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How to antique mirrors

Hi, I was wondering if anyone knew of the process of antiquing mirrors to give it that brown-black smoky look. Any leads would be appreciated.

Rob Bryant
glassmith - Ontario Canada


Hey Rob,


on eBay or


(affil links)

The silvering (the chemical precipitation of silver) is bright and shine at first but will oxidize or tarnish if left unprotected. The early coatings used to protect the silver were a little hit or miss (the selection of the coating improved over time). So, the brown color is from the interaction between the coating, oxygen in the air, and the silver (and the precipitation method used) over time. Unless you have a lot of time to spare, say 50 years or so. You may need to work this problem backwards and treat the glass to get the color you are looking to get.


Fred Mueller, CEF
- Royersford, Pennsylvania

How do you "treat the glass" to get this antiqued look, smoky and with darkened sections.

Anne Barton
- New York, New York

Hi Rob

Hey! you ask the very question I was about to. We want to antique a mirror to put in our new bar here. Now the technique I recall being explained to me - but I have never tried - is to burn sulfur on the back side of the new mirror. I recall being told you lay the mirror down on say trestles - open air would be a good idea I expect - mirror side up. Underneath you place small dishes of sulfur (I don't know how far from the back of the mirror) and set them alight. Apparently the burning sulfur corrupts the backing. I am will to give it a go and will report my outcome. If you give it go, plse let us all know how it goes for you.


Bruce Robinson
- Koh Samui, Thailand

I have nothing to contribute to the process but I am interested in learning how it is done. So if anyone tries the sulfur solution, please post the results.

Sunny Rogers
- Rhinebeck, New York

I have had great success with alcohol ink on the surface of mirrors to create a faux antique effect. It turned out great and the alcohol inks are easy to find, come in a lot of different colors, easy to work with, non toxic and are inexpensive.

aimee bishop
- Colorado springs, Colorado
July 1, 2008

March 7, 2009

Hi--just got on this site and want to share another site that provides info on how to antique. They are called angel gilding. You can get small mirrors at Hobby Lobby for a few dollars.

Here is what they said about antiquing a mirror:

Mirror removers chemically dissolve mirroring chemicals and metallic leaf applied to glass. We have not tested them on other substrates.

2-Part Removers:
Silver Remover and Gold Remover are 2-part chemical solutions. Mixed together, they lose their effectiveness after about an hour. Mix equal amounts of "A" and "B". Rinse the glass after removing the silver to clean it completely.

Stripping Commercial Mirrors:
To strip a commercial mirror, use paint stripper to remove the paint before you remove the silver. Some paint strippers leave a waxy film on the glass. Remove the film by washing the exposed silver with our concentrated glass cleaner or acetone. acetone [on eBay or Amazon affil link] is available at most hardware stores.

Many commercial mirrors have a protective layer of copper over the silver. You can see the copper when you strip off the paint. Gold Remover dissolves both copper and silver.

Multi-layer Mirrors:
For multi-layer mirrors, such as galena over silver, dissolving the bottom layer usually causes the top layer to lift off. Use the remover designed to dissolve the bottom layer or use a multi-purpose remover, such as Gold Remover, to dissolve both layers at once.

You can physically remove a mirror coating by rubbing it with a paste of pumice and water. Our pumice will not scratch the glass. Apply it wet or dry with a cotton ball. Pumice offers another way to "antique" mirrors.

Silver Strip:
Chromic acid, also known as Silver Strip, is a "reportable substance" in any quantity under EPA rules. We do not carry it.

Blank squares indicate that the remover had little or no effect on the metal.

Shaloria Taylor
- Indianapolis, Indiana

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