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Adding Drama to a Plastic Mirror


  • white curtain or sheets
  • acrylic paint
  • mirror

Mirror, Mirror on the wall. Who's the ghoulish of them all?

Wait. Don't answer that. Let me pretend it is I.

In this post I'll show you how to add simple detailing anyone can do. I'll then continue with uncomplicated dressing ideas, and show you how this style can be dramatically altered using lighting.

I have a store-bought mirror that reflects images upside down.

The frame and "glass" are made of plastic (issue number 1 I'll be focusing on).

The size is 14" H x 21" W which is pretty decent. Placed in a hallway or a nook of the room, it would work well as a focal point. But if you want to display it on a large wall, it suddenly looks smaller than it is (issue number 2 I'll be focusing on).

Plus, the mirror itself has a curved back (in order to create the upside down effect). The dressing approach I use will camouflage that as well.

Part 1: Painting

The mirror was originally black with brown undertones.

Not bad.

The mouldings at the top are nice.

The problem (for me) is it all blends together and I'm very aware of the fact it is one solid piece of plastic.

First thing I did was grab some silver metallic acrylic paint. I coated the brush lightly (not much paint), and gently dry-brushed (where you softly run the brush across a surface) silver over the raised moulding.

This helps to give the illusion the mouldings and the frame are not one piece. It draws attention to the 3-D detailing. Finally, the silver will catch low lighting, and make it stand out in a darkened Halloween party.

Try to keep the silver paint on the protruding parts and not too deep in the crevices. Don't worry if you do get too much silver in the crevices (as I did in the middle spiral detail in the far right picture). When the silver paint dries, you can fix it with black paint.

I wanted the frame to also catch more light, lose some of its smoothness, and appear a bit more aged.

I took white acrylic paint and - very messily - put streaks all around the edges (following the direction of the frame as shown in the left image).

Don't forget to sneak a bit of white up in the moulded part as well, and on the outside edges of the mirror.

Be sure to hit the raised edges that exist on the frame with the white.

See? Told you it was messy. The only thing you want to avoid is globs.

I don't have to worry about it being neat because I am going to paint over it again with black, letting hints of some of the white show through (as shown in the right image). You do this by using a dry-brushing technique again: thin bit of paint on your brush, dragged gently along the surface.

Now those subtle bits of white - like the metallic paint - will catch light that bounces off of it, adding depth.

It also makes the mirror appear aged.

Most importantly, it makes it appear less plastic-y.

Part 2: Hanging with Fabric

It's time to hang it. There's a triangle hook on the top of the mirror. You could just put a nail in the wall and be done with it.

Or, you could add some drama, height, and more texture with fabric.

I have a collection of old white sheets and curtains. They are invaluable as a haunter. And inexpensive if you visit your local thrift store (I've found sheets for as little as one dollar).

For the mirror display, I decided to use a curtain. I found the point close to centre in the width of the fabric. I already had a nail in the wall, and poked the nail head through the fabric to hang the curtain (leaving a few extra inches of fabric above the nail).

I put the mirror over top of the curtain, also hanging it on the nail, and brought the excess fabric over the nail and the top of the mirror to hide the hook.

I draped the edges of the fabric over the sides of the frame. This masks the curved back of the mirror.

It's the length of the curtain that adds height and drama.

To create more billows in the fabric, you can gather a bit of the curtain, fold it together, and safety pin it behind the mirror in sections.

As you can see, by continuing the effect - also draping the furniture in front of the mirror - I have suddenly transformed an entire wall. The sheets connect them all together, and the eye follows it from top to bottom.

These images (obviously) are taken in the daylight. I quickly gathered together some decorations to place in the display. I wanted to show you how well the effect works even if it's in a brightly lit room. And this is before I've added spiderwebs (which will run from the mirror down to the media cabinet below).

But what's cool about the white sheets is they will bounce light back. You could dramatically change the look of this by aiming a blue, red, or even orange spotlight at the wall (I'll post example images later this month). The folds in the sheets will cast shadows, giving it a creepier look, and the sheets will glow with the colour of the light.

If you don't have a spotlight (or can't place one in a safe location that won't shine into the eyes of your guests), you can place a lamp nearby with a coloured bulb inside and achieve the same effect.

There you have it. More images to come.

Oh, and did you happen to notice the radio? That's the second item I made over. Look for the transformation post soon.