Sunday, April 7, 2013

Tutorial: How To Make a Venetian Mirror in Miniature

In my last post, I shared my struggles with making realistic looking etched miniature mirrors. After more experimenting, this is the best I can come up with. They won't fool anyone up who looks too closely, but they turn surprisingly realistic if you move them a few inches into the room.
 You will need:
small mirror (I used a 1/2" mirror tile)
silver/mirrored paper (the shinier the better)
paper pattern*
x-acto knife and cutting mat
tacky glue
grey marker or paint
white craft paint
small paint brush
cotton swabs
 * My scanner wasn't working, so I couldn't scan in the pattern I made, but you can easily draw your own. The only important thing is to remember that the mirror will need to be glued to the back of  the frame, so you need to keep the opening for the mirror slightly smaller than the size of your mirror.
 1.Glue the frame pattern to the back of the mirrored paper.
2. Use a knife and straight edge to cut out the frame.Begin with the inner portion of the frame.
3.Color the inner edge of the frame grey to hide the white edge of the paper.
4.Continue cutting out the frame.
5.When frame has been cut out, glue to a scrap of thin grey paper.
6.Continue cutting out the decorations, and arrange them around the frame. It is often easier to cut the curves with short straight cuts rather than long curved cuts.
7.When you have cut all the decorations out, glue them around the frame. Leave a tiny space between each piece.
8.Use a thin, sturdy tool to draw designs in the paper. I used the point of my tweezers. These designs will eventually look like they have been "etched" into the mirror. For the most realistic look, lengthen any dots into short dashes.  You can see in the photo above that the border around the inner and outer edges of the frame is made of dashes, rather than dots.
9.Once you have covered the frame with embossed designs, you will need to fill them in with white paint. Mix white craft paint with water to thin it out until it looks like milk.
10.Use the thinned white paint to coat the embossed designs. Make sure the paint gets down in the impressed lines of the design, but keep it away from the edges of the individual mirror pieces.Let the paint dry completely before moving to the next step.
11.Use a cotton swab to gently buff the paint off the mirrored surface, leaving impressed design highlighted in white paint. You may find that a slightly damp cotton swab gets the paint off more easily, but be careful! A damp cotton swab is more likely to strip the paint out of the design.

12.Here, the design has been filled with white paint, and the mirror is buffed clean.  It may be necessary to apply two or three coats of paint in order to fill the entire design..

13.Use your x-acto knife to cut away the grey paper wherever it shows around the frame.
14.Once the grey paper has been trimmed away, glue your mirror to the back of the frame.
15. I forgot to photograph this step, but you should also run a grey marker around the outside of the frame to get rid of the white paper edge.


  1. Dear Eliza,
    What a masterpiece, this mirror. Thank you for sharing!
    Hugs Dorien

  2. Yes thank you so much. I think it works very well. It looks lovely in your scene.

  3. Bravo! What a Great tutorial! Your mirror adds a special touch to the room! Very Creative!

  4. Thank you for this tutorial; perhaps I can try it one day, I'll keep it in mind.

  5. Very beautiful, i am sure that i will try. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Wonderful mirror, Eliza, thank you for sharing!
    Hugs, Ilona

  7. How beautiful! Definitely NOT a waste of silver paper lol! Will have to keep in mind for some future endeavors! -ara

  8. Very ingenious--thank you for sharing your method!

  9. Hello Eliza,
    Thank you for the great tutorial! I cannot wait to try this one. Your mirror is just stunning.
    Big hug,

  10. Very clever - thank you for sharing.

  11. Thank you for sharing this tutorial. I will likely make one :)

  12. That's fantastic! How clever you are!

  13. Hi Ara, I just noticed your comment on this Venetian Mirror post, it is very informative.