Thursday, February 7, 2013

Antique Oval Mirror Rescue Mission

So here's my new antique gold mirror. It's one of those funny things that I've seen listed on craigslist numerous times. Every time I saw it listed I loved it, but for whatever reason, never got my act together to go out and purchase it. When I saw it listed again on Tuesday, I knew I finally had to have it. The mirror probably dates to about 1900-1920. It's large, about 3ft tall and 18 inches wide. The shape of the oval is very appealing,  and the glass is fine condition. The frame was in desperate need of help though. That's almost certainly why I was able to get the mirror for just $10.

I picked up the mirror in Hebron, which is one of the prettiest towns in Connecticut, and is only about 15 minutes from home, then picked up a can of gold paint from Ace on my way home.
Once I got home I brushed away all of the loose gesso that was barely clinging to the wood frame underneath. There were quite a few spots where the gesso had completely let go. I filled all the spots with putty and then let it dry, which took only a few hours. Once the putty was dry I sanded it lightly with 220 grit sandpaper. At this point I could have gone back and filled with a second layer of putty to get all the bits completely smooth, but I didn't want the mirror to look too perfect or you wouldn't be able to tell it's an antique. I then carefully applied two coats of the gold paint, with 12 hours dry time between. The paint was really thin in the can but coated amazingly well. It made me feel like King Midas, and I was very tempted to start painting everything I own bright gold.
The before and afters are below. The mirror is going to be hung at the end of our upstairs hallway. I wanted to hang it before I left for work, but I realized there's no stud behind the drywall in that spot, and I don't trust just the drywall to support the weight. The mirror's quite heavy.
Here's the mirror right after I got home. You can see all the chipping at the top and bottom.

Another view of the mirror with damage.

I put the mirror on the bedroom floor and applied generous amounts of putty to any of the holes in the gesso.

close of up the drying putty.

all finished, with the new gold paint- which I think matched the original quite well!

It's beautiful!


  1. Anonymous2/07/2013

    I've had that gesso mirror listed on Craigs list literally for years...just waiting for the perfect buyer. Glad you saw it, Kate. You did a wonderful job cleaning it up. Thanks for posting the results. Diane

  2. Anonymous2/07/2013

    I often pick up used furnishings to list on craigs list. You can easily see what I have by going to craigs list and putting "diane hebron" in the search box.

  3. Thank you Diane- I was hoping you'd see the post. I'm so glad you approve. It was fun to work on, and the mirror will hold a place of honor in my home for many years to come!