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My friend Shannon is planning a super-budget wedding in the fairly expensive market of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and she’s been sharing her little nuggets of broke-ass wisdom with me, but it wasn’t until she told me about this amazing DIY for mercury glass centerpieces that I decided it was high time for her to share it with y’all, too. Guys, I love this so much. Mercury glass can definitely be a pricey addition to your wedding budget, but Shannon nailed this DIY in totally Broke-Ass fashion. Have at it, lady!
My long-time love affair with vintage vessels began as a kid in my grandmother’s house. Aged, but elegant mercury glass peeked from behind lamps and picture frames, leaving me with a sense of nostalgia for an era I never experienced. It was so wistful, so romantic, that started planning my wedding to a man who gives me that warm and wistful feeling, I knew I wanted to decorate with it.
Then price tags shot me straight back into reality. Searching for “mercury glass compote” yielded beautiful pieces — that cost $30, $50, even $75. “Ok,” I thought, “I can have two flower arrangements.”
Being the personification of “champagne taste on a beer budget”, I’ve learned to compromise, but since I’ve been insisting “I’ll do it myself!” since the days of pigtails and Pampers, I decided to do a little (OK, a lot of) scouring of the Interwebz before throwing the towel in on my vision. Dozens of DIY tutorials promised faux mercury glass was easy to create with the right supplies, and — no lie — it’s not that hard at all! My goal was to keep the cost of vases under $10. All supplies included, these came out to less than $4 for 15 compote-style bowls. Broke-Ass score!
Your one non-negotiable, have-to-have-it, don’t-cut-corners supply is the paint. If it isn’t Krylon’s Looking Glass spray paint, you’re going to be disappointed. Because I wanted a gold finish to my pieces, I went with Krylon’s Foil Metallic spray paint to back the silver. One can of each provided more than enough paint for 15 finished compotes.
I picked up my glass pieces (candlesticks and bowls) for a buck a pop at Dollar Tree, but you can use any clear glass for this technique. You’ll need an adhesive that is specifically made for glass-on-glass, a spray bottle with a “mist” setting filled with 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water, some rubbing alcohol and a handful of paper towels. Make sure to cover your surface to protect it from rogue spray paint and wear gloves to keep it off of your fingers.
Remove any price tags or stickers and rub the candlestick with rubbing alcohol to get rid of any lingering stickiness. Give it a generous mist with the water/vinegar mix so you see runny droplets.
Spray the gold Foil Metallic paint in short, quick bursts, leaving some of the glass exposed. This uneven application gives you an antiqued look when the process is complete, so don’t worry if the paint pools in places and doesn’t cover others. If you just want a silver finish, skip this step entirely.
The foil paint dries quickly, so immediately blot the surface with a paper towel. The paint will crack and shift leaving exposed patches where your water/vinegar left droplets.
Spray the candlestick again with the vinegar/water solution and using the same short, quick bursts, apply a thin layer of the Looking Glass paint.
This paint is much thinner and runnier, so rather than blotting immediately, give it about 5 seconds to set, then gently blot. Through some major trial and error, I found the best technique was to fold the paper towel, hold it at one end and just sort of smack the glass with the other. This absorbs those drops of water, but doesn’t smear the paint or take too much off. If you’re looking for a more silvery and reflective finish, mist, paint and blot again.
The bowl portion needs to be painted from the inside, so you’re going to start with the Looking Glass paint.
Use the same technique of misting, spraying and gently blotting on the inside of the bowl. I used two coats of Looking Glass on mine before adding the gold. The color will look transparent, but once the gold is added, the finish turns much more opaque. For a silvery mercury glass finish, eliminate the gold paint and add coats- alternating between misting with the spray bottle and applying the paint until you achieve your desired finish.
Mist your bowl one last time with the water/vinegar mixture and lightly spray the Foil Metallic paint, blotting away the bubbles. Again, an uneven application leaves you with a more antiqued look, so imperfections are actually, well, perfect. From the outside of the bowl you’ll see silver, gold and clear spots. Admire your work; you’ve done a bang-up job!
Run a generous ring of glue around the top of your candlestick. You want enough to form a good seal with the bowl, but not so much it squishes out. Let that glue sit for about two minutes, then attach the candlestick to the bowl. Leave it upside down to set for 20 to 30 minutes, or according to your adhesive’s instructions.
Give the candlestick a little tug to see if it’s sticking to the glass. If it stays, flip the entire piece over and let it sit for a day to make sure the glue has really cured and you’re left with one solid piece of DIY delightfulness!
If you plan on using a floral arrangement that needs water, line your compote with a disposable picnic bowl to keep water from ruining your paint. This way you can also transport the vases to your venue wrapped safely in a box with the flowers waiting in your liner bowl.
Now you and your guests can enjoy your budget-conscious decor that’s both on-trend and timeless. And it’s one of those items that’s perfect to use in your house after your wedding!