When we were stationed in Germany, we loved the painted mirrors often used for home decor. We even purchased a few to bring home with us.
My favorite mirror set was one that featured four individual young maidens, each representing one of the seasons. Of course, as fate would have it, two of the four mirrors were broken on the way back to the states.
Crushed over losing the mirrors, I finally concocted a way of making my own. First, let me say that I am not very talented when it comes to painting. I drew a lot as a child and even had a few successes in junior high. However, that talent seemed to slip away as a got older.
The point is you don’t need a lot of artistic talent for this process as long as you keep your choices simplistic in nature. So don’t let the lack of drawing skills hamper your decision to give this craft a try.
To begin, you will need several things including the following:
A flat surface to work on;
A mirror of that size and shape desired (in my case that was a rectangular mirror that measured 20″ in height and 8″ across);
A frame for the finished product;
A picture that you want to replicate on the mirror;
Permanent black ink;
A sharp quill or pen;
Acrylic or glass paint;
Paint brushes of varying size;
Glass cleaner and
Link free paper towels.
Before you begin, use glass cleaner on your mirror. It needs to be completely streak free. If you paint over those streaks, you will be stuck with them forever. Now you are ready to follow the step by step directions below to complete your project.
Step 1. Tape graphite paper onto the mirror so that it won’t move as you trace your picture onto the glass. Make certain it is straight and positioned top to bottom and right to left exactly where you want it. Also make sure it is a big enough sheet to trace the picture you will be using.
Step 2. Lay the picture you have chosen to replicate on top of the graphite paper. Again, make sure it is positioned perfectly and taped down securely before you begin.
Step 3. Using a sharp quill or pen, trace the picture onto the mirror. Check periodically to make sure the picture is transferring properly onto the mirror. If not, you are likely not pushing hard enough. However, be careful not to move the paper or your picture may be ruined.
Step 4. Remove the picture and graphite paper. Make sure that the tape used to hold the paper in place is cleaned away from the mirror.
Step 5. Using a permanent black ink (like India ink), trace over the graphite lines. Be careful to follow the lines exactly; not going inside or outside the graphite pattern. Let the ink dry completely. Ink in every aspect of the picture, even those areas too small to paint because the ink will provide the detail needed.
Step 6. Remove any excess graphite from the mirror using glass cleaner and a lint free paper towel.
Step 7. Decide what colors you want to use on your picture. (Note: In my case, since the autumn and spring mirrors were broken, I went with the colors typically associated with those seasons).
Step 8. Choose the type of paint you want to use. Glass paint is smoother and easier to use without leaving bumps and ridges from brush strokes. However, it is mostly transparent and that may not be the look you want. Acrylic paint is opaque but can leave bumps and ridges unless you thin it slightly with water. (Note: Since my other mirrors were opaque in nature, I used acrylic craft paint thinned down to one part water and three parts paint).
Step 8. Begin painting in your picture using the appropriate brushes for the job. Start with the lightest colors first and move to the darker colors. Fill in the smallest areas and then work toward those that are larger. Continue until all of the colors are filled in.
I recommend letting each color dry completely before moving onto another color. That way there is little or no paint transfer among colors.
Step 9. Let the mirror dry completely before attempting to frame it.
Step 10. Frame the mirror and hang it or use it anyway you desire. Don’t think just about wall art. This process can also be used to make a beautiful vanity or serving tray, to decorate mirrored tables or to highlight medicine cabinets, vanity mirrors or compacts. The only limitation is your imagination.
If you are making the mirror as a gift, I suggest signing it in small letters or adding your initials, with black permanent ink, somewhere on the mirror. That way, every time the gifted individual looks at it, she will think of you.