Thursday, 13 October 2011

Two More Mixed Media Mirrors

Further projects for the upcoming exhibition and sale.

Butterflies Mirror

I chose one of my Ikea mirrors from Ebay. And as I was not painting on it, I didn’t have to prime it, so I decided to use one of three mirrors that already had a black finish. The only part that will show is the vertical surface abutting the mirror itself, and the sides, which will be perfectly acceptable left black in this case.

I based the design on the frame I made for our nephew’s wedding, stamping onto silver mirror card and then painting, and adding acrylic glass gel medium – this turned out so effective that I have been looking forward to doing it again.

The first step was to cut the mirror card to size. As I haven’t got anything larger than A4, I cut 4 pieces the exact width of each side of the mirror frame, and then cut the corners at 45 degrees, so that I could mitre them.

These were then glued down onto the mirror in readiness for stamping. (I used Pinflair photo glue for this – it’s so easy to rub away any excess without making a mess of the finished piece.) I decided to do this first, and stamp them in situ so that I could stamp across the joins.

Here is the mirror, stamped with swirls and butterflies. I used archival black ink. The swirl stamp is from Crafty Individuals and is a lovely big swirl which is so useful – you can use all or part of it. Most of the butterflies are from Chocolate Baroque, with a couple from Stamp Attack. Can you ever have enough butterfly stamps???

Since I made our nephew’s frame, I have obtained some more Daler Rowney Pearlescent Liquid Acrylics – such gorgeous colours! I’ve decided to use these instead of mixing up a glaze with normal acrylic paints and iridescent gel medium. They seem to adhere well to the shiny surface of the card. I have also got some Rotring black drawing ink which I have had for years – it says it is waterproof, and again it seems to adhere well to the card, so I am using that to touch up any slight blemishes in the stamping. (Mirror card is very hard to stamp onto because it is so slippery!!)

In this picture you can see the butterflies painted with Daler Rowney Pearlescent Liquid Acrylics in Galactic Blue, Waterfall Green and Birdwing Copper. (Having done this, I didn't think there are enough butterflies, so once it was completely dry, I stamped and painted a few more small ones to fill in the gaps and make a bit more impact.) This is very hard to photograph because it is so reflective, and also, the green hasn’t come out that well – if you look at the bottle you get a better approximation of the colour (although it is more intense). On the painted butterflies it has come out pale blue or white!

Doing a test piece with the liquid acrylics and then some glass bead gel medium, it appeared that the colour was smudging under the gel medium. Grrr. It may have been because it wasn’t quite dry (I’m so impatient, and mixed media always takes soooo long to dry!) but I thought it was… Anyway, I’ve done a few test pieces on scraps of silver mirror card, using some Prism Clear Glaze Aerosol Spray, which is really a decoupage varnish, but can be used for other things too. It goes onto mirror card beautifully and doesn’t react with it, or dull its shine. It really does seem to seal what’s underneath, so I think this is the answer. One of my experiments was using a fine waterproof permanent black marker, and this wouldn’t dry at all, so I more or less abandoned that idea, but as long as it isn’t smudged, it can be sprayed with the varnish which sets it, and you can then paint with the liquid acrylics on top, and it works fine! Another coat of varnish, then the glass bead gel medium, and it’s done. So much of this is experimental… I’ve added this information in this blog post for my own benefit so please forgive me if it’s boring – it will remind me in the future what I did. In summary:

  • Silver mirror card
  • Stamp with archival black – let dry well before painting
  • Paint with Rotring waterproof drawing ink – smudges when paint added – spray with Prism Clear Glaze Acrylic Spray before painting
  • Write with waterproof black marker – remains smudgeable – spray with varnish before painting
  • Paint with Daler Rowney Pearlescent Liquid Acrylics – let dry completely
  • Spray with Prism Clear Glaze Acrylic Spray – let dry completely
  • Apply glass bead gel medium

Here is my mirror with additional butterflies stamped and painted, with the application of the glass bead gel medium in progress. I used a flat palette knife and tried to spread it evenly, to about one bead’s thickness.

In the centre, covering the actual mirror to protect it, is something I have just made, which will come in very useful as I work on a number of these Ikea mirrors. I cut a square of scrap mounting board that exactly fits the recess (this piece has some test painting on it which can be ignored). I stuck a length of masking tape across one side:

and brought the ends round to the front. I stuck a piece of scrap paper onto each end to prevent it sticking to anything:

These act as “handles” to pull the square of card out of the recess when I’ve finished.

Here is the glass bead gel medium application completed. At this stage it looks milky white, with the butterflies showing through a little.

It is great fun watching the medium dry. Gradually the decoration beneath begins to reveal itself in all its glory, and the glass micro-beads do their stuff, adding sparkle and shine, enhancing the iridescent acrylic paint, as the acrylic gel medium dries crystal clear. I think this has to be one of the most exciting ways to use this gel medium – it enhances, and is enhanced by, the underlying mirror card. I don’t know if anyone else has done it, but I’d like to claim credit for a good idea!!

Here is the finished mirror.


Embossed Metal Mirror

When I did my experiments with faux rust, I used an ATC-sized piece of card, and when it was finished, and I was Meddling with Metal, I attached some circles of embossed metal.

I liked the effect, so decided to make a mirror. I took one of my Ikea mirrors which was already primed with black gesso, and rough-painted a layer of verdigris-coloured acrylic paint over it. (This picture is the one that eventually became the Steampunk Clocks mirror.)

I then applied the coarse pumice acrylic gel medium and rust-coloured acrylic as I’d done on the ATC.

I embossed 2 sheets of metal using Tim Holtz’s Texture Fades embossing folder “Retro Circles.” Unfortunately I forgot to colour the metal with alcohol inks before embossing, which made it more difficult, but I managed in the end, using the same colours as I’d used for the ATC: Pinata alcohol inks in Burro Brown, Calabaza Orange, Chile Pepper and Sunbright Yellow. After the ink was dry, I sanded the surface to reveal the silver colour of the metal.

Then I cut out the circles. I think it’s a bit of a shame Tim Holtz made these circles overlapping – it means that you get very few complete ones if you want to cut them out, but I used them up against each other, and the edge ones along the edges of my mirror.

Here they are attached to the finished mirror.

I glued them down with Pinflair glue, and when this was more or less dry, I went round each circle with a metal burnishing tool to make sure there were no sharp edges projecting above the surface. I made sure the ones abutting the edges of the mirror were attached a fraction of an inch in from the edge for the same reason.

As usual, the photo hasn’t done it justice – it’s always hard photographing shiny, metallic surfaces. It actually looks a lot richer than this.


  1. I love these projects, the blue butterfly mirror is gorgeous.


  2. Awesome projects... you are so talented!
    Est x


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