Monday, July 8, 2013

Finishing the rococo mirror and cutting glass

So much happened since I last posted, two weeks ago I my poor little dog slipped outside unnoticed while we went out for an hour or so, in trying to get back through the gate, he tore his lip open on the one side, fortunately the vet was still open (it was about 7pm already) and had him stitched up in no time. He healed nicely and we took the stitches out ourselves on Saturday. In between I got flu and felt quite sick for a few days and it took me another few days to completely recover, felt alarmingly weak for awhile, I haven't had flu in years.

Flu or not it didn't stop me from working on the Rococo mirror, I was determined to finish my Castine projects before working on any of the other miniatures I am busy with. I finished carving the front on Friday. On Saturday morning I carved the leaves on the back side to give them some shape and thin them out.

View from the left side. 

View from the right side. As far as tools went, I didn't like using my Dremel much, it wobbles a bit with the small cutters in it. My favorite tools ended up to be the two chisels that Bill Robertson made for us in class and my craft knifes.

I am not too fond of scalpels but did use the one on the right to smooth the inside curves of the scrolls, the knife on the left is one of my favorite tools for slicing off thin layers of wood, the chisel blade are too wide for miniatures, my husband grinds them down for me until they are really small and you can get into all the small tight corners. And then the two chisels are the ones Bill made from drill rod, they were quite long and I cut them in half to try my hand at making some myself as I have no idea if I will find drill rod easily in SA.

On Saturday afternoon I started gilding the frame, I first painted it with an acrylic paint, and then watched Josje's YouTube video's on gilding, thanks Josje, they were a great help. I finished the gilding over the weekend. I wanted to use real mirror and that send me on another quest, I asked some of my South African miniaturist friends if they have any idea where I could find some thin mirror and they promptly said makeup compacts, ha, I don't use any makeup but went to an oriental mall close by and found a nice big broken plastic container full of eye-shadow with a lovely big unbroken mirror for dirt cheap. Since I haven't cut any glass before I first searched for a bit of info on the internet, this was going to be an odd shape too and I remembered Bill saying something about grinding the glass so I did a bit of research on that too.

As usual when I am having fun I forget to take photos, so here is the piece of glass already rough cut (broken would be a better description) showing how it fits into the original piece of mirror.

Our winters are rather mild and it was a lovely 21 degrees outside, so I took my Dremel out onto the stoep (patio) as I wasn't too keen on having glass all over my workroom. I used a silicone carbide grinder and had a bowl of water handy and kept on dipping the mirror into the water to keep it cool and create glass paste instead of dust and maybe some splinters while I was slowly grinding the mirror into the final shape. It took about three hours, I am not sure who was more happy when it was finished, me or the dog as I kept on going inside every now and again to rinse the mirror and check to see if it fitted the frame yet, he likes to lie close by somewhere when I work and gives big sighs if I move around too much :-)

And finally it fits, the mirror turned out to be 1.4mm thick, so it sticks out a bit, but since I am planning to hang it on a back wall above a fireplace it doesn't bother me too much. The backing did chip a bit here and there on the edges but you can't see it from the front.

I am quite happy at how the mirror turned out, this was a project with a lot of firsts and a huge learning curve and I enjoyed every bit of it.

And a side view, the size for the gold stays sticky for a long time and has peeled off a bit with all the handling, of course I should have cut and fitted the mirror first, but I kind of like it in a bit of an antiqued state, I will let it dry properly and then decide if I want to patch it up or leave as is.

Hope you all have a great mini week.


Melissa Boling said...

Very impressive! Amazing, especially for a first try! :-)

Catherine said...


I am sorry to hear you have been ill with the flu. You must have lower your resistance while you were on your travel marathon. I am also sorry to hear about your dog. OUCH! Nothing upsets me like an animal that has been injured or is sick.

Your mirror is LOVELY! How wonderful to be able to learn all those new skills in Bill's class. Grinding glass sounds scary!!! Though I am sure it can be done safely.

Can you tell me if you bought your sizing for the gold leaf online. I have a big book of gold leaf (that was my grandmothers) but I still can't find anywhere to buy the sizing.

Gee said...

hi Elga,

And you've managed to not break the mirror!
That in itself is a huge accomplishment.
Your mirror looks great, very well done!

Raminhos de Pano said...

Ficou muito rico esse espelho, bonito demais.Parabéns.

John said...

Oh, Elga! What an impressive project! It is just gorgeous. My dogs do the same thing when I'm working and so I had a good laugh about that!


PILAR6373 said...

Perfecto,es muy bonito!!!!

miraclechicken said...

The mirror is SOO beautiful, and I'm relieved your dog has mended and you too :)

Muriellisa said...

Un grand BRAVO. Ce projet est fantastique.

The Old Maid said...

Pretty work!

Elga said...

Catherine, I have about three shops close by, well, within 20-40 minutes drive from my home that sells art and crafts supplies with almost anything you can dream of. Both Pretoria and Johannesburg has an University and also art colleges and a fairly big community of fine artists, so finding these kinds of supplies are easy. Sometimes it is nice to live between two huge cities that are only 30 miles apart :-)

Ilona said...

I am sorry to hear you had the flue and your dog had his "accident", I hope you are both well now? What bad luck!
Your mirror is amazing, an for a first attempt??? Thank you for sharing how you did the work on the mirror, Elga.
Groete, Ilona

Anna said...

Beautifully, beautifully done. It looks rather like a very old Venetian mirror at Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Hope you and your dog are both feeling better.

debbie's mini thoughts and creations said...

impressive mirror, I love how you have shaped it, so different and looks very expensive. glad you and your doggie are on the mend x

Dorien Litjes said...

Dear Elga,
I'm happy to read that your flu is almost over and that your dog is doing well also.

I would love to have winters with 21 degree! I'm glad when we have summers with 21 till 24 degrees.

Thank you for sharing your amazing mirror. What a job!

Greetings Dorien

Giac said...

Hello Elga,
I am happy you are feeling better. the mirror is spectacular. you did an amazing job with the gilding and the carving. It is very elegant and just beautiful. Bravo!
Big hug to you, and to your puppy,

Idske de Jong said...

Love the mirror, what a wonderful carving project!

Marian said...

Elga, your mirror is fantastic.

Isabel Ruiz Alonso said...

Una maravilla!!!

Fabiola said...

Your mirror is fabulous.
Greetings, Faby

Fi.P said...

Firstly...What a beautiful work and what a great idea to use makeup mirrors.

So sorry to hear you have been unwell, It so often happens once you have been traveling, it can be quite exhausting!! It looks like I have so much to catch up on. I am slowly creeping back into blog world but it looks like you have had an absolutely fab time!!


Sandra said...

Elga I saw the frame on Petitpointers and was impressed then, but I'm blown away by the finished mirror! Your skills are amazing - so many firsts in the project and you mastered them all with your usual finesse.

Hope you are fully recovered now and enjoying the sun when you can - aren't we fortunate in the southern hemisphere that winter does still allow us to work outdoors? Your little dog will be happy now his lip is healed up. Sandie

Debora said...

Glad to hear you're back on your feet again, as is your dog. Be well together.

Wow, it's so nice to see the same frame we made in class together, but with a different finish. I wondered what it would look like gilded... and here it is! Totally different but very pretty, well done!

Best thing is to see you endeavor into new techniques, learning loads along the way and getting great results at the same time. Isn't it great to feel you're growing? :))

Thank you for sharing it, have a great weekend (and enjoy the mild winter temperatures)

MelyMel said...

Elga is a fantastic job! I love this mirror, congratulations!

Karin Corbin said...

The mirror is coming along beautifully.
Don't worry you will be able to find drill rod in South Africa. It is a worldwide commonly used type of metal material for machining. Source it from a local supplier who sells metals to machinist.