Tuesday, March 11, 2014


I'm two weeks out from foot surgery today, and improving exponentially by the hour, but I still cannot drive for another week. The weather's lovely, so I'm getting a little Spring fever. Since I need to avoid overdoing, I've chosen a quickie craft this morning, for which I had already bought supplies, pre-surgery. It's not necessary to use a hermit crab mister (a story for another day). It's just a spray bottle I  utilized it for the alcohol and water solution suggested in one of the tutorials I found.

I love mercury glass. At a white-elephant style Christmas party, I admired a lovely mercury glass ornament that was entwined with ribbon on the outside of the gift my friend, Sherri, had chosen. That sweet girl took it off her present and gave it right to me! Now I'm seeing mercury glass everywhere, and have noticed a few tutorials online for "homemade" mercury glass, so I thought I'd try it on the cheap. Being my mother's daughter, my cupboards are full of things I'm not using, but were "too good to throw away". As a teacher and an artist, my mom's hoarding of almost everything made sense to a degree, as she seldom wanted for raw materials. For me, I should probably rein in my "waste not want not" proclivity just a tad. That said, I happily have gobs of "free" glassware which had arrived with bouquets over the years, and which would be perfect for mercury glass creation.

From the info online about this type of project, two spray paints seem to be highly recommended -- Krylon's "Looking Glass" and another called "Chrome" -- though I don't recall the manufacturer. I figured my memory would be jogged if I saw it. I checked Lowe's which had a paltry selection of metallics. I asked a sales associate, who directed me to "Depot". I remembered I had a bag in my car containing a light switch we never used when finishing our basement 10 years ago. Amazingly, I was able to return it for store credit. I bought Rustoleum "Metallic" which was the closest thing to "Looking Glass" or "Chrome" I could find. With my store credit, it was "free"!

Variations in technique abound. Basically, you very lightly spray the inside of the glassware, then immediately lightly mist it with a water and vinegar or a water and rubbing alcohol solution, and quickly wipe it with a paper towel. I'm thinking plain water would have worked better, since the alcohol solution instantly liquefied the interior of the vase contents and I was left with a drippy mess. Most of the paint wound up on my hands:

Now isn't that pretty? I feel like Effie Trinket would be impressed. Previously, I was actually unaware of the pores on that part of my hand. I should have worn gloves, obviously. I thought about it, but don't have any and I'm not driving. My creativity will not be deterred. Much of it came off with dishwasher detergent. Now it just looks like an interesting bruising pattern.

Here's how the mercury glass looked after the first coat:

You want a semi-translucent effect, so the light of a candle could make it's way through the metallic finish, but my wiping patterns and the drip marks of the too-liquidy paint and alcohol water solution weren't to my liking. Instead, I resolved to paint the whole interior to an almost-opaque extent, then I will later try distressing the dried finish by rubbing or sanding, not with alcohol, and maybe using an umber glaze to counter the plastic-metallic happy meal toy look of the paint on its own:

See what I mean? Look at the drip marks. The ginger jar shape makes it almost impossible to avoid visible drips, even with a very light coat. I'm pretty sure I can improve on this after it has dried a while. I learned a bit about antique and other faux finishes about 8 years ago when I refinished my kitchen cabinets myself. They are really white melamine -- particleboard with a white plasticine coating. It's amazing what paint can do:

The "dark wood" island is also white melamine. I'm especially proud of the "corner joints" on these cabinet doors. It's all paint on molded plastic -- there are really no joints at all.

After I finish the mercury glass, I'll share the result.

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