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?
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.
How to make fake antiqued mercury glass:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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, 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.
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.
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!
This 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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