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Turning Glass into Faux Mercury Glass Tutorial

07 June 2011

Turning Glass into Faux Mercury Glass  Tutorial

Anna sent in this project to be featured ages ago and it has been on my to do list ever since!  I have a huge window that I bought (see this post) thinking it would be cool in my family room, and now I don't love it.  So, I want to do this tutorial on it and put it on our back porch... I will add it to the list of projects I want to do when I have a few free hours- which means who knows when that will happen... but someday it will!

I am so very excited to share this tutorial, because I love the look of mercury glass (especially during the holiday season) but amassing a collection of it could get pretty expensive.

About a month ago I actually tried to recreate the look with regular metallic spray paint, but I wasn't thrilled with the results (I'm picky!) so I was tickled when I stumbled upon Krylon's Looking Glass spray paint.

(Do people still say they're 'tickled'? Because I was.)

Step 1: Gather some glass that would benefit from mercury-ization (to use a technical term).

The larger hurricane I got ages ago at Walmart or JoAnn or something for less than $10, and the two smaller ones were from a dollar store.

Step 2: Start spraying the Looking Glass paint onto the inside of the glass. I held the hurricanes in my hand so they were laying on their sides and applied the paint in quick bursts, then rotated the glass to get the next area. The key here is to be very light in your applications -- this paint is thin and runny and doesn't leave much room for gloppy errors. 

Let it rest for about a minute (it dries fast) and repeat. The instructions call for 5 applications with 1 minute drying time in between each.

After one coat, the glass will just have a bit of a reflective shimmer to it, but you will still be able to see through it.

And here below you can see the squeal-inducing magic happening. As the paint dries, it turns from the classic spray paint metallic look to the actual mirror-like finish. You can actually watch it happening, it dries so quickly.

Loooooooove it!

Here are the hurricanes after 5 or so coats:

Now here comes to important/tricky-ish part (don't worry it's not really difficult, just pay attention):

Step 3: Start distressing. (you'll want to read this section, I promise)
I remembered reading on the great blog Vintage Revivals how Mandi had achieved an Anthropologie-like finish on a mirror by using some sort of chemical or acid to eat away at some of the metal on the backside of the mirror... and that gave me an idea; I figured I didn't need any harsh chemicals, since this was paint and not real metal on the back of the glass, so I made a mixture of 50% vinegar and 50% water and put it into a spray bottle. Acidic, right?

After letting the paint dry for 5-10 minutes, I sprayed the vinegar-water solution lightly into the inside of the hurricanes just to cover the surface with little beads:

 I tried to get the vinegar only on the bottom half so my hand inside the hurricane didn't accidentally rub off the finish on top while I was distressing the bottom. I did the top part of the hurricane after I was finished with the bottom.

I let the beads of vinegar-water sit for 20 seconds or so, depending on how long I had let the paint dry, and then it was time to begin!

For the purposes of this tutorial, I recreated the distressing process on a piece of glass from a small picture frame so I could take photos to illustrate how I achieved this specific finish:

  • I sprayed on the vinegar-water:
  • I took a paper napkin, folded it up and dampened it with the vinegar-water solution. I wanted everything that came in contact with the finish to be soft (kind of like fine sandpaper instead of rough, get it?)

  • I took the damp napkin and gently dabbed (up and down, not side to side) the beads of vinegar, and voila! The vinegar had started to eat away at the paint (this worked better if I only let the paint dry a few minutes rather than an hour or so... I had to rub a bit more on drier paint).

  • Then I gently started to rub the damp napkin in circles to widen those distressed areas and start sloughing off more of the paint. I found that using the pads of my fingers when rubbing with the napkin, versus the tips of my fingers, helped lessen the pressure and the chance of giant flakes of paint coming loose:

  •  Use your judgment to achieve your 'ideal' look -- I sprayed a bit more vinegar on and then rubbed verylightly because I wanted a scattering of very tiny holes too, not just the larger ones I had rubbed off:

  • I finished it off with one or two very light coats of the Looking Glass spray paint, to add a bit of dimension to the spots that had no paint -- I still wanted them to glow, shimmer, look a tad mirror-y... pick your word!

Step 4: (Optional, but recommended) Apply some sort of protective coat, like a clear spray to the inside of your glass. (And remember, don't put live plants or food into a container that you've sprayed)

Here's the finished product:

UpdateWondering if the Looking Glass spray paint is necessary? Check this post out...


Amy June 7, 2011 at 8:30 PM  

This is great! I did a similar project using Krylon's Chrome Aluminum spray paint (it was before we had a Hobby Lobby & I couldn't find the Looking Glass ANYWHERE! So I improvised!). Mine worked out pretty good, but definitely looks more "gray" than it does like a mirror. But my technique still worked the same. I definitely want to try yours out! Thanks for sharing!

Here's mine:

Julianne June 7, 2011 at 8:36 PM  

Wow, this is incredible! I have tons of clear class containers laying around waiting for this tutorial! Thank you for sharing!


lisaroyhandbags June 8, 2011 at 7:03 AM  

this looks amazing!! I've never seen that spray paint before - I wonder if it's available everywhere...? I MUST try this! :)

Anna @ Take the Side Street June 8, 2011 at 9:14 AM  

Thanks ladies!

I found the paint at Hobby Lobby, and I later discovered it was at my Michael's store as well but I had missed it because I had been looking in the spray paint section instead of the GLASS paint section. Just make sure to use a handy 40% coupon to reduce the cost a bit when you do go buy it :)

Melodie June 8, 2011 at 9:43 AM  

I am so excited about this tutorial! I have wanted to create my own mercury glass for ages. I can't wait to try this!

Jess June 8, 2011 at 3:43 PM  

this is amazing! I love this look for the holidays as well. what a great way to turn inexpensive hurricanes into something gorgeous... that YOU created! It would be great if they came out with different colored sprays. Great job


Heidi August 7, 2011 at 3:40 PM  

My sister and I are using this for our other sister's wedding open house next month. We're using largish glass votives, as well as some little colored ones. We think the colored ones will be VERY pretty when we're done. Thanks for posting!

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