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Thursday, May 15

mirror, mirror...

I came up with this idea just before Christmas '06 and quickly made some to bring to Women's Gifts. They were a hit, so I worked on technique and design over the Winter. They were popular at last Summer's outdoor shows, too. There is a steep learning curve here and I have a long way to go with them.

Basically, you need a plain wooden mirror or you can cut your own wood and glass and make your own base mirror. We do both.Then you apply a raised design to the wood. There are many ways to do this. You can apply cut shapes, draw with wax or 3D paint, anything that will make a raised design that holds up to pressing and shaping the paper that will go over it. The paper you use has to be the kind that you can bring down to a pliable state with water or PVA or meth cell or a combination of them. I like mulberry or lokta the best. You apply a thin coat of whichever adhesive you're using to the back of the paper. I like to use an old credit card to spread an even coat.

I sometimes spray this very lightly with water to keep the paper soft during the application. When the paper is first applied, it looks pretty hopeless.

But then you start to press the paper into the design. You can use your palm, a bone folder, the round part of a brush handle, the bristles of the brush, a combination of all those things. You need to get the paper tight against the opening and solidly cast to the design. (This is a different mirror at the same stage and with a similar design.)

Now the fun starts. On this mirror, I sealed it with poly-crylic (you can't paint on the paper unless you seal it because the paper just soaks up the paint on contact) and used acrylic paints in purple, green, white and cream and glazes in copper, bronze and gold. I use thinner and a soft cloth to blend the paints. This is what I got:

I like this one. It has a feel of stone and metal combined. It looks old, like the patina developed over time. And it's just paper! Very cool, I think.

It just needs to have the mirror placed and then I finish the back with a dust cover and a hanger. There ya go. It will make me happy when people come up to it, gingerly touch it with a finger tip and say "This is paper??" That's the best part.

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