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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.

Source: Martha Stewart Living, January 1998


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.


  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. 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. 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.

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