Making a Floral Mirror
I had been scouring local Restores and Resellers looking for a small round mirror for quite some time. Just before Christmas I was lucky enough to finally stumble upon just the one I wanted for a particular project I had in mind. For this project consider using any mirror or picture frame for a similar look but also think outside of this scope a little – what about updating a tired old plant pot or urn? What about an old teapot? Perhaps a decorative plate? Options are endless!
Old mirror or frame
Creative Paper Clay
Floral Moulds from IOD
Paints (Modern Masters Metallic Bronze, Annie Sloan Old White Chalk Paint)
Brushes (chippy brush, wax brush)
Wax for sealing
NB: some of the moulds I used are older and not readily available but consider using any moulds that fit a theme… florals, butterflies, seashore, wings…
To start, make sure your mirror is clean and free of dirt and oils. For this you simply need a little soap and water, even a wet wipe would do. This was my mirror, washed and ready to start!
I like to apply my moulds when they are still soft and somewhat malleable – important when applying to a curved surface such as this mirror. I will therefore only make a dozen or so pieces at a time, glue them in place and then begin making more.
Take out a small amount of the paper clay and knead it slightly to soften and smooth it out. Press firmly into one of the mould designs, ensuring that you fully fill the cavity. Smooth the back off since this is the side you will be adhering to your piece. (I will often use an old credit card to ensure the back of the mould is level).
To remove your design from the mould flip it over so that you are able to slowly peel the mould away from the clay. If you find your clay sticking to your moulds at all brush a little cornstarch into the moulds first, which will make removal easy!
Brush on some wood glue (usually what I use) or even some white craft glue, ensuring that you take it right out to the edges of your designs to ensure there is no curling of the clay as it dries.
Lay your moulded pieces around the frame ensuring that you are alternating shapes, and working them fully edge to edge. As you can see in this picture I leave a number of gaps that I go back and fill later with smaller flowers and leaves, typically laying larger flowers and leaves first, spacing similar flowers around the circumference of the mirror to create interest.
Continue to make and add more moulded pieces until your design is as full as desired. For this piece I knew that I was planning on distressing back to a base colour. In this case I wanted a subdued metallic look for the base so I used Modern Masters Metallic paint in Bronze. Use a small chippy brush to dab the paint down into all of the crevasses in and between your moulds. I did one full coat and then, once dry, used a smaller brush to touch up edges and areas I missed on the first pass.
Allow to dry fully. The Modern Masters Metallics dries to a hard finish, allowing you to distress back to the metallic finish without risk of removing that layer of paint. If you are using a different brand of paint and do not want to risk distressing back to the paper clay layer then you should consider doing a light single coat of a Polyacryllic to form a protective barrier prior to the next paint step.
I also chose to highlight some of the raised aspects of some of the florals and leaves with some gold metallic paint I had (Americana Décor Metallics) but it proved unnecessary – it’s too subtle to see in the final product!
Once your metallic layer is dry it is time to apply two coats of the Old White layer. Because we will be wet-distressing these layers I strongly suggest using a chalk or clay-based paint for this. The water will reactivate the paint allowing you to remove it, where you choose, with ease.
Take one of your cotton cloths, dip it in water and rub gently on some of the high points of your flowers and leaves, exposing the metallic paint below. The white paint will remain in the ‘low’ spots, while you will reveal the metallic in the ‘high’ spots, creating a lovely contrast.
Remove as much or as little as you want, revealing the details of your moulds. If you feel that you removed too much of the white paint you can simply repaint that area, allow to dry and distress again… no worries!
Once you have settled on the final look and determined it is distressed ‘enough’, allow it to dry and then apply your wax with a wax brush (I used Annie Sloan clear) to get down into all of the crevasses. Dry overnight and then buff lightly with a cotton cloth.