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DIY Mercury Glass Tutorial

Mercury glass – it’s so pretty, isn’t it?
Real mercury glass is glass that is double walled, with a liquid silvering solution poured between the layers and sealed. It has a very similar look to antique mirrors that have a mottled affect.

 

Did you know that there’s an easy way to achieve the mercury glass look on glass shelves, vases, votive candle holders and light fixtures? This is one of my favorite crafty projects ever!

 

My DIY mercury glass obsession started few years ago when I turned a baby changing table into a bar cart.  After I painted the table it still looked like a changing table, so I decided to try mirroring glass shelves for it. I am not kidding when I tell you this little hack completely transformed the table!!!!

 

The mirrored shelves are the perfect finishing touch for this piece of furniture, and they make the top more functional since drinks will be poured on this surface.
I ended up selling the bar cart when I turned our TV armoire into a bar cabinet, and then went on to give the mercury glass treatment to the vanity top in our master bedroom, and the glass top of this dresser in our foyer. I just can’t stop!
A glass tabletop is given a DIY mercury glass effect with spray paint and a vinegar and water mixture for a beautiful mottled finish.
I really love that bit of antique patina and subtle reflection of light it brings to the space…..
A dresser used in a foyer for extra storage, with a DIY mercury glass tabletop.
(that broken middle drawer, not so much!)
I also gave basic Ikea lanterns a brass and mercury glass makeover. It’s just so fun to see how the paint comes out each time!
Ikea lantern hack with mirror finish spray paint.

Have I convinced you try this fun paint project yet? Are the wheels turning in your head about what in your house you can use this technique on? I know, me too! It truly is fun to try! So here we go….

How to DIY Mercury Glass
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WHAT PAINT TO USE

This is the #1 most important part!! I searched in 5 or 6 stores for Krylon Looking Glass spray paint. When I couldn’t find it, I decided a shiny chrome spray paint would do the job just fine. Isn’t the cap on the left super shiny like a mirror???????

 

Well, guess what…..shiny chrome spray paint does NOT give you a mirror finish. The Krylon Looking Glass spray paint, on the other hand, really does – it’s awesome!! Look at the difference!
(The speckles are intentional….keep reading.)  
I used the same technique on both pieces of glass above and the chrome spray paint just looks like silver paint, so be sure to use the Looking Glass spray paint for this project. I found it once at Walmart, but it’s hit or miss, so now I just buy it here and save myself the headache of driving around hunting for it.
Beware – the Looking Glass spray paint comes in a small can – only 6 oz. compared to the normal spray paint can size of 12 oz. Also, it’s twice as much as regular spray paint, but it’s worth it if you’re looking for a real mirror finish.  I used about 1 1/2 cans for the bar cart shelves.

GLASS SHELVES

The glass on my foyer dresser was custom cut to fit by a local glass shop. It’s tempered, 3/8″ thick and has polished edges. The glass that comes with the Ikea laptop desk I use as my vanity is thinner but also tempered, with finished edges.

 

For my bar cart shelves I used regular window/basic picture framing glass. FYI – window/picture frame glass is more fragile than real glass shelves and does not have finished edges so it’s sharp; to line the shelves of the bar cart, the picture frame glass is fine as it won’t take a lot of abuse and the edges are concealed. This same kind of glass is in the Ikea lantern, and would work well for a backsplash too. For shelves that need to be strong and shatterproof, or for a tabletop, I would recommend custom cut, tempered glass from your local glass shop.

 

A couple quick tips if you want to proceed with window/picture frame glass
(otherwise scroll down to the DIY Mercury Glass Method below!)

Cutting the glass to size:  you can cut sheets of glass yourself with this little tool that you can buy at a hardware store.
This little gadget scores the glass, and then you snap the glass apart. However, scoring a sheet of glass properly with this tool is really difficult for a novice. Often the glass does not break perfectly, ruining your piece of glass. It’s tricky to get right so I highly recommend having the glass cut for you.
If you have the glass cut, price it out before buying. I found my small local hardware store was much cheaper than the big box craft stores who do picture framing, or the big box hardware stores who sell glass for windows. The glass for the bar cart cost $40 at my local mom-and-pop hardware store.

THE DIY MERCURY GLASS METHOD

SUPPLIES

Glass object
Krylon Looking Glass spray paint
A spray bottle of half water/half white vinegar
A rag
Optional – gold acrylic craft paint
and/or black acrylic craft paint
Drop cloth 

Spray the back of your glass item with a light coat of the Looking Glass spray paint, then immediately mist with the water/vinegar solution.

Let dry for 15-20 minutes, then coat with spray paint again, immediately following with the water/vinegar solution. The glass in the lower left corner is turned over in this picture and is reflective even after one coat.

Allow to dry, then use the rag to clean the surface of the glass.

The water/vinegar prevents the spray paint from sticking in some areas, creating the mottling affect.

You can leave your glass like that, or use the gold and/or black craft paint over these areas.

I dabbed the craft paint on the spots…..

and this is the affect of the gold and black through the mottling.

To use my glass for shelves on the bar cart, I placed a piece of packing tape on the back of the glass and folded it over to make a little tab so that if I want to remove the shelves later for any reason, they will be easy to lift up.
The final affect of my DIY mercury glass on the bar cart:

The gold is very subtle but pretty, especially when I used the cart on my deck in the sunlight.

I have only used this painting method on glass shelves and tabletops, but you could try it on glass vases with wide openings, hurricanes, votive holders and glass lighting fixture shades like the ones you see on pendant lights. Creating DIY mercury glass is so fun, I promise, you’ll love it!

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DIY mercury glass is easy to achieve with spray paint and a simple technique.

See more of the bar cart project (and 3 different ways to use a beverage cart)

So glad you stopped by today!

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Beverly

Tuesday 31st of July 2018

This is lovely and a great transformation! I've been meaning to try mercury glass paint and your post is a reminder for me to put it on my shopping list.

Lisa

Wednesday 1st of August 2018

It's really fun to try Beverly! It comes out a little different every time I do it and I love seeing the results and playing around with it! Hope you enjoy it too.

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Tuesday 24th of July 2018

I have a tray I have been thinking about updating. This would be perfect for the glass insert.

Lisa

Wednesday 25th of July 2018

That's a perfect use for mirrored glass Lauren!

miranda

Wednesday 27th of July 2016

I am helping my friend do this for her wedding. We are doing votive candle holders. The paint says flammable. Should we paint the outside then? Will this give the same look?

Lisa

Wednesday 27th of July 2016

Hi Miranda, I'm not sure about using this method on votives. I used this paint for shelves. The side that has the paint on it doesn't have the antique mirror affect, just the glassy side, so I'm not sure it would work as well on the outside of the votives. I hope that helps with your project!

Buddy Hunt

Thursday 21st of July 2016

Are the diy mercury glass votives heat proof? Will the paint peel or burn while burning the votive candles?

Lisa

Wednesday 27th of July 2016

I did not make votives with this paint method - I used it on glass shelves for a piece of furniture. The paint is flammable so I imagine it wouldn't be safe for DIY mercury glass votives!

Roxy

Tuesday 26th of April 2016

Would this work on a vase? How would I cure the paint to make it handwash or dishwasher safe?

Thanks!

Lisa

Wednesday 27th of April 2016

If the vase had an opening big enough to spray the paint evenly then I would think it would work, but I haven't tried it myself! You could probably add a layer of spray sealant like a polyurethane to protect the paint and make it hand-washable. I wouldn't take the chance of putting it in the dishwasher though.