Arts and Crafts Mirror Tutorial

*Tutorial by Erin @ Erin’s Creative Energy for her win of Season 12*

I am very honored to be sharing my Arts and Crafts Style Mirror tutorial for everyone.

This is going to be a VERY LONG tutorial.  Even though it only took me 4 days to complete, in all reality, this should have taken at least two weeks.  So don’t get discouraged with time, the end result is completely worth it.

Also, before attempting any of this tutorial, please know how to properly use all the tools and equipment to avoid injury.  There is nothing more important than your safety.

The first thing I did was cut my FREE mirror.  Gotta love friends that inform you of trash on the side of the road.  The mirror was broken (a very large broken mirror) that was put out for trash.  I used it and cut it down to size…twice.  The first time it broke, so I had to adjust my entire design plan.

You will need a glass scoring tool, cutting oil and running pliers.  All shown above.

Oil the scoring tool, then score your line on the measurement.  (use a straight edge if necessary to ensure a straight line)

A score in the glass looks like a very heavy duty scratch.  When scoring a mirror, you will get a reflection, there is not two seperate scores in the mirror.

I then propped my mirror up on a towel to evenly distribute the weight.  The first time I cut, I thought I could hold it, and my glass decided to break it’s own direction from the stress.

You will use your running pliers to get the glass to break along the scoring line.  Here is a little trick I came up with when I was taking my stained glass class earlier this year, “Screw UP so you don’t screw up.”  So, make sure the screw is up, or you will not be breaking your glass on the score line.  Line up your score in the middle of your running pliers and slowly squeeze until the glass fractures along your line.  If it doesn’t go all the way to the end (which it probably won’t on larger cuts) then repeat this same step on the other end.

The edge that you cut will be VERY sharp.  You will need to either grind the edge or take sandpaper to it to dull it up so it’s safe to handle.  Wrap 120 grit sandpaper around a flat stick or scrap wood (so you don’t cut through the sandpaper into your hand) and rough up the edge.  Make sure you wear a mask for this and use a wet rag to wipe off the dust.

I drew up my pattern for the stained glass in photoshop and made it true to size so I knew exactly what size to cut all my pieces.  You could do whatever pattern you like or the same one that I did.  This is the perfect opportunity to throw your own creativity into the piece by designing your own pattern or omitting the stained glass all together.

All measurements were done in inches.  Both sides are the same.  The light gray is actually a wave textured clear glass.  All other colors are exact to what I chose.

 

I cut all my pieces to size and ground the edges.  I then laid them out on my mirror to make sure they were all lining up, making tweaks here and there as needed.

Once everything is lined up, you will need to foil every single piece with copper foil.

The copper foil is like tape.  You will need to separate the paper backing and center it along the edge of your glass.  You will wrap it around each piece of glass.

Then you will take your fid (the wooden stick) and rub it along the foil on all sides.  This will flatten any wrinkles in the foil and make for better looking soldering that holds better.

This is my soldering iron.  It’s a 100 watt, but a 60 watt is sufficient.  You wouldn’t want it any hotter than 100 watts.

Before you solder your pieces together, you will need to apply gel flux to all the copper seams.  Do not apply too much, if you do, you will hear some crackling.  I lightly paint it on with a brush, trying not to leave any droplets of flux.  If there is, don’t add more flux, just keep spreading it around.  The link found here gives great direction and information about soldering.

I made sure that I used a straight edge to line up my interior pieces were in a straight line.  I then “tacked” the pieces into place so they wouldn’t shift when I soldered the seams.  (Placing a tack is just a small bead of solder to hold pieces of glass together to prevent shifting).

I soldered the piece off of the mirror, because it took FOREVER to get someone else’s grimy mirror clean.  I didn’t want to dirty it up.  I slid it onto the mirror after all the seams of the stained glass had been soldered together.

I then took clear caulk to seal the stained glass to the mirror.  This prevents any moisture, water, dust or dirt from getting trapped between the stained glass and the mirror.  You need to caulk the inner edge and the outer edge.

A trick that I learned, lay down your bead of caulk and then take a hotel room key (since it has that nice curved edge) use that to clean up your caulk and make it uniform.  Once the caulk dried, it went from white to clear.

Here is the completed mirror before it being set into the frame.  It looks gorgeous all on it’s own.

Now onto the frame.  I drew up rough plans to show you the dimensions of the frame and mirror.

These are actual measurements.  When you buy lumber like a 2×4, it’s actually approximately 1 1/2 x 3 1/2.  The reason for this is when the lumber is cut, it is wet.  During the drying process it shrinks.  I had purchased two large boards of white oak and cut them to the actual dimensions shown.

I used the miter saw and table saw to achieve the dimensions listed.

I then laid out my frame so I could mark where I was to put half lap joints.  A half lap joint is where you remove half of the material of two pieces to lay on top of each other so they lay flat.  Look at the image below to get a better understanding.

Once all the joints are marked where you are going to place your half laps, then take your table saw and set it to half the height of your board.  Then you can make about 50 or so cuts to shave away the excess material.

Once you are done, it will have ridges like the photo below shows.

In order to get rid of the ridges you will need to run the board along the edge of the saw from side to side.  This will clean it up nicely.

Once all your half laps are done, it’s time to route the edge where the mirror will set.  The depth and width will depend upon the size of mirror and stained glass and the depth of them stacked together.

Make sure you mark your start and end point.  You will then pivot your board into your start point, run it along your router fence and then pull the board away at your stop point.

Once all your routing is done, use wood glue to glue your joints together.

Make sure all your corners are at 90 degrees, because once the glue dries, if it’s not, it will not be an easy fix.

Clamp your joints into place when you know they are at 90 degrees and clean up any excess glue that squeezes out of the joints.

I let my frame sit over night for the glue to dry, then I sanded from 80 up to 220 grit.

I then stained the wood.  I used a dark walnut minwax wood finish stain.

It created a rich honey colored wood with a dark walnut grain pattern.  Make sure you test out a piece of scrap lumber before staining your entire piece.

I forgot to take pics of the next few steps.  I think at this point I was completely delirious on lack of sleep and the need to make the deadline for this final project.  So, here it is in simple terms.

Sanded, stained, sanded, sealed, sanded, waxed.
I decided to do a french cleat to hang the final piece.  To create a french cleat, take a board and cut it at a 45 degree angle.  One of the boards will be attached to the back of your frame and the other on the wall.  This creates a very strong hold for a very heavy piece.

 

I attached part of the french cleat near the top of my mirror and a small board the same depth as the french cleat to hold the bottom of the mirror in place.  It also pushes the bottom of the mirror out so that it is parallel with the wall.  Unless you are up against the wall, it’s not noticeable.

Once you attach the other half of your french cleat to studs in the wall, you can hang your mirror.

I am in love with the piece and it really adds life to my entry way.  I now need to get the new door in and finish the stained glass window that will go in above the door.

If you have any questions about the tutorial, please feel free to hop on over to my blog and leave me a comment or e-mail me.

Thank you again for all your support and votes through out this competition.  It was a blast!

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Comments

  1. says

    WOW that is stunning! I really love your tutorial! This is going on my to-do list to try. I love that Arts & Crafts design it is perfect. This is my first time here. I’m not sure exactly how I landed here but happy that I did!

    I’m going to look around more but do want to invite you to stop in Sat-Thur (I’d wait at this point until Saturday) and link up in our Crafty Showcase. We love tutorials like this one that you did! It is so inspiring.

    Have a great week!
    Susie @Bowdabra
    http://bowdabrablog.com