Call it a domestic aha moment. As the owner of two old houses, I’ve inherited many a vintage glass shade. The originals were attached to brass ceiling fixtures that I subsequently replaced with more updated lighting. But I never could bring myself to part with the lovely old shades, which languished in the basement. Finally, a Pinterest tutorial on how to make faux mercury glass votives provided that long-awaited spark of inspiration.
Turns out, making your own vintage-looking mercury glass shade is quick and easy. The results are beautiful, and the price: less than $25 dollars for the spray paint and vintage style cord. Even if you have to buy the glass shade, these go for as little as $6 on eBay or Etsy. I call that a DIY success story.
Here’s how I did it.
- Vintage glass or replica shade
- Pendant cord with socket
- Rust-Oleum Mirror Effect spray paint
- Spray bottle
- Paper towels
- Gold metallic spray (optional)
- Gloves (optional)
- Rubbing alcohol (optional)
Glass shades are relatively easy to come by and don’t cost much. Etsy and eBay have numerous choices. Home Depot also sells similar replica shades for $6. (Note: Many of these antique shades are missing the hardware used to attach them to the lamp. Happily, this is also easily obtained. Search for “antique lamp shade bracket.” Do make sure you get the right size, though, by measuring across the top of your shade.)
Step 1: Clean the shade.
Step 2: Tape the outside and edges of the shade.
Step 3: Prepare your spot spray.
Step 4: Spray the shade with a vinegar/water solution.
Lightly mist the inside of your shade with the vinegar/water solution. Avoid soaking it, as this will create drips, which is not the effect you want. Depending on the size of your shade, you can either work in sections or spray the whole thing at once. I found the latter method worked well with small-to-medium shades.
Step 5: Apply a light coat of mirror effect spray paint.
Step 6: Gently dab the painted surface with a paper towel.
Allow the paint to dry for a minute or two, but not completely. Gently dab paper towel on the water/vinegar spots to absorb the solution. If you want a more streaked effect, wipe the towel in random spots across the paint.
Step 7: Repeat layered application of vinegar solution and paint.
Step 8 (Optional): Apply a fine coat of gold metallic spray paint.
Step 9: Assemble your lamp.
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