Thursday, May 24, 2012

DIY - Mercury Glass

I've been collecting tons of DIY ideas on Pinterest for our upcoming wedding but one of the projects I'm planning would be great for our everyday home as well.  Vintage mercury glass is beautiful and timeless.  Holiday ornaments are pretty easy to find on ebay and etsy but mercury glass vessels are more elusive. Even reproduction mercury glass is out of our budget. We are going to have long tables and I envision placing mismatched sizes of mercury glass vessels with candles all along the tables.

At a cost of $5 to over $100 per candle holder, purchasing the 100 or so mercury glass vessels I want to use would blow our whole budget.  I'm never one to shy away from DIY and I knew someone out there had created mercury glass at home.  I went searching for a tutorial and found this great one on "Take the Side Street".  I followed Anna's guidance.  I also found a few tricks of my own along the way.

Vintage Mercury Glass

glass vessels - I used rocks glasses and a hurricane from Goodwill - $4.50 (1 hurricane and 4 glasses)
Krylon Looking Glass spray paint (it must be this type) - $7.99
rubbing alcohol
painters tape or masking tape
spray bottle filled with 50/50 vinegar and water
paper towels

I prepped and covered the glassware. I wiped the inside of each vessel with rubbing alcohol to make sure the paint would stick well. Then I covered each one with paper and tape.

Then I painted the inside of each glass with short bursts, moving the glass to get even coverage. Make sure to use Krylon Looking Glass spray paint.  Other types of silver paint don't give the same mirror effect.  I found it at Wal-Mart for $7.99 a can but it's also available on-line at retailers like

The paint dries very fast but you should ensure each coat is dry before the next.  This is the most thin and runny paint I've ever used. That is the reason you need very thin coats. If you don't use thin coats, it will run.

If you do see drips and runs, don't worry, future coats will create an even finish. When I had runs, I'd tip the glass the ensure coverage to the edge.

It took about 5 - 7 thin coats to get full coverage. You can go for more if you want a thick finish.  Hold your glass up to the light to make sure the coverage is solid.  The newspaper can make you think that you have full coverage but as you can see by the glass above, that's not always the case. If this happens to you, don't worry. Since you are going to distress the glass, this uneven coverage won't be an issue.

Once the painting is finished, you'll begin the distressing process.  Using a spray bottle (I got mine at the dollar store) with a mixture of 50% water and 50% vinegar lightly spray the inside of the vessels. You'll see the mixture bead up on top of the paint.  Let it sit for a few minutes.  Spray a paper towel with the same mixture.  Using your finger pads, rub in a circular motion on painted and treated glass.  You'll see the paint start to flake off.

You can create the effect that you like best depending on how much paint you remove.  After they sit for about 24 hours you can use candles in the holders.

I'm thrilled that this DIY turned out so well.  I spent about $13 on supplies.  I created one hurricane and four votives.  I still have lots of paint left over for more glassware. I know that I'll be able to create these for our wedding. They'll be affordable and they'll look beautiful. 

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