wetting only exposed glass; cover with silver leaf. Let dry 1/2 hour. Brush off excess with cotton ball. Use dry 1-inch brush to apply clear coat to back of silver to seal mirror. Let dry several hours before placing inside frame, with ungilded side facing outward.

Source
Martha Stewart Living, January 1998

Reviews (1)

  • 25 Feb, 2008

    This can also be done much easier. Use the spray adhisive for silver leaf. Spray
    back of glass and add silver leaf - I left some spaces messy for more of an antique look. You can then paint the back ... black ... think I just left mine as is ..
    looks really great. P. Sullivan