Vintage mirrors have such an old antique feel to them and can add such a sense of glamour with their ornate frames. The results of mirror restoration can be very unpredictable and that is why there is companies out there like aldgatehome.com as they restore mirrors into window frames to create beautiful outdoor look window finishes. Restoring the glass of a very old mirror can be a very delicate process and a thorough but extremely gentle cleaning of the glass is just the first step! Below we have a step by step of how to restore a mirror yourself:
- Always make to remove the mirror from the actual frame but you’ve got to be so careful. Not only is this glass you’re handling but it is very old! You can slowly and carefully pry the glass loose with a screwdriver or similar flat tool. Give the glass a thorough clean and dry it with a cloth.
- Apply some paint stripper to remove any backing paint. Most mirrors have this and the paint stripper should be left on for a minimum of twelve hours so usually overnight. Leave the mirror on a large painters’ cloth or newspaper for you to work on. Test one corner by gently lifting the paint off the mirror. Peel all of the backing paint away slowly and give the back another thorough cleaning.
- Did you know old silver can contain mercury? No? Wear your marigolds! You don’t want that getting on your skin. Apply a chemical silver remover and use the scraper to remove any excess debris. Clean the glass thoroughly to remove all chemical traces and dry with a clean cloth. Do not handle the glass with bare hands from this point on as your hands are generally oily. Companies such as com do a mirror restoration on a regular basis so while you can hire a company to do it you could easily follow these instructions to do it yourself.
- Before starting you should have bought some wooden blocks to balance your glass on. Place the wood blocks into a shallow pan at an angle, with the bottom of the blocks resting against the side and bottom of the pan. Place the glass on the wood, so that the glass is also resting at an angle. Use double-sided tape if necessary to hold the glass in place. Cut several pieces of waxed paper slightly larger than each sheet of silver leaf. Cut one piece of waxed paper for every sheet of silver leaf that will be applied to the glass twice
- Start in a corner and brush the sizing on to the glass in strips. Cover the entire area at once if the glass is small in size. Allow any extra sizing to drip off into the pan
- Place a sheet of waxed paper very carefully over a piece of silver leaf. Rub it gently all over until the entire sheet of silver leaf attaches to the wax paper. Lift the wax paper carefully by the edges, taking care not to touch the silver leaf. Position the leaf over the wet glass and slowly lower it onto the glass.
- Hold the wax paper with one hand and carefully rub a finger over the wax paper until the silver leaf attaches to the glass. Start in the middle and work your way toward the edges, squeezing out extra sizing and wrinkles as you go.
- Allow the sizing to rest for six to eight hours. Place the glass on a level surface. Start in the middle and gently rub the surface of the silver, using a soft felt cloth. Remove wrinkles as you work your way toward each edge.
- Apply a protective backing of black acrylic paint. Allow the paint to dry thoroughly, for eight to 12 hours. Place the mirror back into its frame.