Sunday, November 6, 2011

Faux Mercury Glass How To

 I ADORE Mercury Glass.  My sister gave me a set of 3 large Pottery Barn Mercury Glass candlesticks oh, probably 18 years ago... when Mercury Glass first hit the mainstream.  I was so taken by the silver/black, dirty, old, textured glass.  I have continued to love all things Mercury Glass.  I have added a few other pieces over time until Mercury Glass has the centerpiece of all my decorating.  I love the silver color and texture of Mercury Glass but it is showing up in other delicious colors and I have some amazing green Mercury Glass pails. 

Last year I was browsing at the Pottery Barn in early October when I spotted an ad featured in the store that included these AMAZING Mercury Glass pumpkins.  I was thrilled…I ran to the nearest sales person and asked where these beauties were hanging out. I NEEEEEDED them. Oh,but it was not meant to be.  She informed me that the stores never got the pumpkins and they were sold out.  What?  How can they be sold out before they hit the stores?  I was literally devastated but while I was feeling sorry for myself, I thought about the Mercury Glass technique that I had been wanting to try for literally 6+ years.  This seemed the perfect project to finally give it a go.  
Back in the day I was an avid viewer of the Trading Space/Design  on a Dime/While You Were Out shows.  On one of the episodes the designer   used this technique to change the look of an inexpensive glass vase.  Ironically, I was at Home Depot soon after and the paint was on clearance.  Of course I grabbed it and….. then never used it.  Better now than never...Operation Pumpkin was launched.  

First, I had to find a pumpkin that allowed me to spray the inside so a hallow pumpkin with a lid was imperative.  I figured they would be easy to find but when I made the first set 3 years ago, I looked everywhere and was about to give up when my mom called, she had found some at Meijers (a large grocery store chain in Michigan).  She bought several and I found some at Target.  I made something like 12 that first year.  I gave some away and kept a bunch. They look terrific sprinkled all over the house as you can see in the photo.  
I was shopping at Target in early October of this year and they had the pumpkins again this year.  They sell for less than $5.  I am showing you how to make the pumpkin but also some vases and candlesticks (Yes, I intended to have the pumpkin tutorial before Halloween but I didn't get it done).  Faux mercury glass is deceptively simple to make at home.   In less than 30 minutes I had a pumpkin, 2 candlesticks and 2 vases.

You will get the best results on items that allow you to spray the inside or back of the item rather than the outside.  My glass pumpkins are perfect because the lid comes off allowing me to spray the inside of the bowl and the inside of the lid.   The candlesticks I just sprayed the outside- they aren’t as pretty and only will work if they are placed up high but I didn’t care because they are from the Dollar Store and left over from a party.

On to the tutorial….

Faux Mercury Glass Tutorial

Begin by picking the windiest day possible.  Yes, it was so windy today that I had to tape the paper down to the table.  On the upside, all that wind helped the paint dry faster.  

1.  Gather your supplies and cover your work surface
2.  You will need:

  • The glass item you want to paint.
  • Windex or soap-and-water to clean the glass.
  • Newspaper or plastic bags to keep the paint off the outside of your item.
  •  Masking tape- you don't need to use painter's tape-regular masking tape works.
  • A spray bottle filled with water. Do not use a micro-mist sprayer. 
3.  The Piece de resistance? 

Krylon Looking Glass Spray Paint.
This paint is the secret to beautiful decorative glass pieces.  Actually the MAGIC happens when Looking Glass Paint meets water.  

After looking everywhere for this delicious paint, I finally found it at Michael's WITH THE GLASS PAINT- not with the regular paint.  I struck out at Home Depot and Lowe's and frankly I can't remember if I checked Hobby Lobby- I was there but don't remember looking for Looking Glass paint. 

4.  You MUST cover the outside of the object to keep any paint from getting on it.  I was lazy and didn't cover some of the Dollar Store candlesticks.  The overspray and drips made a mess and I had to throw them away. 

You can use newspaper but I find grocery store plastic bags are really easy to use and there is no risk of the paint soaking in.  I put the item INSIDE the bag and use masking tape to secure it to the glass.
Be sure to cover the rim- the allusion of mercury glass looks best when the paint is viewed through the glass not on the glass.  I use the tape to cover the edge/rim and the plastic to cover everything below the tape.  This way I only need to be sure the tap is on the edge where I need it to be precise.  I catch the plastic in the bottom edge of the tape and simply wrap the plastic around the glass, securing it so that no holes remain. 
I carefully taped the pumpkin jar lid.
 5.  Spray a mist of water onto the inside surface of the glass.  When I made the pumpkins 3 years ago I used a very fine mist of water and not a lot and the finished pumpkins don't have the large holes that real Mercury Glass has.  This time I went for a lot of water and ended up having to dump the extra out.  A happy medium would be best.  You want a few large drops of water to bead up but not so much water that it all pools in the bottom of the jar.
6.  Spray the Looking Glass Paint directly onto the water. 
7.  Paint in thin coats like any spray paint, letting them dry between…well sort of dry…. there is water involved so it doesn't dry perfectly.  I let the pumpkins and the vases dry upside down. 

8.  I used 3 thin coats on pumpkin and vases and 2 coats on the candlesticks.  Pull off the tape and plastic and let them dry all the way- it was windy so mine didn't take long at all to dry.

9.  The candlesticks are el cheapos so I didn't care if they were ruined.  I sprayed them on the outside and they look great for Dollar Store candlesticks but the shine is different.  They will be great up on top of my cabinets.  

3 years ago I made a mirror that is hanging in my living room.  I simply took a picture frame and sprayed the back of the glass.  Done.  It doesn't photograph well- it just looks like a mirror. 

That's It!  Easy…..What do you want to make into Mercury Glass?

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  1. Thanks for the tutorial. I will have to give this a try.

  2. Oh my geeze louise! Awesome, I just saw some candlesticks out of red mercury glass at Target that I want. Now I'm going to dig through my old glassware to do this. I wonder if it will work with red?

  3. Woo Hoo! Just what I was looking for! I've been collecting a few glass pieces to use this paint on-- thanks for the tips!
    Visiting from TT&J

  4. Wow, I must try this...thanks for the tutorial.
    Looks so cool!

  5. Totally cute...thanks for the tut...I will be doing this.


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