How To Create an Antique Mirror Effect

Mclain Wiesand, a Baltimore-based custom furniture company, has made a name for itself by producing handcrafted pieces that capture the feel of real antiques. One of the techniques they use for aging mirror is wonderfully simple and serves as the inspiration for this how to.

Creating an antique mirror effect is an inexpensive way to revamp a flea market find, or add a new layer of interest and depth to an ordinary wall mirror. Almost any type of mirror can be aged using this technique, including mirrored plexiglass.

Supplies
• Mirrored glass or plexiglass. Due to the type of paint applied to the reflective coating, inexpensive, craft-store mirror works wonderfully.
• Latex or other gloves for hand protection.
• Paint stripper. Most types work fine. For a less toxic product, Citristrip works well.
• Plastic putty spreader or putty knife.
Modern Masters Metal Effects Black Patina. This patina solution is essentially an acid that eats at the reflective surface of the mirror. There are probably other products that work similarly, but Modern Masters products work well and can be found online or in most art supply stores or specialty paint stores.
• 1” chip brush (or similar brush).
• Silver paint of choice.

Steps

Step 1: (Image 2, above)

Wearing gloves, place mirror face down on cardboard or other protected surface in a well-ventilated area. Apply stripper generously to back of mirror and allow to sit for a few hours, or until paint can be easily removed with plastic scraper. It is not necessary for all of the paint to be removed; generally speaking, 80-90% should suffice. When paint has been stripped, wash mirror with soap and water and allow to dry.

Step 2: (Images 3 & 4)

Place stripped mirror face down on clean cardboard or other protected surface. Dip chip brush in Modern Masters Metal Patina Solution and gradually apply it to the raw reflective surface of the mirror. As mirror tends to age from the edges inward, it is best to apply patina solution in heavier amounts around the edges of the mirror. In a matter of minutes (or less), the patina solution will begin to eat away at the reflective surface. Other application techniques that produce nice effects are spattering and light directional brushing of patina solution. Continue applying solution until desired level of ageing is achieved. Rinse with water to neutralize the reaction and allow to dry.

Step 3: (photos 5 & 6)

This next step involves reapplying paint to the back of the mirror. The color paint you choose will be visible through the spots created by the patina solution. The dark areas of aged antique mirrors tend to be a dark silver-grey but depending on the silvering technique used, can range from gold to pale silver to black. One method that produced nice results is a combination of dark and light silver paints, applied randomly (per images). Apply paint until the reflective surface is completely covered.

Images: Mclain Wiesand