Posted by Mary Andrews / May 24, 2012
How To: DIY Antiqued Mercury Mirror Glass
Today we're excited to to share this simple and affordable method for transforming any piece of glass into a beautiful decor update with an antiqued mercury glass style finish — it's amazing.
I've been eyeing lots of different decor accessories in the style of antique mercury glass as of late — this trend seems to be everywhere and I have to admit I've gotten a little sucked into the idea of a mirrored glass bedside lamp or even a bedside table. Given the fact I'm the only one in this household with this opinion, I've decided to get my feet wet slowly and figured out how to achieve the antiqued mercury glass look in a completely DIY method with smaller glass accessories I already had lying around the house.
Here's what I was working with —a glass mason jar, milk bottle, ridged flower vase and a smaller round votive type candle holder. They were all things I either had in hiding down in the cellar or headed for the recycle bin, so I figured I had little to nothing to lose in the event things went horribly wrong, haha.
What I really liked about experimenting with all these different shapes and textures was the ability to test the finish on a smaller scale so I'd be able to imagine different possibilities as I come across glass pieces in the future on a larger scale (like that clear glass lamp just waiting for me to find it).
Back in the day, real mercury glass was used a decor accents and was an affordable option to it's silver decor counterparts — today we'll be making the affordable version of this original hack (kinda funny, right?).
- Various glass containers (must be glass, I used all clear versions).
- Spray bottle
- White vinegar
- Krylon looking glass spray
- Paper towels
- Newspaper or other protective covering
Cover area outside (or in an extremely well ventilated area) where you plan to spray with newsprint or other protective covering — we used cut up grocery bags that we had on hand for projects like these.
Thoroughly clean and dry all glass pieces you'll be working with — you want to make sure the glass is clean in order for the spray to fully do it's thing. Fill a spray bottle with 1 part water to 1 part white vinegar and shake to combine. Set nozzle of spray bottle to it's finest mist setting. Put on any protective gloves or masks you wish to use and let's get started!
This is where I armed myself with my water/vinegar spray bottle in one hand and my looking glass spray in the other. First gently spray a fine mist of vinegar/water on the outside* of your glass container; you are looking for small droplets of water that bead up and do not run.
Follow up the water/vinegar spray almost immediately with a gentle and even layer of the metallic spray.
*Note about spray: if you are like me, you read all the directions and warnings on the looking glass spray before using, so you know it requires lots of shaking before and between use and recommends using on the inside of the glass — this is where you need to trust me — I (gasp) used it on the outside of the glass. I did this because I wanted to actually be able to put things like flowers and candles inside the containers and the end result was good for me, so I'm just putting it out there.
Allow to dry for just a minute and apply another fine mist of water/vinegar solution — then let them sit. Here's what our glass containers looked like as they began to dry with both sprays applied — notice the fine beading from the water/vinegar solution creating variations in the mirror spray:
Allow to dry for about 2 minutes, then gently blot the beads of water/vinegar with your paper towel — they should lift off areas of the mirror spray in a varied pattern. Don't rub very hard as the metallic finish will streak, though you can apply gentle pressure in various places to achieve a more realistic and varied mercury glass look. Don't worry that the glass is still see-through at this point, since you'll be doing several thin layers to build up the look over time.
Just repeat the same process over and over, and rotating between resting your glass container on its base versus its top so you get full coverage. All in all I probably went with between 3-4 coats in total.
You want to go with several thin and even layers of the spray to avoid runniness and splotching — trust me, the end result is worth the patience. Keep building up your layers until you are happy with the overall look and feel of your containers — then allow to dry for at least 3 hours until bringing inside or off the protective covering; you want them to set and seal.
After your container is completely dry, now you are ready to either tweak or style. If you think an area needs a little more or less coverage you can simply spot treat with more spray or spray with more water/vinegar and continue to blot away the treatment — this is where you own creativity and taste come into play.
Once complete, the creative uses are endless. I played around with different flower arrangements around the house since I had some beautiful peonies on hand from Tim :)
I just love how the little distressed and antiqued details came out — they really do show as something that's been lightly worn away over time (something I was skeptical about going into this project).
On the milk bottle specifically, I was hoping the spray might just go right over the blue logo text to make it look like a single old milk bottle — while the spray didn't erase the text, it did completely seal it in a silvery look that almost pronounced it even more. I was surprisingly happy with the end result here.
You might also notice exactly how well the promise of "looking glass" or the mirror effect came into play as with each photo I tried really hard to avoid getting my own reflection — without luck, haha.
I've been really excited to try out this tutorial becuase I'm thinking a mix of several of these antiqued containers with other little vessels here and there might make really beautiful, not to mention affordable diy touches for our wedding decor next year — flowers and votives anyone? Tim and I are both really happy with the outcome of these test pieces, so we'll definitely be looking for more glass odds and ends over the next several months that could fit well together for the wedding reception.
Like I said in the beginning of the post, the possibilities for this antique mercury glass finish are endless so long as you start out with a clean piece of glass — I'm still dreaming up visions of lamps, groupings of mirrors and other accessories inspired by the images below:
Tim has been more on the fence with the whole antiqued mirror glass lamp idea, so this could be a great way to test it out on something bigger without breaking the bank.
Other ideas we thought of that might work well with this spray include:
- Candy Jars
- Furniture knobs
- Pillar candle holders
- Table or pendant lamps
- Glass holiday ornaments
- Colored glass votives or bottles
- Glass desk caddy or pen holder
- A serving tray or tray that holds candles
- An antique window with the panes sprayed as a mirror
And here's a little fuller view of our entryway with this little mix of glass vases updating the look with some color and shine since the last time we had flowers in this space:
They've added a colorful update to these little spaces and were fun to pair up with a few green glass water bottles we had laying around too. Find our full house tour here.
All in all, we both love how well this faux finish turned out and couldn't be more excited to share it with each of you since it was so simple! Keep us posted should you try it out — we'd love to see what you come up with.
So what do you think — would you try this? What piece of glass would you transform with fun diy this finishing technique?
UPDATE: I tried the Krylon Looking Glass Spray for another project, updating the finials on our bathroom window hardware — check out the results here.