Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mercury: Not Just an Element

If any of you are on Pinterest- OK, please, who isn't on Pinterest?  You may have seen me pinning lots of mercury glass votives and vases in the past.  That's because mercury glass rocks my socks off and when I become obsessed with something, I change everything I own to suit that new obsession.  Exhibit A.  
Anyway, since my husband is just so mean, but more importantly because it's just not environmentally friendly, I can't just dump all my old vases and buy a million new ones just because mercury glass is in and clear glass is out.  Thankfully, the blogesphere has figured out how to make faux mercury glass using just spray paint, paper towels, and vinegar!

The process is fairly straightforward.  Just grab a couple vases, vinegar, and spray bottle, paper towels, and most importantly, Krylon's Looking Glass Spray Paint. This paint can be hard to find and expensive; I went to three stores before finally finding it at Walmart for $7.  Online prices tend to hoover around $11-15, so apparently Walmart wins this time.
With the help of my wicked awesome friend Lindsey, we went to work.  The first thing to do is to spray five light coats of paint, letting them dry for a few minutes between coats.
At first, you won't spray enough when keeping it light.  Well you probably will be, but if you're incredibly impatient like I am, then you'll start spraying like a maniac when you don't get the results you want after 3 minutes.  That's OK, because it just means the vase is getting coated!
But then things start to get weird because you've sprayed too much and it takes over an hour to dry before you can attempt to distress it...and you get a bunch of drippy lines running everywhere.  Great!  But really, since we're distressing it, it's not a big deal if the paint is even. 

The coolest part is watching it dry for the first time.  It actually turns into a mirror like finish!  It was so freaking cool!
Hello world!
But after awhile, you need to just let it dry enough to be able to distress it.  We went and watched three episodes of The League while we waited, even though the tutorial suggests that the paint will be done in 10 minutes.

Eventually the paint really does dry enough to tackle the next step.  And surprise, it does dry pretty evenly! 
So, now you take your spray bottle and fill it with a half water, half vinegar mixture.  Mist it lightly inside the vase and let it sit for about 30 seconds.
I don't know why the above picture looks so clear here, because the paint was on pretty well!

From here, just take your paper towel, fold it up to a comfortable size, wet it with the water/vinegar mixture, and start dabbing it on the paint until it starts to come up.  You don't necessarily want to rub it and make all the paint come off, but use a little force to get it going.  You can take the small holes that form and make some bigger.  You just want to almost make it look like the paint is peeling; get a textured look.
After tearing it up enough to my liking, we very lightly sprayed a final coat to give it some depth.  I bought some gold metallic paint to layer underneath the exposed holes, but Lindsey and I both agreed it wouldn't look good and more spray paint would be better.
Voila!  After the last coat dries, you're in business!

I use battery operated tea lights in the vases because I don't want to mess with spray paint and real candles.  They give off a nice little glow and light up the vases without any of the annoyance of real candles.

Don't they look all pretty with the mantle?
I loved them so much that I immediately made two more out of an old salsa jar and out of a leftover vase from my wedding (we have about a thousand of these laying around!).
These two vases went a lot different than the first two.  I sprayed about seven layers without seeing any color on the glass until I just got mad and started spraying the cr@p out of them.  And that worked!  The paint dried a hellava lot thicker and harder than the first two vases did, and it look a heck of a lot more muscle to distress them, but they eventually arrived right where I wanted them!

Here are all four jazzing up my Christmas mantle like champs:
I still feels like I have a lot of paint left in the can, even after making these four vases.  I've love to tackle some votive or taper candle holders in the future, or to get my hands on an old window and use the same technique on the glass!  There are so many possibilities... 

Hey!  I was featured on the blog homework!  Check it out:


  1. Those turned out great! I recall doing something similar in a class I took one time...but that was SO long ago. I wonder what I ever did with the jars I made!

  2. They look so nice! I love looking glass paint, distressed or not. Can't wait until you make your mirror! Also, I am wicked awesome thanks for the shout out hehe.


  3. VERY pretty - you are super creative! I am your newest follower. I'd love for you to follow me back =-)
    Beth (TGIF)


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