E-Instructions for Etched Mirror Project

As seen in the Spring/Summer 2011 issue of Flea Market Style Magazine

I am thankful to Ki and all of the Flea Market Style team for including my etched mirror project in the Spring/Summer issue of Flea market Style Magazine. Because of this I am making this tutorial public for a short time. You will find expanded and more detailed instructions for this project below. I hope you enjoy it, and please check out my other tutorials here

For this project, you'll need a mirror, Paper, Pencil, Scissors, razor blade scraper and or scraping tools, paper towels, Carbon paper, Optional: mirror silvering remover chemical, information about this chemical below.

Mirrors are generally 3 layers, Glass, Silvering, and paint sealant. When you look at the back of a mirror and see a dull finish, that is a paint sealer. Update: Removing the paint is optional. For many mirrors you can simply scrape the paint and the silvering off at the same time, using the scraping technique that I'll show you. I recommend using old mirrors that have signs of the silvering already coming off. These are the easiest to work with. If you wish to remove the paint layer, you can use any paint remover, however I prefer the scraping method, as it give you more control over the design. Wear gloves, as paint remover can really burn, and eye protection. I mean it!!!!

The mirror I'm using here is an old mirror, part of the silvering was already coming off, I just continued the process.

You'll need to make your design. For mine I decided to write the word JOY. I found a font on my computer that I liked, and enlarged it to the desired size. You could also use a stencil for this, or even go for a design instead of a word. Keep it simple at first.

If you have the ability to reverse the image on your computer, then do that, then print it. If you can't reverse it, no biggie. Just turn the paper over and trace the image on the back to see it better an then transfer it to the back of the mirror. To transfer it to the mirror back, I simply used carbon paper, Remember to turn your letters backwards, as they will be viewed from the other side. Also be careful to line up your design or words carefully. Measuring and making sure they are strait.

Scraping Method:
Using my scraping tools, I began to scrape the silvering off from the back side.I recommend the tool kit below, but any scraping tools could be used. BE CAREFUL!!!

Sometimes a circular motion worked best, sometimes just strait back & forth. Go Slowly and carefully and don't cut yourself.

Continue scraping, and checking from the front until the desired amount of silvering is removed. This may take awhile so be patient. Remember you are not going for a "perfect" look. Ragged edges are OK.

As I was scraping, I kept a wet cloth, close by to clean up the shavings. This kept my work field clean so I could see what I was doing.

Then move on to the next letter

What if the paint comes off but the actual silvering is stubborn?
I tried, Paint Thinner, Acetone, and Stripper, Turpentine,and Oven Cleaner . None of them worked. If you use these chemicals, be sure to do it outside, with plenty of skin and eye protection. I did find this product,Mirror Silvering Remover on-line.
I tried it with older mirrors and once the paint is removed from the back, the silvering remover does work to remove the silver. This product is worth it if you will be doing several mirrors. It helps to get the last bit of silvering off and saves the effort of extra scraping. You may need to let it sit for awhile and I use a q-tip to rub it in as I wait.
You can view the You-Tube video demonstration here. However, I did not find that it worked exactly as the video shows. But it is a good product, and does not have a strong smell.

Making a curved word, and additional techniques:
I used a plate to get a perfect curve, Then I placed my letters where I wanted them to be. Making sure they are centered, and spelled correctly

Traced and began scraping

After I had all or most of the paint scraped off, I used the Mirror Silvering Remover to get the silvering off. You could just continue scraping if you don't have the MSR

Continued with each letter until I was happy with the result

Take It To The Next Level:

Add designs, instead of words. Above you see me working on my Eiffel tower. Below you can see a clock face that I did and below that, is a design added to a word. It can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it.

Now for some fun, you can place or decoupage decorative papers behind the design to suit the season, or occasion.

My Favorite is old sheets of Music

Or place nothing at all behind it.

This is one I use as a sign to my place at Winnie & Tulula's Antique Mall. I simply glued it go an old chippy piece of wood, and then glued an oval frame around it.

Have fun with this project. Etch your name, or use a decorative stencil. Do the edges of the mirror for an even more elegant effect, or do a reverse of this process and remove all the silvering, leaving only your word or message in silver. It takes time, but could be a real unique and fun project for your home.

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Detailed tutorials for some of my favorite projects. View the complete list here


I'd like to say a quick word about safety. Remember Soldering irons, solder and the items being soldered, are hot. Blades, glass, and broken china can be sharp. Please use common sense when doing any of these projects. Use Caution with saws and other tools. Remember to wear gloves and eye protection when needed. We want you to enjoy years of junking and crafting, so please play it safe.