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Painting an old gilt mirror

(15 Posts)
Pannacotta Mon 22-Oct-12 14:11:33

We have a very old, heavy gilt overmantel mirror which I'd like to paint as it doens't look too good against the black fire surround it sits on.

Has anyone painted an old mirror like this? How do I prep it (it's quite intricate so would be hard to sand down)?

I would prefer not to move it as it's incredibly heavy, am I mad to consider painting it in situ?

Any advice would be very welcome!


herhonesty Mon 22-Oct-12 14:52:06

i had a similar one which i painted in annie sloan white chalck paint. didnt need priming and used a stipple sort of brush to get into all the nooks and crannies as it it were. it does look very nice if i say so myself!

however i did balance it flat/horizontal over several tins so i didnt get any drips on the glass, it was also easier to get to the bits on the side.

Pannacotta Mon 22-Oct-12 15:56:26

Thanks honesty, I did wonder about the Annie Sloan paint after I saw a thread on here.
Will check out the colours as I am thinking of painting it dark rather than light, to tie in with the fireplace.

Did you clean the frame before painting? I think mine is probably quite dirty!

GrendelsMum Mon 22-Oct-12 15:58:04

Ooh, Pannacotta - I have to do this too (possibly with two mirros). We can synchronise our timing and offer mutual support.

DFiL reckoned it might need a primer, but it sounds like HerHonesty has managed without.

I find that using a narrow brush and very little paint on it helps to avoid the drips.

amazonianwoman Mon 22-Oct-12 16:13:01

Hi Pannacotta I just painted a few old picture frames which were hideous orange pine but nice shapes.

I couldn't be bothered to sand them back (too much detail) so I used a Zinsser primer - Bullseye 1-2-3 I think - which sticks to pretty much anything and dries in about an hour.

Then I painted over with a couple of coats of a very dark F&B colour - a sample sized tin was enough. They look a million times better.

IvanaHumpalotCountDracula Mon 22-Oct-12 16:28:19

I'm a gilder and frame restorer.

Does the frame have any chips? If so, does it look white/chalky underneath? Can you see and red or yellow under the finish? What is the finish like at the moment - browny gold?

If it is old and you do want to paint it, don't sand it, paint over the top. From a restorer/conservators perspective if you do this I could (in theory) if you ever wanted to re-gild just strip off the paint and top layers of finish and try to find any remaining gold layers.

If it's not dirty just dusty, give it a light dust with a soft clean cloth and paint. If it is dirty try cleaning a small section with plain water (don't soak the frame - almost dry cloth). There are two types of gilding - water and oil. If yours is browny gold and you can't see any red/yellow underneath it is proberbly oil gilded and fine to gently clean with water.

If the glass is original, try not to break! Old glass costs to replace and modern glass just doesn't look the same. If the glass has got sparkly bits in it, it could be mercury glass - lovely.

If it is very old, you might want to take a picture and ask a antique dealer before you paint.

GrendelsMum Mon 22-Oct-12 17:10:50

Thanks very much!

Pannacotta Mon 22-Oct-12 18:35:42

Thanks Ivana.
Its a dull browny gold yes and there are few chips but they look quite pale underneath, not chalky though (bit hard to tell as there is limited light in the room its in at the moment).
Sadly its not mercury glass, that would have been gorgeous, but I think its original, complete with a very small chip in it. But its quite a large mirror so you cant see it.
I think its mid Voctorian so not really old and not in fantastic condition so am not worried about its value (we inherited it with the house).

amazonian I do know about that primer but was hoping to bypass that step if I can, though this depends on the Annie Sloan colours...

Grendel are you going first, or me?! wink

GrendelsMum Mon 22-Oct-12 18:38:34

Ermm... you? I've still got to paint the bathroom ceiling!

Pannacotta Mon 22-Oct-12 18:41:26

Excuses excuses!

Btw ta for your email, all sounds good, will reply soon hopefully with some progress reports from here too! (need to sort out my camera too as it has just died a death).

ChippingInLovesAutumn Mon 22-Oct-12 18:48:14

There are some nice 'darker' Annie Sloan colours. I had 3 colour charts on this coffee table yesterday - can't find one right now! What sort of colour were you wanting?

Pannacotta Mon 22-Oct-12 18:55:10

Chipping I was after something dark, the fireplace is dark grey flecked marble with a slate insert in a blue/black colour, so I'm looking for something to tie in with these, but I didnt want jet black.
Do you have any suggestions from her range?
I've just had a look at her website but cant tell much so will order a colour chart.
I'm after a matt effect but not chalky though, so hope it would be ok for that.

ChippingInLovesAutumn Mon 22-Oct-12 19:46:14

Right - colour chart in hand.

Aubusson - which is a rich, dark, blue with a hint of green - a dark teal I suppose.

French linen & Chateau grey are both quite dark

Graphite - obviously very dark

Do you want any of the gilt to show through?

Do you want a 'layered' coloured look, or a single colour?

You would need to put some wax on it if you don't want the chalky look. You can brush it on or put it on with a soft cloth, then wipe it off a bit. It gives it a very slight 'satin' look. She has a couple of waxes - one is light and one is dark. You'd only really want to use little bits of the dark one to go into a few grooves etc, you wouldn't want to use it on the whole thing (well, I guess you might, but most people wouldn't smile )

Pannacotta Mon 22-Oct-12 21:31:10

Thanks Chipping.
I'm after a matt, solid colour, no show through from the gilt.
From the website pics I like Graphite best as it looks a bit like a slate finish which would work well with the walls and fireplace but will get a colour chart and take a view.
Will ask them about the waxes too....

ChippingInLovesAutumn Tue 23-Oct-12 12:04:55

Let me know what you choose/how it goes smile

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