Faux Antiqued Mercury Glass Vases

Faux Antiqued Mercury Glass Vases

I love how easy it is to transform .99 glass items from a thrift store into antiqued (or regular shiny) mercury glass imitators! Honestly, I often can’t tell a difference between real mercury glass and fake – and never from a distance. I have to pick it up to really tell.

For less than $10 I now have this collection of antiqued mercury glass vases for a decorative grouping – instead of the $100 or so it would cost retail.

So I get a look I want and money still in my pocket – what’s not to love?

thrift store vases before

I started out with three .99 thrift store glass items: two sundae glasses and one tall vase. I was looking specifically for ribbed containers to use as vases so the antiquing would show up more – and I’m here to say you can find vases and containers like this all.the.time.

Seriously, this is the kind of stuff thrift stores are littered with. All the better that we’re going to give them a new life, huh?

There are lots of tutorials I’ve seen over the past couple of months, but the most recent was posted by Leslie D. over on Hometalk (have you checked it out yet? It’s a fun place all about DIY and home decor). She used an equal mix of water and vinegar to create the worn looking surface of antiqued mercury glass, but I wanted a quicker and more uniform cover, so I used only water, misting before spraying a layer to get the look I wanted.

antique faux mercury glass steps

How to make fake antiqued mercury glass:
  1. Gather your materials: spray  bottle of water (or equal vinegar-water mix, your choice), Krylon’s Looking Glass Spray Paint (link to Amazon provided because it’s hard to find in stores) and clean glass item to transform.
  2. Mist glass item with water (inside OR outside, even though directions say inside only – I chose outside so the vases would be able to hold water), spray with a light coating of paint and then blot with a clean cloth. The cloth removes the paint on top of the water droplets, leaving the antiqued, worn surface. Rubbing with the cloth leaves bigger spots. I did both – blotting and rubbing – to get a nice uneven surface. Yep, this is one of those times we’re trying to get an uneven surface.
  3. Repeat the layers until you’re satisfied. It’s pretty easy to play around with it to get the look you want. For the last one or two layers I used only the paint so that the vases would be totally covered with silver.

Oh, and have you noticed that the little compote in these photos is nowhere to be seen in the rest of the post? That’s because it was a fail – sort of. I wanted to see if a clear coat sealer would work over the Looking Glass paint to give it extra protection. Can you guess the answer? Yep – it fogged it up so it no longer had that mirror-like finish. Lesson learned.

Fortunately, Brian suggested I spray it with Oil-Rubbed Bronze spray paint (what a man!) and it instantly revived the poor thing! You can see the end result here on our living room shelves.

ribbed faux mercury glass vases

Fortunately, the ribbed vases turned out great. They aren’t too “holey” (not sure how else to describe it), but have a slightly worn silver surface that reminds me of actual vintage pieces.

And since they are sprayed on the outside, they are safe to hold water and use as actual vases without harming the silvered finish.

ginger jar faux mercury glass vases

To give you an idea of the difference between shiny, new-looking mercury glass and antiqued, here are three thrift store ginger-jar-shaped glass vases I sprayed almost 10 years ago with the same Looking Glass paint (yep, it’s been around that long).

This is a nice look, too, and it’s the same solid silver finish I used on the mercury glass pumpkin I transformed earlier in the series.

These vases were sprayed on the inside (that was back when I obediently obeyed directions…), so I can only use them empty or with dried floral arrangements. But they are nice around the holidays.

faux mercury glass vases

And when grouped with the antiqued vases, it looks like a rich collection I’ve got going.

Martha Stewart at Macy’s, Pottery Barn, Ballard Designs – at these outlets a grouping like this really would be over $100 – but you can get six faux mercury glass pieces for less than $20 with paint and cast-off glass pieces.

Though you’ll have to do without the reflection of me taking a picture. Darn.

Have you  transformed a glass piece with paint? Leave a comment!

31-days-thrift-store-transformationsThis is day 18 in our series (you can click on the button to see all the posts in the category). If you’re wondering what’s up, you can read the introduction to 31 Days of Thrift Store Transformations here.

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  1. says

    This is a great idea, will have to try this. I have a lot of cylinder glass vases and other vases from my oldest daughters wedding last year to experiment on. I have used frosted spray paint on vases before and glass paints on wine and dessert glasses to add decorations to. Picked up a whole collection of varied champagne glasses at thrift store for less than a quarter a piece and painted little flowers or dots on them to use a small floating candle holders for a womens tea. Even if someone doesn’t have artistic skills these can easily be done with very simple dot flowers or q-tip color dots. Will definately try this technique. Have never worked with mirror paint before, like that this doesn’t have to be perfect to enjoy the benefits.

  2. Pina Finazzo says

    Hi There,
    I looked all over the web for a tutorial on painting the vase on the outside so I could actually put water in it and use it for live flowers. My question is, is will the paint rub or chip off with handeling and is there some sort of spray protector that will slow that wear process down. Thanks, Pina

    • says

      Yes, Pina, it may rub/chip off (depends on what the vase is made of and how often it gets used) and if you spray it with a clear protector, my experience has been that it dulls the mercury glass effect – makes it look just like a regular stainless steel. Hope that helps a bit!

      • Suzanne Heronemus says

        Do you know if it might work to spray the inside with Looking Glass paint as directed and then spray a clear coat of protection over that so as to be able to use live flowers? I really want to do this project and have the maximum amount of shine while using the vases for flowers at my son’s wedding. Thanks!

        • says

          You can try that, Suzanne, but I don’t know if it will stay on. Though if it flakes, it will look just more antiqued, don’t you think? :)

  3. says

    I need to create a variety of mercury glass vases for an upcoming wedding. I’m actually looking for gold. Do you think that working in a coat of shiny gold paint would do the trick?

  4. says

    I am looking into gold mercury glass vases for a wedding and may give this a try. I spray all my mercury glass vases with clear enamel so I can use them for flower arrangements and it works fine.

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