DIY Mercury Glass

November 23, 2011

Can it really be time for DIY Christmas decor inspiration already? Like it or not, I believe the answer to that one is "Yes."  So I'm getting on the bloggy bandwagon right now and sharing the first of many DIY Christmas decor ideas/projects/inspiration in the weeks to come.  I hope you'll join  me!  Today's tutorial:  DIY Mercury Glass.

I abide by the notion that this blog is about being r-e-a-l.   So I'm telling you up front that this project was a r-e-a-l pain in the butt. I mean it.  Let me start off by saying that I've recently come across more than a few DIY mercury glass tutorials in blogland.  I ended up trying three different ones, and essentially mashing them all up together because I wasn't really satisfied with  any one method alone. Hopefully I can spare you some pain by sharing how I did it.  Not saying that my way is the best way, mind you. Just that it's the best way that worked for me.

Sorry about the lack of photos but I was so consumed with making these suckers that I was too busy and/or frustrated to be bothered with taking any!  I only have befores and afters.  Hopefully my instructions will be enough.  Any questions, just shoot me an e-mail or a comment!


Krylon Mirror-Like (Spray) Paint
cheap glass containers
spray bottle
paper towels
black acrylic paint (any small plastic bottle will do, you don't need much at all)
cotton balls

For starters you'll need a can of Krylon Like-Glass Mirror (Spray) Paint.  I couldn't find it at Michael's, Jo-Ann's or Hobby Lobby so I ordered it from Amazon.  (I've since learned that you might just find it in Michael's floral department, so look there first!) 

I also picked up some really cheap glass containers from the Dollar Store.

I initially followed the instructions on the can: I sprayed the outside of the glass with a few light coats of paint, letting it dry about 1 minute between coats.  Yes, this was my first misstep.  Then I sprayed the newly dried painted glass with a light spritzing of water and let the water do it's magic on the paint.  So far so good.  But after this part I thought that maybe the coating was a bit too see through and that maybe I should have been spraying the i-n-s-i-d-e of the glass?  I had even mentioned this to my daughter prior to spraying, but did I heed my own advice?  Of course not.

Realizing the error of my ways, I then painted the inside of the glass (following the can's instructions), after which I sprayed the inside with a combo of one part vinegar to one part water, followed by wiping down random areas with a wet paper towel, soaked in the water/vinegar solution.  Problem was, I wiped too hard and too much paint came off!  I had to respray the inside!  Lesson: use a gentle touch when wiping down areas on the inside of the jar.

Finally, once the inside was dry, after about 10-15 minutes or so, I put some black acrylic paint on a cotton ball and gently rubbed down random areas on the inside of the glass, leaving a light black/grayish smudge. It was this step that seemed to make the most impact visually. 

CAVEAT:The paint is really thin and really runny on the glass.  I had a hard time managing to avoid lots and lots of runny, drippy marks on the glass.  I did a lot of swirling, and swirling and swirling, trying to spread the paint around the inside of the jar as opposed to just having a veritable dripfest.  Good luck with that.  Also note that I didn't even try the glass jar with the lid.  Since it was a bit more dimensional than the smooth jars I was afraid the paint would not adhere very well to it.  Perhaps one day I'll test my luck on that.
Compared to store prices, I'd say I paid a total of about $4.50 a jar, plus blood, sweat and tears labor.  Truth be told, next time I'd just as soon buy some already made.  Does that make me a terrible DIY-er?  It's not that I'm not proud of my little accomplishment. It's just that life is short, ya know?

And that Christmas wreath behind the glass?  I made it recently and will share it with you soon!  Hope you've enjoyed my little tutorial.  And if you have any similar stories to report I'd love to hear them!
Until next time,

Don’t miss another thrifty, 

DIY home d├ęcor post!      

Leave a Comment!

Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. said...

Your jars look great Kathleen! I have never been able to actually find that paint. And thanks for your honest opinion. Sometimes you need to consider how much time and effort a diy project really takes and decide if it is really worth it. The answer will be different for each of us.

Vanessa said...

Hi, Kathleen

Your glasses turned out lovely! Happy Thanksgiving.


Saucy Siciliana said...

Yes it's almost Christmas here in Rome too. We can tell from the decorations in the shopping areas. I found you through my viequotidienne and I'm following you all the way from Sicily! I'm sure I can learn from you, I'm not creative at all with my hands.

Mimi said...

I have used that paint before and it is runny! The last thing I painted with it was the back of an old window pane. The paint worked much better on a flat surface.
And I did get mine at Michael's - floral or bridal department. I don't know why they don't keep some with the regular spray paint.
Thanks for sharing your experience! I do love this look :)

Glenda/MidSouth said...

I have never used that paint before. You are more patient than me and with great results. About half way thru I would have called it quits.
Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

Unknown said...

I love your honesty! I have the paint, jars, etc in the garage and have been planning my own Mercury glass project and thanks to you my expectations are realistic! haha I would love to have you share your tutorial at my party!!

Mimi said...

Just found your blog. Love the project and you sharing the real deal of doing it. Thanks!

Jennifer @ Town and Country Living said...

Found your post at Feathered Nest and so glad I did. Just yesterday I was out shopping and saw some wine bottles that had been made to look like mercury glass. Loved them, but didn't buy them because I figured I could make some myself. The only problem is ... I don't know how ... but now I do thanks to your blog. Your post is perfect timing! Thanks so much.

Privet and Holly said...

Applauding your
brilliant efforts from
the friendly skies as
we fly home from my
brother's : ) I love the
look of Mercury glass!

xx Suzanne

Betsy@My Salvaged Treasures said...

These are stunning! I have to put this on my "to do" list. Thanks for all the tips.

Jules said...

Thank you for being so honest and telling us all what went right and what went wrong. Lots of people make it seem soooo easy - like on the Nate Berkus show, and I always like to know what I'm getting into so I can decide whether or not it's worth the trouble! Also, after doing so much crafting, in my experience, more goes slightly wrong than right and the mistakes add "character" to whatever project you are doing :)

Anita at Cedar Hill said...

OH thanks for the tip. I think they look awesome, but hmmm, you make a good point. If they are too much trouble, then just buy the darn things, right?

Sylvia said...

Oh pretty cool idea...the jars look wonderful.


Cheryl said...

OH my goodness... those turned out fabulous! At least they turned out in the end. I don't know how many times I had to toss something out because it looked awful. Well done!!!

Ann @ makethebestofthings said...

Thank you for your well informed post. I want to do this and you've answered many questions. I figure by putting the paint on the inside it will protect the finish but also if I don't like it I can spray paint the outside of the glassware for another project.

Anonymous said...

Very nice tutorial and great results. I like that you included things that can go wrong and also ways to fix them. Most projects I try do not go exactly as planned no matter how closely I follow the directions.

The Charm of Home said...

These turned out wonderful! If I ever find that spray paint I will get some but, I can't find it! Great job! Thank you for joining me at Home Sweet Home!

Nikki Monet said...

Whatever technique you used makes them look aged. I like!! New follower here. Would love it if you would stop by and share this at my link party going on right now :)

Have a great week!!

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