Learn how to create an antique mirror with our step-by-step tutorial. Then add more flair by rubbing on a FREE spring floral transfer.
This step by step tutorial includes:
- Instructions for creating an antique mirror
- Instructions for rubbing on the FREE spring floral transfer
- FREE downloadable spring floral transfer
- Gallery of antique mirror photos
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of all?
My obsession for French country design led me to discover the charm of the antique mirror. If you’re reading this post than you most likely share my twitterpation for antique mirrors and don’t need any convincing. You will agree with me that antique mirrors add an extraordinary element of romantic sophistication to a room design. I’m head over heels, over the moon with antique mirrors.
In the beginning I was very concerned about “ruining” my grandmother’s mirror inherited upon her passing. The process of antiquing was a bit messy, but easy enough, and then the results were breathtaking. I had “loved” my grandmother’s mirror before but now I LOVE (heart, heart, heart) the mirror. It’s one of my favorite pieces in the house.
I’ve already treated a few mirrors for my home, but I also made some for my daughter’s vintage wedding. At the end of the post you’ll find a gallery of some of the finished mirrors. A few of the mirrors I enhanced further by rubbing on some floral transfers. I will show how to add the transfer and offer a FREE downloadable copy at the end of the mirror tutorial.
But first, if you have any fear, any reservations, about creating an antique mirror put them aside because this project will totally be worth it. I promise! Your mirror will be the fairest of them all.
- Mirror (don’t be afraid to transform that mirror that’s hanging on your wall, or visit the local thrift shop. The two mirrors featured in the tutorial were found for $10 each.)
- Gold Spray Paint (this can be used for both the frame and the mirror backing but you may prefer to choose a different color for the frame. I’m using gold spray paint and vintage blue chalk paint for my frames)
- Antique Wax (Behr Dark Interior Antique Wax is my preference)
- Paint Stripper & Stripping Tool
- Muriatic Acid (found in paint section of Home Depot)
- Spray Bottle
- Long, Thick Latex Gloves
- Paper Towels or Old Cloths
- Newspaper or Heavy Plastic Lining
When will my reflection show who i am inside?
Step 1: Find a work area that is well-ventilated. Prepare your work area by lining it with newspaper or heavy plastic lining. Prepare the mirror by removing the backing and mirror from the frame and laying them flat on your workspace.
Step 2: Start by spray painting the frame with the color of your choice. For this project I have chosen a gold spray paint for the rectangle mirror and as a base for the oval mirror. I will be adding a vintage blue coat to the oval mirror later. I have also used gray and black on past projects and they have all turned out beautifully, so don’t be afraid to choose something that fits your taste and style. Don’t overthink it.
Step 3: Turn the mirrors over so the back side is facing towards you. Spray liberally with paint stripper and let stand for an hour or two. When it starts to bubble begin scraping the backing from the mirror with a plastic joint knife or similar tool. You should begin to see the glass beneath. Be sure to remove the backing thoroughly from the mirror.
Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror
Step 4: Please take great care during these next steps. Muriatic acid is no joke. Make sure you are wearing heavy duty latex gloves and are in a well-ventilated area.
Pour some muriatic acid into a spray bottle. The acid, once sprayed onto the mirror, will eat through the reflective backing creating the “antique” effect. How much or little acid you use will determine how much you have antiqued your mirror. If you want a heavy effect use more acid if you want a lighter look use less. Spray carefully only in the areas where you want the effect. Use a paper towel or cloth to gently dab away the acid. Don’t leave it on the mirror indefinitely.
Step 5: Once the muriatic acid has been cleaned away, spray the back of the mirror thoroughly with a coat of gold spray paint. Let dry for several hours.
Every good house deserves a good mirror
Step 6: Rub some antique wax to the mirror frames. Work with the wax, rubbing on and off, until you have the desired antique effect.
Step 7: Once dry, replace the mirror and the backing into the frame.
Wonderland is just through the looking glass
Now your antique mirror is ready to dress your home. Don’t feel pressure to add any more flair because the mirror will definitely be beautiful on its own. But if you want to embellish your mirror even further here are a few ideas.
Add a wreath: I hung a boxwood wreath on my grandmother’s mirror and it’s just perfectly lovely. It makes me smile every time I look at it. A magnolia wreath (with lemons), cotton, or holly berry would also be gorgeous.
Add a transfer: rub on one of your favorite quotes or you can download our FREE Spring Floral Transfer (at the end of the post). You can add the names of the bride & groom as a welcome sign at a wedding. There are so many possibilities.
To add a transfer: print the design (in reverse!) onto wax paper, place wax paper onto mirror and rub thoroughly with an old credit card or a small plastic joint knife. Then peel back the wax paper and reveal the finished product.
Below is the oval mirror from the beginning of the post. I applied a coat of Vintage Blue chalk paint over the gold spray paint. Then I lightly sanded certain areas of the frame to expose the gold and finished it off with a coat of antique wax. The bride’s & groom’s names were added by rubbing on a transfer. (A FREE spring floral transfer will be offered at the end of the post).
A gallery of DIY Antique Mirrors
As I mentioned I have a few antique mirrors hanging in my house. My absolute favorite is my grandmother’s mirror (photo below). In its original form, it looked like it came right off the wall of the Dick Van Dyke show. The label on the back of the mirror even had the iconic 60s font, which isn’t a bad thing. However, I’m so glad I took the risk in transforming it into something that has a very personal touch, but still reminds me of my grandma. I love this mirror.
Transforming an IKEA mirror
I’m super proud of this next mirror because I made it into a fantastic feature piece in my living room. A friend was getting rid of her perfectly good IKEA mirror. I don’t know why she didn’t want it anymore but I took it off her hands and got to work. After some coats of gray chalk paint, some sanding, some antique wax, and adding metal brackets, I did something to make it really personal.
When we were in Ohio for the first time looking for houses we stayed at one of the oldest and longest operating inns in the country, THE GOLDEN LAMB (Lebanon, OH, one of the cutest little towns I have ever seen). It was deliciously historic and very charming. To commemorate our short time living in Ohio I made a GOLDEN LAMB transfer and placed it on the mirror. This 5 foot mirror commands any wall, adds so much beauty, and evokes wonderful memories for our family. It’s a treasure.
Some itty-bitty mirrors, too
Part of the decor for my daughter’s vintage wedding was a wall of mirrors. I found a pile of small mirrors at a second-hand store and gave some of them the antique treatment. The results were quite nice. Having a feature wall of mirrors in a bedroom or other living space is something I’d like to try in the near future. Would you give it a go?
Download the FREE Floral Transfer
This floral transfer can be used for so much more than embellishing an antique mirror. It comes in 8.5″ x 11″ format, in normal and reverse aspects, so it’s ready to apply to any of your projects. Please share with me what you are working on. I’m so interested to see the extraordinary things that people create everyday. People are so innovative and brilliant. I love it!
(Credit: Jayme Smith Graphic Design, Floral Elements from FreePik)
I hope these antique mirrors have inspired you, in one way or another. Whether to make one for yourself, or as a gift, or work on a different project entirely. Being creative is so theraputic and so empowering. Beautiful things do not necessarily equate to materialism, especially if those items hold special meaning or memories. They can continue to inspire us, every time we look at them. I’m always looking to create a lifestyle that constantly reminds me to be happy and to be a better person. xo Jayme #happyantiquing #antiquemirrorsareaddicting #moreantiquemirrors
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