Superstition says that breaking a mirror brings you seven years of bad luck. I say breaking a mirror means you have a new project on your hands. With a little imagination, a few supplies, and a good pair of cut-resistant gloves, you can create a custom piece of art for your home in any color, shape, or size you choose by upcycling your otherwise discarded mirror.
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I love decorating with mirrors-- they bring so much brightness into a room-- so I felt at odds about throwing away a broken one recently. It was one of those inexpensive over-the-door types and had a big ol' crack running right through it. I wanted to salvage it somehow.
A while back I thrifted a cheap print because I loved the size and style of the frame it was in. It had been sitting in my basement just waiting for a reason. I figured I might have finally stumbled onto a perfect use for it!
Let me break down the steps of this project for you in case you'd like to give it a go next time you have a mirror mess on your hands. This technique would work for covering any flat surface-- decorative boxes, trays, even wood on furniture if you're feeling brave.
Sponge (Rags or towels are fine, too)
Glue (I used this one- loved it!)
Bowl/ cup to mix grout in (I used disposable)
You'll for sure want to wear your gloves for this step. This is where you're going to release whatever rage you have by whacking your mirror into a million more pieces.
First, place a sheet over your mirror so shrapnel doesn't go flying all over. Now is the fun part-- break it to bits with your hammer! You may want to use the side or edges of your hammer, as a blunt hit doesn't always do the trick. Lift up your sheet to take a peek every few hits to see how large the pieces are that you're creating. If you need smaller pieces, hit it some more. Once the pieces are around the size you want, it's time to start picking the pieces up and placing them onto your work surface.
I used the print from the frame I was using as my surface, but you could use canvas, wood, heavy cardboard-- anything smooth that can support the weight of your mirror pieces and mortar.
It's a messy process so plan to sweep and vacuum up afterwards!
At first, I set out an entire layout before deciding I wanted smaller pieces. At that point, I was getting tired of smashing glass and moving it around so just started applying the pieces wherever they looked good to me once they were small enough. It worked just as well to glue them on as I worked instead of trying to lay everything out first, so I'd say just get right into gluing it on once you know what look you're going for.
Also-- WOW. I can't say enough good things about the quick dry time and durability of the glue I used. I had never used this before but had gotten some in a craft grab bag at some point. Otherwise, I had planned on using Tacky Glue. Either would be fine-- just don't use hot glue because a.) it adds a ton of weight, b.) it dries too fast, and c.) It doesn't spread well.
Glue it all into place and let it dry. You might have to move things quickly around in a few spots, and you may want to go back to break off a few smaller pieces to add in some places. Wear your gloves as much as you can, but you'll probably have to take them off to place the smaller pieces.
Once your glue is dried completely, it's time to wipe down your work and mix up some mortar. Just give it a good once-over (in your gloves) with a damp cloth to knock any debris off. You'll be wiping plenty more once mortar is applied, so don't worry about it too much. You'll also discover if any pieces are uneven or are not adhering well during this step, so fix any issues with that during this part, too. The gloves are handy for uneven spots since the edges are all still exposed on every piece at this point.
to add in if you want-- I'd love to see how it turns out if you do-- it looks fun!
For mine, I used a 3:1 ratio of powder to water. It's okay if your measurements are not perfect and you eyeball it a bit. Some mortars mix up runnier, some thicker-- you'll find a consistency you like working with as you mix and can stick to that, adding powder or water as needed. Make sure it is thick enough to work with-- runny mortar will go all over the place and have issues hardening.
Apply your mortar. Be careful about those sharp edges between the mirrored pieces-- you'll want to use a light touch as you work between all the crevices. Make sure you've filled in all the cracks and ridges completely so that you cannot see any backing. I wore disposable gloves for this part and was glad I did.
It's going to take a while to dry completely but the mortar will start to harden while you work. You'll want to get into a "work and wipe" rhythm working fairly quickly. You may need to build up some areas if your mirror tiles are uneven.
Apply the mortar (don't be shy- smear it all around!), and then wipe over what you've applied with a damp sponge. This will spread out the excess product and smooth it into the filler areas. If you need to use a rag or even paper towels, rinse and wring them out often. As you wipe off excess mortar, don't worry about the powdery fogginess left on your mirrored pieces-- that will wipe off easily once it's dry. You just want to make sure any unwanted thick areas are smoothed out before it's dry.
Now that you've applied your mortar, it's time to let everything dry. Dry time will vary depending on product. Once it's dry it will have hardened completely, so you're ready to start your final wipe down. To do this, use a large sponge, or wet towels/ rags if you only have those on hand. This will take some time because you'll want to make sure you wipe each tile off individually, as well as any excess dust from the entire piece. It will be worth it when you're done! Some mirror cleaner and a toothbrush will polish it up nicely as well.
Now you know how to turn your seven-year-sentence to bad luck into a unique and lovely piece of artwork. So next time your reflection ends up with a crack running through it, throw some salt over your shoulder, buy a pair of those cut-proof gloves, and bust out the glue.