DIY mercury glass lamp with burlap shade

Mercury Glass Lamp 3Lamp shade 3

Well, after some interweb troubles I am back online! Feels like it’s been ages since I’ve blogged and in that time I have scored myself a new job. One that is permanent (seems my little leap of faith into the temp world paid dividends by putting me in a fantastic company who happened to have a vacancy in their legal & external relations team. YAY!) and one that is keeping me pretty busy.

Working longer hours than I used to makes my free time all the more special and so I was really happy to get this lamp done over the weekend, as well as decorate the house for Christmas and make a few homemade baubles for the tree. I still haven’t got around to my annual Christmas baking but seeing as I am munching on a bag of Pfeffernüsse and I just saw a recipe for them on foodgawker (thanks Abby!) I think the universe is trying to tell me something. I must make these biscuits! Plus, Dave is at the pool and is looking forward to one of these spicy little beauties when he gets back. If I manage to polish off the whole bag before then I might owe him a batch… Oh nein!

So lets get to this lovely little lamp! As I’ve said before, when I go thrifting lamps are one of the things I always look out for. They are such a good way to add atmosphere to a room and they come in all kinds of interesting shapes and sizes. And you can never have too many. Unless you are Dave, who actually said to me “haven’t we’ve got enough lamps?”. Enough lamps? He may as well have stolen my new bike on Christmas day. No Pfeffernüsse for you Mister! (Ok, ok I’m joking. You can have one.)

before & after

When I saw this glass lamp at my local Savers (a chain of second hand shops) I knew it had potential but I didnt think it would turn out quite as good as it did. You see, like most people I was drooling over these Pottery Barn Mercury Glass Lamps. Who wouldn’t? So a lamp base made out of hollow glass was the perfect find.

The glass was made from 3 separate parts and to get them all free from the lamp I had to take the actual light fitting apart. Don’t try this on an expensive or treasured lamp in case you can’t put it back together again but I would say, this is not the first time I’ve done this and it really is quite simple as long as you’re handy with a screwdriver and can remember the correct order of the parts. I took photos for back up! I am by no means encouraging anyone who isn’t qualified to start mucking around with electrical things and then plugging them back in the wall – at your own risk my friends! For reals.

Lamp base 2

To fake mercury glass there is one thing you must have and that is Krylon Looking Glass Spray Paint. I’ve mentioned it here in my first mercury glass post, including where to purchase it in Oz (thank you Caswell Australia, the one and only place I found!).

For this project you will need:

Krylon Looking Glass Spray Paint

Lamp with glass base

Spray bottle with 1/2 water, 1/2 vinegar solution

Masking tape

Screwdrivers

Drum shade

Burlap/Hessian

Spray adhesive

Glue gun

Ok, first things first. Whenever I revamp a second hand lamp the very first thing I do is check to see if it’s working. Imagine proudly inserting a bulb in your newly finished project only to discover it won’t turn on and the lamp is broken. Boo.

Take a good look at the whole lamp to figure out how it is put together (where are the screws, joins etc). This will tell you how to take it apart. If you can just remove the light fitting from the base and easily paint the glass you are a lucky duck. If not, you may have to take apart the light fitting itself like I did. I’ve only ever tried this when the switch is part of the light fitting and not part of the cord so I can’t say whether the latter is doable. The old lamps usually have the switch in the top so look out for those.

Like I said, I’m not qualified so I won’t give you a tutorial on how to take apart and reassemble a light fitting but one handy hint is that there are some small loose fitting parts inside that are hard to keep in place when you’re connecting the two white parts together because they want to succumb to gravity and fall out. To get around that, simply wrap some ribbon over the loose parts and hold it in place while you put the two white parts in place then just draw out the ribbon. Trust me, it will make sense at the time and you can look at the photos for reference.

Glass before painting

To get a good mercury glass effect (this attempt was even better than my last one) you need a spray bottle that will give you small droplets, not a superfine mist. I used an empty window spray bottle.

Inside of glass after painting

Clean and dry your glass and tape over any edges, lips or surface area you don’t want to get the spray on. In a well ventilated area give the inside of the glass a light spray of the vinegar solution, and two very light coats of looking glass spray (it is very thin so runs easily). Let it dry for a few minutes and then tap or ‘burst’ all the water droplets with your finger – the paint that was on top of the water droplets will lift off onto your finger and that’s how you get that nice mottled effect. Repeat this process about 4 times or until you have the desired result. Let it dry thoroughly.

I also had great success painting the gold coloured metal base with the looking glass spray to turn it to silver. It looks fantastic.

Painted base

For the hessian/burlap shade cut the hessian to the size of the shade with a 1 inch overlap at the seam and a 1 inch border on each side. Spray the shade and the inside of the hessian with spray adhesive and on a flat surface with the adhesive side up, put the shade on one end and roll up. Use the hot glue gun to secure the seam. Wrap the border around the edge of the shade and use the hot glue gun around the inside of the edge to secure the hessian. I did realise after I had finished that I need to get a thick ribbon or trim to glue over the top of the over-lapped hessian to make it prettier and cover up the rough edges on the inside so as soon as I find the right ribbon that’s what I’ll do.

Taking light apart 7

For an $8 lamp I am seriously impressed with the result and love the look of this shiny beauty on my bed side table!

Lamp in the evening 1

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Mirror, mirror

A few exciting things have happened to me recently. First, I found Krylon Looking Glass Spray (a US product) available for sale in Australia (yay) and second, I resigned from the job I’ve had for the last 3.5 years as a PA/secretary to start life as a temp and have a bit of an adventure. As one of those people who doesn’t have a really super specific career direction, I figure temping in lots of different roles will expose me to different industries and ideas and I might find that thing that really gets my motor running (besides being crafty which, at this stage, is not going to bring home the bacon). I’ve kind of thrown myself in the deep end here and I hope this decision pays off but sometimes you just need to take a risk.

Right, now I’ve covered that, let’s get back to the excitement of the Looking Glass Spray…

Krylon Looking Glass Spray is applied to the back of glass and will give it a mirrored look. According to everything I’ve read, there is no other product on the market that will do the same thing so you must get the Krylon brand. I got mine at Caswell Australia.

These are the beautiful Pottery Barn glass hurricane lamps that have inspired many a mercury glass DIY’er!

I am a big mercury glass fan but really only started seeing it when I started reading design and DIY blogs. I have managed to find 3 mercury glass candle holders at my local op-shops but I definitely wanted to try making a replica version of these gorgeous Pottery Barn Hurricane Lamps I’ve spotted a number of times. Lots of other bloggers have done DIY mercury glass tutorials and so after reading many of those I felt ready to tackle my own version.

I also had a gold frame on the fireplace mantle (I’ve changed the mantle AGAIN and both Dave and I are hoping this is it for a while as I seem to have a slight obsesssion with rearranging it every week or so…) that I wanted to turn into an antique mirror. I’m not 100% thrilled with the mirror but it doesn’t look too bad.

For my first attempt at a distressed mercury glass look I used an old coffee jar and began by spraying a light mist of water to the inside of the jar. I then applied about 6 coats of the spray, pausing to wipe some away with damp paper towel while it was still wet. After the five coats I sprayed some black paint over the wipe marks. I used the same method for the mirror. While they both look ok and the mirror is ‘antiqued’ it’s not what I was after so the below instructions are for the hurricane lamp, my second attempt, after reading a few more tutorials.

To make faux mercury glass you will need:

Krylon looking Glass Spray

Spray bottle with white vinegar

Masking tape

Paper towel

Glass Hurricane Lamp (mine was $4 at the reject shop) and/or glass from picture frame, both clean and dry

An old toothbrush

Black spray paint if you are making a mirror

Begin by taping up the outside lip of your hurricane lamp so no paint gets on the outside or rim. I also made a skirt with the paper towel for extra protection.

Spray a very light coat on the inside of the glass as the paint is very thin and will run easily as you can see from the photos. Wait one minute or until the paint has dried (you will know because it will suddenly become mirrored) and then spray some vinegar on a scrunched up paper towel and put on a section of the paint and drag slightly to lift it off the glass. Do this randomly all over the inside of the glass avoiding the ‘lip’ area (having a solid ring of paint around the lip helps recreate the Pottery Barn look). I used a toothbrush sprayed with vinegar for the harder to reach places.

Be careful not to scratch the paint in other areas inside the glass and if you do just use the paper towel technique on the scratch and do the same with drips. Do this spray and paper towel thing about 4 times but remember less is more and you want a decent amount of transparency. And that’s it! Wait for it to really dry for a few hours before putting a candle in there or do what I did and use a battery operated candle until a few hours have passed.

If you are making the antique mirror then leave more solid paint areas and only lift the paint off a small area of the glass. Spray over this with black paint. On my mirror you can see it has a real aged look because I sprayed it with water before applying the paint but in hindsight, I wouldn’t use the water at start because it interferes with the ‘reflectiveness’.

Enjoy!

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