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Friday 24 August 2012

An upcycled mirror

Many years ago when it was possible for a single girl, on a less than average salary, to buy a small flat on her own, I bought my first ever home. It was a tiny basement flat, in a rather rough part of town, but it was all mine (and the bank's) so I decided to put my stamp on it.

It was the era of rag-rolling and other paint effects madness, so I duly colour washed, sponged and rag-rolled every possible wall. When there were no more walls left to vandalise, I set to work on the furniture, liming, distressing, staining and verdigrising every poor, unsuspecting piece of junk shop find I could get my hands on! Some of my efforts were more successful than others, many have since been consigned to the skip but one particular mirror is still with me some •¡÷÷ (oops, my keyboard has suddenly refused to do numbers!) years later, and has lasted the test of changing tastes. It also happens to be a damn useful mirror.

Another home and a search for a new mirror.
Recently, we've been looking for a mirror for our bedroom but haven't been able to find anything suitable. Then, just last week, I discovered a mirror that was the perfect shape and size. The only drawback was that it was cased in a heavy, Arts & Crafts dark oak frame, which really doesn't tie in with the rest of our furniture. Nevertheless, we bought the mirror in agreement that the bedroom doesn't have to be quite as light or linear as the rest of the flat, and, because it's silly to be slaves to one particular look.

But could I live with such a gloomy frame? Absolutely not! So out came the paint brushes and paint, and, a reprisal of my role of paint effects mistress (not quite so) extraordinaire. After much umming and ahhing I finally decided to go for a distressed look with touches of verdigris. Here's how I did it…

  1. Lightly smear a coat of vaseline along the edge of the mirror to prevent any paint spillages sticking to the glass. Cover the glass with cling film and paper to further protect against spillages. Sand the frame to remove old varnish and dirt.
  2. Roughly paint the frame in a whitish colour of your choice. I used an off-white with an added dash of red acryllic as I wanted the paint to look as if it had discoloured with age.
  3. With, loose, sweeping brushstrokes, add patches of green to the frame. Aim your brushstrokes to hit the edges and raised areas from the same direction.
  4. Add a thin layer of white paint.
  5. Very roughly buff the frame with sand paper, concentrating on the edges and raised areas until some of the green layer is revealed.
  6. Gently sweep another layer of green paint over a few, well-chosen, parts of the frame. To get a little more depth or colour, this time, use a different shade of green.
  7. Apply a very thin layer of white paint. Don't worry about totally covering the frame, as the best effect is a achieved by letting each layer show through. Then, roughly buff the frame with sand paper, concentrating on the edges and raised areas until some of the layers below are revealed.
  8. Add a fine mist of gold spray paint. You don't want full coverage and the paint should hit the frame from one direction only.
  9. Finally, keeping your wrist soft and 'flicky' add whisps of white paint, in order to de-intensify the gold.

Tip: I've used pea greens, rather than the bluey-greens typically associated with verdigris, but you can use any colours you like: greys, purples, even pinks–perhaps something that tones with your existing decor–whatever tickles your fancy!

I'm happy with the result, but Patrick is worried by my newfound enthusiasm for upcycling. And so he should be–those vintage ercol chairs look as if they could do with a makeover to me!


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