Project: silver foiling a mirror frame

Did you know mirrors are pretty pricey? If you try to find one, made of real wood (not plastic) it can be in the hundreds of dollars. However, junk and antique shops have plenty of reasonable priced mirrors. They are also one of the easiest projects to work with and can easily be changed to suit any room.

Upon junk/antique shopping I found this mirror (mirror glass has been removed for painting in the photo) hidden at the back of a vendors cubicle for $69. It’s rather large at 25.5″ x 38″ and was quite heavy. It was painted a bronze-gold color probably popular in the 1970’s. So I started with a primer – since it has a lot of ornamentation I switched from a brush to a spraycan.

…and ended up with a black mirror, touched up with a bit of lighter glaze, that I thought would work in the downstairs bath. But after leaning it against the wall in there for a week, it was too much black – too Gothic – for a bathroom that was going to be light and airy with shades of blue, white and silver.

After selecting the other artwork for the bathroom, I decided to go with a silver foil (leaf was too expensive) which can be found at Hobby Lobby (and other craft/hobby stores). This entire package of 25 leaves was used for this project.

First spray or brush on an adhesive and then apply pieces of foil one at a time, using a clean brush to pick up the paper and to tap it down on the surface. In the end, everything was so sticky, that I found that it was easier to just use my hands.

a large piece worked best for me
once it is down, you can’t reposition it

This mirror had some lovely corner decorations and I wanted the silver foil to be broke up a bit, showing some of the black. My plan was to let alot of the black show through so this worked out well, however, if you have a highly ornamented piece, realize you will have a lot of cracking of the foil and will need more foil if you want it covered completely.

Use a brush to tap the foil down

General tips on foiling:

  • It’s pretty messy so do it outside.
  • Depending on how fast you work, you may want to do one section at a time before applying more adhesive, especially if you are working over a large area.
  • Laying down one large piece was easier to me then trying to do smaller pieces.
  • I used a brush to push down the foil into the crevices; be aware that any brush used, will be destroyed by the end of the job due to glue.
  • The adhesive is quite sticky- go with a light spray coat instead of heavy.
    You can always go back over it if need be.
  • Once the foil is applied, if you want to fill in gaps in the silver, just put down more foil. It attaches quickly and using the brush gently over the top presses pieces together, and blends all the foil.
  • The spray adhesive and top protective coat spray are both extremely smelly (think model airplane glue) so be sure to do it in a ventilated room (would not recommend your house).

The end result was too shiny – it was a bit too Christmas ornament looking LOL!, so I first knocked it back with a very light spray of white (very light!). Then I glazed some areas with Pearl paint, Blue Winter Fox color (leftover from bathroom ceiling) mixed with transculent glaze. After drying four hours, it’s sprayed with a topcoat (metals, including metal foils, will oxide if left unprotected).

click any photos to see a closeup
finished mirror!

PS to find out how to hang a heavy mirror, look at the next post!

P.S.S. I also love this mirror re-do at Before and After using the product Rub’nBuf. It’s a bit softer then the above mirror but still with some silver.

2 thoughts on “Project: silver foiling a mirror frame

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