Friday, February 28, 2014

D.I.M. Project = Did It Myself Project | Coffee Table with Mercury Glass Mirror

I'm feeling a bit back on track with things this week.  Hopped on the blogging wagon, worked an event last night and getting started on a new painting.  While there's lots ahead, I want to cap off the end of this week with another D.I.M. project of mine that helped make my place ready for my The Everygirl feature.

In my quest to be economical and resourceful, I was kind of stumped when it came to a coffee table.  Still using my old college table that actually was tossed in as a freebee when I purchased my off campus living twin bed, it was definitely time for an upgrade.  Look at that sad lil table.

After lots of searching through piles of oversized and expensive options, I decided I would have to take matters into my own hands.
Wanting to use the same table as the bones for the newer version, I set out to find a "table top".  I wanted something classy that would fit into my homemade esthetic.  I decided a mirror would be fitting, so off to my favorite place to get large, cheap mirrors: Fort Pitt Furniture.  I'm so mad that I never took pictures while I was there because this place is seriously ridiculous.  I like to call it the graveyard where hotel furniture goes to die….or find a new home.  It's like a pound for furniture; so much of it without a home.  When hotels makeover their rooms, there is an abundance of the same furniture, and Fort Pitt takes it on.  So there are multiples of things and they are super cheap.  For example, their "room of mirrors" doesn't have anything higher that $80 (and that's for something larger than 6ft tall).
I found this beauty in a pile of it's look-a-like brothers and sisters for $20.

Checkout the the gilded, beveled frame on this puppy.  This is a 26 x 36 inch frame that would sell for at least $150 in the real world.

First thing I did was remove the backing on the frame and the mirror itself.

I wanted the mirror to resemble mercury glass and not be soooo reflective.  To achieve this, I purchased Citristrip ($11.98 at Home Depot) to remove the gray paint from the back of the mirror.  I choose the Citristrip since you are able to use it indoors.  Wear rubber gloves and spread a generous layer of the striper over the entire mirror.

 I watched a couple of videos and read a few blogs about this, and many of the times varied as to how long to let the goop sit on the back.  I had a crappy dorm room door mirror that I tested the timing on.  You want to scrape the paint off but not leave the striper on too long so it eats through the mirror material.  With the cheapy mirror, this took about 8-10 minutes.  With my industrial strength hotel mirror, this was a different story.  I wound up leaving the striper on overnight because I was getting nowhere with it.  So, depending on your mirror quality and probably even age, the striper could take anywhere from 8 minutes to 24 hours to make a dent in your goal to remove the paint.  Frustrating and incredibly varied, I know.  Luckily, you can continually test a section of your mirror to see what stage your paint is at.

I also found that while the plastic scrapers worked just fine for my cheap mirror, they did nothing for my hotel mirror.  I resorted to my razor blade paint scrapers.  Be careful with these as you can easily scrape away the mirror too.

Once all/most of the paint is removed, wipe down your mirror with soap and water.  To create that mercury glass, spotted look, I made a bleach/water solution.  A lot of the "recipes" for this project called for muriatic acid.  Again, because I was doing this inside my home in winter (no window ventilation) and not a garage, I wanted to keep it as eco-friendly as possible.  Plus, this meant I didn't have to go purchase another product to later store in my limited space.  I had bleach.  I purchased a spray bottle.  That's it.  The mixture is 3/4 water to 1/4 bleach which also can be varied by the type of mirror you have.  I think I added a little more bleach to my mixture to make it work a bit faster.

Be sure to cover all surfaces you do not want dotted with bleach white polka dots, and spray the solution on to the back of your mirror.  You'll want to monitor the timing on your bleach sitting and eating away at the mirror.  This part of the process is purely adjustable to your desired mercury glass effect.  I would spray, let it sit, then dab away the areas the bleach had evaporated.  The result was the mirror being dissolved into a dust that could be brushed away to my liking.  You can really start to manipulate how you want things to look during this process.

Once I had achieved my desired effect, I wiped down the back of my mirror with soap and water to remove any access bleach.   I had all intentions of repainting the back of my mirror with gray, black and silver paint, but instead, I already had some black foam core.  This was perfect because it gave a background to my new mirror look and also provided some extra padding to the mirror once in the frame.

Here's my sad looking table.  I glued some of the joints with wood glue to better stabilize everything, and also added some wheels to the legs.  With limited space, it's nice to be able to wheel furniture around.

To attach my mirror to my coffee table, I took the old mirror backing and screwed it into the top of my table.  With the mirror in the frame, I placed everything face down on my rug as shown, and used a staple gun to staple the mirror backing to the actual frame.  I didn't use any glue, so if anything ever becomes loose or needs a quick repair, or for some crazy reason I decide to switch out the mirror, it all will be very easy to remove (though sturdy while put together).

Turn it all over, put a West Elm centerpiece on it and a floating flower, and there you have a brand new, expensive looking coffee table.

I am totally in love with how this turned out.  If you break everything down too, here's how much each item cost me:

Old coffee table - free
Mirror - $20
Citristrip - $11.98
Wheels - $4.99
Paint scrapers - already had them
Staple gun - already had it
Bleach/water mixture - got it
Spray bottle - $.96

So really, I had most everything and the project cost me about $38 and some elbow grease.  You can't beat that!
Special notes: If you Google "how to make mercury glass" you'll get a lot of projects that use the Krylon Looking Glass spray.  This stuff is awesome and might have made my job easier if I had just gotten a picture frame with clear glass.  The thing is though that I wanted to use this as a coffee table and have it be able to sustain any weight I might put on it (within reason of course).  Picture frame glass is much thinner and more fragile than the 1/4 inch thick glass that is my mirror.  It's nice to know that had a scraped off too much mirror or the paint remover removed everything, I could still have added "mirror" with the Krylon material if needed.

So what do you think?  If you scroll back up to my first "before" picture, you'll also notice my hideous end tables.  Guess which project I'm going to feature next!?  I hope this post inspires you to go out and take on a new project.  Have a great weekend!

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