Play around with possible bowl arrangements on the floor until you come up with a loose idea of how you'd like the bowls to look on the wall.
When we registered for wedding gifts, my husband and I knew little about what items (beyond the obvious) would be worth their storage space. Many were functional but not pretty, and most others were pretty but definitely not functional. Such was the case with our mountain of salad bowls, which proved themselves unusable as food receptacles after their first use, but later made a beautiful reincarnation as mirrors.
Like many wood items from mainstream retailers, our wooden salad bowls looked rustic and hardy in the store, but were extremely sensitive even with light use, and came to look cheap and flimsy after a single use. The first time we used them, forks left what looked like warrior spear marks on the bottom of the bowl and the acidic salad dressing literally peeled off the stained finish — not appetizing! Still I liked their shape and finish (or at least what was left of it), and couldn't see justifying tossing twelve — yes, we registered for twelve salad bowls — bowls into the dumpster. The store would not accept a return because it had been several years since we had registered for them (they sat in their original boxes unopened at my in-laws while we moved around the country for school), so I sought out another use.
That was about the time that the old mirror in our dining room started to look completely wrong— too small and too rigid. I wanted something a little more youthful and with the right proportions, so I decided to give the bowls a shot. Since the bottom of several bowls needed to be covered up due to the salad dressing damage, I thought they would make perfect candidates. The process couldn't have been easier — or lighter on my wallet.
• wooden bowls (light weight ceramic ones would work too)
• eye hooks (or adhesive plate hangers)
• round craft mirrors (any craft store will carry them or you can find them online at Create For Less
• clear glass adhesive (I used E6000 industrial strength clear medium viscosity)
• painters tape
• small nails
• Play around with possible bowl arrangements on the floor until you come up with a loose idea of how you'd like the bowls to look on the wall. In my case I wanted them to look loosely arranged but fluid and not too random, so I kept them fairly close together. I also left one hanging one un-mirrored next to a small stack of extras to make it look like they had jumped off the stack onto the wall.
• Use painters tape to mark the placement spots on the wall. Often the arrangement will look different on a vertical surface than on a horizontal surface, and this step ensures that you will not make nail hole mistakes. Or you can cut out paper templates and affix them to the wall.
• Hammer a nail into the place between the painters tape x mark, or, if using, into the top of your paper template.
• Select the correct size mirrors by measuring the diameter of the inside of your bowls at the depth where you'd like to place the mirror. In my case, my bowls were 8" diameter at the opening, and I used 5" mirrors.
• Place a thin layer of adhesive around the edge of the mirror. It's easier to control the amount of adhesive if you squeeze some onto a q-tip and spread it lightly onto the mirror's edge.
• Place mirror in the bowl, pushing it down until it fits snugly. This part is tricky to do without getting a little messy, so you might want to keep a rag on hand to wipe off any adhesive that gets on your fingers, bowl, or mirror.
• Let the mirror bowls sit flat overnight to let the adhesive cure.
• Use tiny eye hooks to screw into the bowls just a little bit up from the bowl's base (at a slight angle so the bowl base will be flat against the wall when hung), or use adhesive plate hangers on the back of the base.
• Hang bowls on nails.
Sidenote: A variety of bowl and mirror size could look really cool. Since completing my project a few years ago, I've noticed a few mainstream retailers selling similar items, all of which are easily pulled off as a DIY project using the instructions above.
In case you missed it, former Apartment Therapy Boston bloggers, Wes & Kayla, created a magnificent hanging display with their round pottery (pictured below). Since their pottery was ceramic, they used adhesive plate hangers for mounting. Check out detailed instructions: How To Hang A Wall Of Pots.
Images: 1-8: Leah Moss, 9: Wes & Kayla Schwartz